Archive for the ‘Sermon-Based Small Groups’ category

Best Practices of Sermon Based Small Group Churches

July 3, 2009

Senior Pastor First

What are the best practices found in churches that use sermon-based small groups? Here’s the first practice I found in interviews and research with churches that use the model.

In the churches that use the SBSG approach, the senior pastor is the key player. He was bought in to the process of making disciples in small groups and saw the significance of using the SBSG approach. Some churches in the surveys did say the senior pastor needed to have buy-in before a staff and church could move forward in the process of implementing a SBSG model. This buy-in avoids personality and control challenges among the church leadership.

In churches that use the SBSG approach, the senior pastor is involved personally in a small group. The pastor does not set up a program or an opportunity he does not take part in himself. The pastor’s personal participation gives credibility to the most important process in a church, disciple making.

In churches that use the SBSG approach, the senior pastor is involved in the discipleship of other leaders. There are times when the senior pastor is not the main leader of the SBSG leaders. Other executive pastor level leaders do lead the small group leaders. The best churches minister to the leaders consistently and closely so the small group leaders are healthy and can reproduce.

A good freind of mine, who is also a mentor, has told me for years that 90-95% of pastors are not in any kind of small group (Dr. Daryl Eldridge, I’ve found this to be true. Yet pastors expect people to grow in community. We wonder why the church today is so anemic? Maybe it’s becuase we have gotten so far away from “disciple-making” in leu of programs and events. Jesus selected 12 “that they might be with Him” so He could teach them to preach and cast our demons (Mark 3:13-15).

Pastors, are you making disciples? Could you list 12 you’ve invested in for 2 1/2 years like Jesus did the 12? Why not? Let me encourage you to invest in 12-14 for a year. Teach that group to reproduce itself. Your people will thank you for it.


Paul Cho, Larry Osborne, and Sermon Based Small Groups

June 5, 2009

What’s a sermon based small group? It’s a group of believers who meet weekly to flesh out the Big Idea of the Sunday morning message. But where did this idea come from? Who is using the sermon based small group model? 

Well, I’ll be posting soon on how the scriptures provide the biblical foundation for sermon based groups. But where did they start in modern culture? Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho, Pastor of the Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul, Korea used sermon based groups. He didn’t call his groups that. He called them “cell groups.” Nevertheless, he used sermon based groups. These groups were led by women. That was a problem in Korean culture by itself. When starting his cell group ministry, he said:

I could see that she was right (that Cho had to release the women only under his authority to lead), and so that very day I began to write out my sermon notes and distribute them to the cell leaders. I called a meeting of all the leader for every Wednesday, and at the meeting I would distribute the notes and explain them, and tell the women what I wanted them to teach (Cho, Successful Home Cell Groups, 34-35). 

Cho used the lecture lab model as a matter of convenience. I’m not sure how long his church used them. I doubt they were the model they used as a model. In Korea, the church culture was drastically different than the in the West. Cho’s groups were evangelistic groups because of the communal nature of the Korean culture. Larry Osborne has a great chapter in Sticky Church called “Why Cho’s Model Didn’t Work in Your Church?” If you have not read that book, get it asap and read it comparing your disciple making process with the North Coast model. You will be challenged. Larry Osborne is an expert at using sermon based small groups.

How often have you heard a message and thought to yourself, “I wish I could get people to discuss this message so we could internalize it, be motivated in group by it, and actually do what the message challenged us to do?” People are talking about preaching. Why not help them do it in a way that’s not negative, “roast preacher” after the weekend experience? Why not start a few sermon based small groups in your church. Expand your preaching!

Sermon Based Small Groups

May 23, 2009

Well, now  that I’ve finished my doctoral work, it’s time to blog on it some. When I came back from my last residency at Gordon-Conwell, I had no idea what I would write about. I had planned to write on a couple of other possibilities. But, they didn’t work out. I was either going to write on the preaching ministry of EK Bailey, or on the priority of prayer when preaching. For some reason, I got back on the plane without an approved doctoral proposal. SO, on the plane at 30,000 feet the Spirit spoke in a book I was reading: Simple Church by Thom Rainer. In the book, Rainer identified a Southern Baptist Church that used sermon-based small groups in its Sunday School model. It was then that I decided I would do a proposal on researching sermon-based small groups as a valid way to make disciples. 

communityI knew nothing of sermon-based small groups. Serious! Nothing. The topic intrigued me because I not only love hermeneutics and homiletics, but also making disciples. In the end, I learned so much. I became a better disciple and disciple maker. My view of ministry became more focused. I stopped relying on events and programs as the way to hide and not make disciples. I volunteered to teach a Sunday School class, which I didn’t have to do, and started a small group out  of the class. I know for sure I’m making disciples who will in turn be able to make disciples. The journey made me a better leader. 

I’m fully convinced sermon-based small groups are the best way to help believers grow in their faith. This is especially true in our busy, complex culture.

I’m going to begin a series of posts that will explain the journey I took and what I learned in the research. Who did I meet? Where did the sermon-based group start? Who is the Patriarch of the movement? Why are sermon-based groups better than other groups? 

Stay tuned. Let’s take the journey together. Are you making disciples?