I’m a huge proponent of Community Groups, Small Groups, Cell Groups, or whatever your church calls their groups.  I get the privilege of working alongside a great group of guys who all have a passion to see people draw closer to God through community.  However, I’m not ignorant enough to believe everyone thinks groups are the best way to make disciples.  Today, I want to ramble for a bit about one of the arguments I always hear against groups.

Many people dislike groups because they are sold on a model of making disciples that involves one teacher teaching extensively while the students/pupils/attendees sit and frantically take notes.  So the question is: can solid Biblical teaching and groups co-exist or are they absolutely independent of one another?  Some would claim that they can’t exist together, but I would absolutely disagree. 

I’m currently in a group that just finished reading through Tim Keller’s book “The Reason for God.”  Our group is made up of Christians and non-Christians, regular church attenders and people who love Jesus but not the church.  Yet every week we have great conversation about the latest chapter we read that week.  We discuss, and teach one another from our unique perspectives and from our unique studies.  Here’s the kicker though, I’m supposed to be the leader, but I’m learning something every week.  In a teacher/student model I’d be the guy talking for 45 minutes, but in the community model I’m one of the ones learning.

The beauty of conversation over note-taking is that often we learn more from conversations that taking countless pages of notes. 

We see that application in others’ lives and realize how it fits into ours.  Just because there isn’t a head “teacher” in a group, doesn’t mean there isn’t learning happening.

Have you been in a conversational Bible study before?  Was it easier or harder for you to apply the lesson to your life than from note-taking?

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8 responses to Teaching.

  1. I just realized that I’ve been spoiled. My small group (or “Life Group” as our church calls them) has always followed the conversation model. It’s great! We get to voice our different perspectives and wind up learning and retaining a lot more than we would in a classroom model. Plus we get to develop our relationships in the process. It’s definitely the way to go!

    • Yeah, I\’m pretty spoiled too in that way. But I\’ve heard numerous people rail against the conversation model for different reasons.

  2. I like the conversation model, but I think it’s essential for their to be a wise, knowledgeable leader. Conversational styles have the potential to devolve into just sharing ignorance. People may start sharing principles that they’ve heard in the culture but are unbiblical. I think a discerning leader needs to be there to assist in helping the group understand the theology of what they’re talking about.

    But other than that caveat, it’s a great way to learn. It’s so fun to hear someone say something that just blows you away. Everyone can learn from everyone.

    • Excellent point, Loren. I agree, that the conversational model can break down quickly if there\’s not a strong leader who can point back to the Bible. However, I think it also can be successful with a good resource and even a lead who can just keep the group on track. Some churches hold the \”if you can breathe you can lead\” concept, and I\’m not quite there. I think a good Biblically sound leader is important, but I also think that you don\’t have to be a scholar to lead. A passion for God\’s Word is the utmost thing we look for in potential leaders. Great thoughts though. The leader is important.

  3. Our church has a number of smaller ‘home groups’ that meet on a weekly basis in peoples homes, our group has a biblicaly knowledgable leader that structures the group and the topics but we all take turns to lead each session and everyone who wants to chip in can. It is a great way of learning, rather than coming home and thinking what was all that about, you can go through it there and then.

  4. I struggle to call it the conversational model because it seems so stale but that makes up about 90% of what we do here in Paraguay. It just works for this culture. We look to 1Thes 2:8 and Acts 2:43-47 to pattern after. It’a about an investment in the people around us. All of us are not on the same walk or same level of that walk. Conversation allows for questions and exploration.

  5. Yeah, the most helpful conversation groups are story-oriented. Have you heard of orality? It’s basically an oral tradition revival.