Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Sermon-Based Growth Groups?

In last Sunday's message, I gave 5 reasons why we at GraceSLO are committed to a sermon-based model of Growth Groups. Here are those 5 reasons again in print so you can continue you thinking about them. . . .

  1. A sermon-based model is a SCALABLE MODEL.

    Remember we’re trying to move 1000 people toward covenant community. We’re trying to help 1000 people grow spiritually. How do we do that? We’ve got 20 groups. We need 50 groups. That means lots and lots of Growth Group shepherds who must be trained and equipped to lead. That’s a lot of work.

    A sermon based model allows us to ramp up Growth Group shepherds quickly because they aren’t responsible for creating their own content, which can be both time consuming and intimidating.

    We would be hard pressed to come up with 50 leaders who’d have the gifts and, especially the time to craft and prepare a weekly bible study for a growth group. I think we’d be hard pressed to find 25 leaders who could do that. But we make it easy and doable for Growth Group shepherds. We provide the content. . . we provide a weekly training audio that’s posted on the web.

    Scalability is vital when you talk about trying spiritually grow 1000 people and more. Growth Groups are Scalable Model.

    And yet. . . .

  2. A sermon-based model is a FLEXIBLE AND OPEN MODEL.

    All we ask is that shepherds use the text of the message as a spring board. If they want to go deeper or in a different direction, that’s fine with us and some leaders do. We see a sermon-based model, not as constraining or constricting or controlling, but rather as providing great freedom for our leaders.


    Most of us are on information overload. The last thing we need is more content. What we really need is to grapple with and apply the content we’ve already received. We need to go deeper, not broader. A sermon based model is a lecture lab model . . . . it’s a hear, discuss, do model.

    After all, God’s Word is relevant and profitable for our lives, according to 2 Timothy 3:16. If what we’re doing on Sunday morning is not relevant to our lives. . .. then I’m in trouble. What am I doing with the great majority of my time? It's my great aim to drive a balanced diet of God’s Word deep into your life.

    We don’t need more. We need deeper. Growth Groups are designed to take us deeper.

    Scalability, Flexibility, Depth.


    We believe there is great value for us all to be grappling and applying the same truths throughout the week, instead of going in 20, 30, 40 different directions. We’ve seen how a sermon based model can unite the church. We think that’s powerful and desirable.

    And yet we’ve also talked about the need to address felt needs, things like marriage and parenting and other vital topics. . . . . so we’re open down the road to a few “tributary” groups that would shoot off the main stream of Growth Groups for a time. . . .

    These groups and their leaders will be individually approved on a case by case basis. . . . and would meet for a limited time after which the members would jump back into the main stream of Growth Groups.

    But again, our priority. . . our main stream will be sermon-based Growth Groups. Why? Because a sermon based model is scalable, it's flexible and open, it’s a model that encourages deep processing and application of spiritual truth, while keeping us united and growing in the same direction.

    And finally. . .

  5. A sermon based model is a MANAGEABLE MODEL.

    The church’s resources are limited and, quite frankly, in these economic times getting more limited. A sermon-based model seeks to make good use of the all the time and effort that is goes into the Sunday morning sermon.

    If everyone does whatever they want in their small groups, we have no idea where that might end up. Our leadership feels a responsibility to know and shepherd what happens in small groups that meet under the umbrella of our ministry. And yet we really don’t want to responsible for approving 20, 30, 50 different curriculums and policing the content of all our small groups.

    A sermon-based model takes the content selection challenge off the table. In other way to think about this. . . A sermon based model has built in quality control. We know what groups are talking about, because we’ve created the content.

    It's simply impossible to shepherd well a model where 20, 30, 50 groups are studying 20, 30, 50 different topics.

So for all these reasons, we’re committed to a sermon based model. We hope that gives you a bit more insight to our perspective and this important decision.

If you're interested in still more reasons for adopting a sermon-based model of small groups, check this out.


Jacquelyn said...

Pastor Tim, I really, really, really loved growth groups when my family was in one, and long to be in one again. Unfortunately what was feasible with 2 children is difficult with 4 children, especially if anyone else in the growth group has children (which makes having one babysitter and pooling the cost of babysitting difficult). Is there a creative way to manage the childcare without spending $60 a month on growth group babysitters? I'm sure the leadership has heard of some creative ideas that other GG have adopted. Please share!!!

Jeannett Gibson said...

our problem are great, but once you get 8 of them in a room together, makes it hard to get a word in edgewise! ;)

Tim said...

I hear you, gals. I addressed this a bit last Sunday with my comments about family growth groups. Your two families should start one!