What do they have in common? Not much until recently here at Brazos Pointe Fellowship. Now they’re companions. Though I’d heard of message (or sermon) based small groups, I learned about their value at a preaching conference I attended back in January. At the same time, Ronnie Whitehead, our Small Groups Pastor was looking into them as part of his ongoing research into what contributes to a great Small Group experience. Was that a coincidence? I don’t think so.
During the spring our Leadership Team began discussing the idea. We tested it with a few groups to see if it could strengthen our mission of guiding people to take their next step with God. To be sure this was something that would fit our church’s culture and vision several of our staff even traveled to the church I’d visited to learn still more. They returned convinced it would.
We were excited to launch this new strategy of message based small groups when groups began meeting together again this fall. We redesigned the message notes in Sunday’s program, adding ideas for personal study and questions for Small Group discussions to the takeaways we always had.
The results have been very encouraging. People come to adult small groups now with thoughts and questions already in mind. This, along with the extra time gained from not watching a video study has elevated the level of discussion in most groups, which in turn builds community. The opportunity to go deeper into the scripture text from Sunday and look at other parts of the Bible on the same subject has been another bonus. Furthermore, we believe it will be easier to invite a friend to small group who’s been coming to church with you since they will already be familiar with the subject and will likely have thoughts and opinions about it.
As churches grow older they sometimes become resistant to change. Yesterday’s revolutionaries often become tomorrow’s reactionaries. I always wondered if that would happen to us, now over 16 years into the journey. I’m pleased that you’ve not only accepted the change, you appear to be embracing it. I love this church!