Great Curriculum advice
One of the most commonly asked questions is, "what should we study next?" That question hits at the most practical level of leading a small group. When I came across this article from Alan Danielson, I knew it could be a big help to a lot of leaders. Whether you need this info for tomorrow or next year, it's worth reading... Groups that start out around a common interest or life-stage sometimes get hung up on curriculum. Their groups form around ideas like parenting, finances, marriage or blended families and they go through a curriculum that is specifically designed for their common interest. What happens after they’ve finished with that particular curriculum is almost always the same: they ask, “What do we do next?”
Before I answer that question I want to make a pretty obvious statement: curriculum does not make groups, people do. With that in mind, don’t sweat over finding the next great parenting curriculum, hoping that it will bond your group closer together. Don’t waste time trying to find another powerful marriage curriculum, believing that it will make people stick with your group. Stop stressing out over the fact that you can’t find a blended family curriculum, fearing that your group won’t survive without it. The bottom line is this: curriculum does not make groups, people do. So don’t major on curriculum. Major on people!
Instead, of fretting over which curriculum to use next, group leaders should master the following skills:
- Identify. Look for your group’s relational strengths and maximize them. Look for your group’s relational weaknesses and compensate for them.
- Personalize. Pick any Biblically-based curriculum and tailor the discussion questions to fit your group’s unique context.
- Example 1: “Abraham took a great step of faith when God called him. What faith step is God calling you to make as a parent?”
- Example 2: “Jesus had the power to heal the leper. How does that make you feel about the healing that he can bring to your marriage?”
- Relax. Don’t worry about the curriculum being the “exact fit” for your group. Recognize the fact that people will automatically contextualize and personalize any curriculum. Everyone filters what they learn through the experiences they’ve had or are currently having. Thus, nearly any curriculum can be relevant to their current circumstances.
- Listen and pray. As people share about how the curriculum applies to their lives, listen for their needs, feelings, and desires. Then make those things a matter of prayer. Groups that pray for and with one another grow the deepest relational bonds. This bond goes far beyond those formed over brownies and movie nights. And it certainly goes beyond the connection formed over curriculum.
Almost any curriculum can be the right curriculum for your group, you just have to make it so. Save the time you’re spending looking for the right curriculum and instead focus on turning something into the right curriculum. Who knows, when you utilize the skills listed above, the Holy Spirit might even teach your “finance” small group something profound from a study about The Song of Solomon. Okay, so that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get my point.