By Gena McCown, Women’s Ministry Council Co-Founder
There is a subtle difference between a Bible Study and a Small Group. Bible Studies, whether they are expository or working through a book, are generally public groups. This means that participants can come and go as they please. Whereas Small Groups are a bit more intentional, regardless of the material they are choosing to study. Small Groups are usually a close knit group of people who have committed to studying with each other long term.
If you finish a study and the group disbands, and you find yourself looking for a new study to plug into, you are most likely in a Bible Study group. You like the fluidity to move into the studies that interest you, your intentions are pointed toward learning and possibly meeting new people. As a Bible Study teacher, you are selecting the material you are interested in learning, and happy to take others along for the ride. What the group looks like in regard to membership vacillates from study period to study period.
If you finish a study, and the whole group talks through what book you are all going to study next, you are most likely in a Small Group. You like the commitment to meeting regularly with this particular group of people, your intentions are pointed toward learning and building deeper relationships with this group specifically. As a Small Group leader, you discuss the options for the next study and take the groups opinions into consideration. Small Group members are also more likely to meet outside of their regular group time, for fun and fellowship. Small Group membership will remain steady over the course of time with little membership change.
There are some groups that do bridge between the two, it might be a Small Group that is always open to having new members join the group. Or, you may be a part of a Bible Study group that does fellowship every now and again. So, these are not hard fast rules… but I do believe there is a distinction between the two, and both are valuable to your Women’s Ministry. Today we are focusing on Small Groups, although some of these benefits are also gleaned from Bible Studies too.
How Does a Small Group Benefit the Women’s Ministry:
- Brunches are a great way to meet new women, but Small Groups are a beautiful way to begin building relationships.
- Small Groups are a great next step in your discipleship plan for women in the church.
- Small Groups for women specifically are welcoming for your single women, or women who are married to nonbelievers.
- Committed Small Group participants end up becoming committed Small Group leaders. We unknowingly are investing in and modeling leadership skills to those who attend our groups.
- Small Groups are an opportunity to find future Women’s Ministry team members.
- Women feel more comfortable asking questions and sharing in a Small Group, whom they have grown to trust.
- Small Groups offer a less intimidating invitation to a nonbelieving friend or family member, than inviting them to church.
- Small Groups tend to support their members during times of need and crisis. This is especially important for larger churches who may not be aware of families who are struggling. Group members minister to each other.
- Small Groups provide an opportunity to teach others studying techniques, how to pray, and other lessons that may not make it into Sunday Services.
- Small Groups encourage accountability among it’s members.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Every day they continued to meet together… they broke bread in their homes and ate together… and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42, 44, 46-47
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