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Resources for Home Group Leaders

Home group leaders play a vital role in the life of most churches, and yet they are quite often some of the most under-resourced people doing ministry in our congregations.

At Matthias Media, we highly value the work that home group leaders do, and we really want to support you in that role. One of the ways we can value you, is by spelling out what we believe your role is. That in itself will remind us all of how vital it is.

Colin Marshall, in Chapter 10 of his book Growth Groups, uses three biblical metaphors to describe home group leaders (or as we like to call them, 'growth group leaders'), and then sets out six concrete aspects to the growth group leader's job:

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Shepherd: The Growth Group leader is much more than a facilitator, administrator or coordinator. Shepherd is a better description. The leader guides the group by teaching the word of God.

Servant: The aim of a Growth Group leader is to serve rather than be served... There are many ways in which a leader serves a group... but there is a primary service which a leader provides for the group—teaching the gospel. To bring the group into the knowledge and salvation of Christ is our highest calling as servants.

Steward: As Growth Group leaders, what constitutes success? We could have all kinds of parameters to evaluate our leadership... However, the measure of success as stewards is our faithfulness in God’s business. Have we held on tenaciously to the truth of the gospel against all attacks and taught this gospel to the group? We are not responsible for the final outcome in others, or how dynamic the group feels, but we must be trustworthy teachers of God’s word.

Growth Groups Manual

To be more concrete, here is an outline of the job of a Growth Group leader:
» To lead in Bible study, prayer and evangelism.
» To set the group’s goals and agenda and work out its regular program. (See below.)
» To be aware of the spiritual state of members and take appropriate action. Are they Christians? In what issues of Christian thinking, behavior and relationships do they need to grow?
» To get the group working together in love and unity, using their gifts to minister to each other.
» To work in consultation with the church staff/pastors to deal with particular matters beyond the scope of the group.
» To communicate enthusiastically the aims and activities of the wider congregation to which the group belongs.

Growth Groups is a goldmine of helpful training input for growth group leaders, covering topics like: what a growth group is for, preparing a Bible study, leading a Bible study, how to write good questions, dealing with different personalities, prayer, evangelism, and much more. It also functions as an excellent training program for new leaders.

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The other helpful input Matthias Media offers is a regular email newsletter called "The Home Group Leader's Monthly Digest". This is a monthly digest of ideas, articles, and links, plus information and samples of small group resources. Sign-up to this service is completely free, and you can unsubscribe at any time with one click of the mouse button.

Special offer: Use the following coupon code in your Matthias Media online shopping cart to get a 33% discount off the price of a copy of the Growth Groups manual:
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Planning a program for your growth group

When we meet as Christians, we do so in fellowship with each other, caring for each other and responding to each other’s changing needs. But we also meet for the purpose of growth and training: growing in our knowledge of God, strengthening our faith, and training each other to be better able to serve and encourage others with the word of God.

One of the ways you care for the members of your group is by thoughtfully planning the year's program—i.e. where you are leading your group and how to get there. (You might like to watch the introductory video for small group leaders on our video page. Number 4 on the playlist.)

So what do you choose? What constitutes a healthy diet of small group study? We recommend the "50/25/25" approach:

“ One of the ways you care for the members of your group is by thoughtfully planning the year's program. ”

» 50% of the study time available spent in expositional Bible study, i.e. working through a NT or OT book;
» 25% spent doing different kinds of studies, such as topical or character studies, or reading a Christian book; and
» 25% spent doing practical ministry training—such as a course in evangelism, or how to follow-up new Christians, or training for some other aspect of Christian service. (NB. You’re not giving up the Bible in this training—there’s lots of Bible content in Matthias Media courses.)

This 50/25/25 approach ensures that your learning is directed by your study of the Scriptures, and that you keep in mind the aim of serving others and spreading the gospel by training each other in these tasks.

Our small group expositional Bible study guides fall into two main series:

Interactive Bible StudiesPathway Bible Guides

» Pathway Bible Guides—short, simple, straightforward studies for groups with limited experience or time; and

» Interactive Bible Studies—our mainstream series of Bible studies providing challenging, insightful study material for established Christians.

The Interactive Bible Studies series also has five titles in it that deal with topics (money, prayer, doctrine, singing in church, and womanhood). But one of the best ways to study a topic is with our Multimedia studies—covering topics like guidance, holiness and the big picture of the Bible.

Another helpful way to cover a topic in your group is to make use of the discussion guides in our Guidebooks for Life series.

When it comes to training, we have a growing range of courses which are specifically designed for running in a small home-based group, using DVD input, Bible study, role plays and discussion. This includes our Six Steps... series of courses: Six Steps to Encouragement, Six Steps to Talking About Jesus, and Six Steps to Reading Your Bible. The So Many Questions course is also a very useful apologetics course for small groups.

Growth Groups Manual

Not quite fitting into any of the above categories is The Course of Your Life. This is a DVD-based course that can certainly be run in a home group context. Flowing out of the ideas in The Trellis and the Vine, The Course of Your Life is a course we think every Christian should do at some point—to take a step back and think about what life is about—big picture, stretching stuff.

Set out below are some sample yearly plans for different kinds of groups based on the "50/25/25" approach. Remember though, your group is made up of individuals. They are not necessarily all at the same stage of Christian development. The majority of your group may be mature Christians who need to be stretched and trained. But there may be one or two who actually need some basic follow-up to establish them more firmly in the foundations. That’s where you need to be proactive as a leader and cater not just for the group as a whole, but perhaps meet one-to-one with some of those group members that need some extra help.

Conversely, not all your group members may be quite ready to do training, such as in how to lead a small group themselves. But it might be good for you to meet with the one or two who are ready for that and train them so that they can share the leadership with you for a few months and then start their own new group.

If you haven’t done so already, why not pause now and think about the people in your group. Ask God to give you wisdom to discern where they are up to the in their Christian life and how to cater for their growth. It might even make for a very interesting conversation to talk to them individually about it.

Small Group Yearly Plans

The sample plan below outlines a way to cover key books of the Bible and topics over a two year period. (It might even be a goal for your group to plan to divide up after those two years and lead others through these foundational studies.)

Year 1

Year 2

Full of Promise (OT overview studies)—8 weeks News of the Hour (Mark)—10 weeks
Beyond Eden (Genesis 1-11)—8 weeks Six Steps to Talking About Jesus—6 weeks
Six Steps to Encouragement—6 weeks Simply Chrisitianity course*—5 weeks
The Free Gift of Life (Romans 1-6)—8 weeks From Sinner to Saint (Holiness)—5 weeks
Bold I Approach (Prayer)—6 weeks The Free Gift of Sonship (Romans 7-11)—8 weeks

* Note: having done the Six Steps to Talking About Jesus course, the aim of the Simply Christianity course is to provide an evangelistic opportunity for group members to invite non-Christian friends and family to read the Bible in an informal home group context.


The following alternate plan would be a little more suitable for a group of newer Christians, or a group with a little less time for each session, with slightly simpler studies.

Year 1

Year 2

Back to Basics—7 weeks Getting to Know God (Exodus 1-20)—8 weeks
Following Jesus (Luke 9-12)—7 weeks Six Steps to Talking About Jesus—6 weeks
Six Steps to Reading Your Bible—6 weeks Simply Chrisitianity course*—5 weeks
Beginning with God (Genesis 1-12)—8 weeks Standing Firm (1 Thessalonians)—8 weeks
Faith—6 weeks Where to Lord (Guidance)—6 weeks

* Note: having done the Six Steps to Talking About Jesus course, the aim of the Simply Christianity course is to provide an evangelistic opportunity for group members to invite non-Christian friends and family to read the Bible in an informal home group context.

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