Bible Study Groups: The Case for Smaller Groups (Repost from Ken Braddy)

12:30 PM

Ken Braddy, a friend and great thinker in the field of Christian education, recently posted an article that builds a case for smaller groups. Bible study groups struggle with this challenge continually. It is a "Catch 22" for most groups. A healthy group will grow and growth isn't bad. But with growth comes the challenge of knowing when a group grows too large. It is counter intuitive for us to think that we should create a new group instead of continuing to capitalize on the growth of a current group. But, eventually growth will become detrimental to a group.

Here are Ken's 6 reasons smaller groups are a good idea. I hope it helps you consider if (1) You should lead your group to start a new group or (2) You should help your groups understand the value of smaller groups.

6 Reasons Smaller Groups are a Good Idea by Ken Braddy
  1. Smaller groups can meet anywhere - A group of 12 people (which I would consider to be "about the right size," give or take a few) can meet in any on-campus room at the church, and they will fit comfortably in someone's living room.
  2. Smaller groups increase conversational community - People in a large class tend to remain quiet. Speaking up in front of a group of 40 or 50 peers can be very intimidating, so some really great comments always go unsaid. In a smaller group, the intimidation factor doesn't exist like it does in a large group. As Dr. Ed Stetzer,
  3. Smaller groups help people connect - People are "social Legos" and have only so many relationships they can give their time, attention, and energy to supporting. Each of us has only so many connections we can make (and keep). Smaller groups tend to help people "Lego up" with one another and connect relationally, in part because of the room arrangement (people sitting in a circle see one another's faces and this helps form connections, as opposed to people sitting in classrooms with many rows of chairs facing the front of the room). 
  4. Smaller groups are easier to teach - Have you ever tried to recruit someone to teach a large "pastor's class"? It takes a special person with special biblical knowledge to teach such a large group of people. When that person steps down, moves away, retires, etc., finding a replacement can be just about impossible.
  5. Small groups keep people from falling through cracks - One of the jobs of a teacher-leader is to act as a shepherd for their group. I teach a group of 16 adults weekly at my church, and between my full-time job, my role as a husband and father, and other responsibilities, it is all I can do to minister to this smaller group of adults! I cannot imagine trying to teach and shepherd a group of 30, 40, or 50 adults.
  6. Small groups are places where discipleship takes place - Jesus taught and ministered to large groups, but His favorite method for making disciples was investing in 12 disciples, not 100 disciples. Even within His group of 12 there was an "inner group" of 3 men with whom He spent even more relational time. Jesus' model was to use a small group as the basis for discipleship. Somewhere along the way, we've gotten away from this biblical example. A teacher who disciples his people knows each of them, their needs, their shortcomings, and what each one needs to progress in their journey toward Christ-likeness. 
Read the complete article and check out more from Ken Braddy at kenbraddy.com.

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