Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Small Group Resources - Do You Really Want Honest Feedback?

Do you want to hear feedback? Do you want to hear honest feedback about your recommended small group resources? Or do you prefer the typically-vanilla, “That was good.” from your small groups?

I prefer feedback.

We (Woodmen Valley Chapel) have a recommended curriculum list for small groups that includes Bible study guides, Christ-centered books on marriage, parenting, stewardship, worldview, missions, evangelism, etc. We also use DVD study resources. Our groups like diversity in their resource choices. Yet one fact remains; not all small group resources are created equal.

You’ve lived the story: You love the author’s work. The topic/issue is relevant. The publisher is a trusted source. The packaging is intriguing. It’s even got online support tools! Yet when it comes to stirring healthy, Christ-centered small group discussion, the book is the equivalent of a dribbler back to the pitcher’s mound—it doesn’t travel very far. It doesn’t take you places. It doesn’t do what you need it to do.

But how do you know?

Encourage your groups to tell you! Give them a voice. Provide them a forum for critique. Ask to hear from them about what worked—and what didn’t.

We use a curriculum critique form that gives them an opportunity to praise (or rant) on their recently completed curriculum. This, in turn, impacts what stays on (or gets removed) from our recommended list from year-to-year.

Our leaders then have an opportunity to look over these critiques. They can see for themselves what other leaders have said about the curriculum—good or not-so-good.

Honest feedback isn’t always what we want to hear about the study guides, books, and resources that we as small group pastors/directors/leaders believe are life-changing. Yet it is what we need to hear.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Small Group Resources

I’m perpetually on a hunt for quality small group resources. I search. I peruse. And then I hunt some more. The hunt itself is not a hard one—there are more than enough small group resources available today. Yet it’s also not as easy as it might seem. The key word in the hunt is “quality”. All books, small group resources, and study guides are not created equal!

The church I serve, Woodmen Valley Chapel, has a growing small group ministry with about 1,500 people involved in small group life. As you can imagine, the community is diverse. So the resource needs are significant.

The hunt goes on…

When hunting, I search for two primary things: strong tools for the small group leader’s toolbox, and content-rich material for the small group participants themselves. Frankly, the hunt can be daunting. I’ve found two things that have served me well on my hunt for quality small group resources.

1. Find a Publisher You Trust
Look at their catalog. Do your research. Read. Are they publishing books that Biblically and Theologically sound? (Don’t assume this to be true!) Do their resources align with your church’s vision and mission? Are their books dealing with issues people are facing today? Are the resources engaging, or are they simply fill-in-the-blank without even the slightest challenge to your mind or heart?

2. Build an Advisory Team
When looking for resources don’t do it alone. Talk with other pastors. Interact with other small group leaders. Take time to read the resources you’ve researched. Build a team of advisors who know the Scriptures, know your church, and know the direction you’re striving to lead your groups. Trust the wisdom of the team you’ve built.

Enjoy the hunt!