BY COREY WADE
With my degree in Bible and almost a decade of experience teaching Sunday School, I feel it is my solemn duty to tell you that the Church has been doing small groups wrong for the last 2000 years. All those Godly men and women sadly missed the mark for over a couple millennia. But do not fear, this 29-year-old has finally figured out the secret to church growth that has eluded all our forefathers. I have laid out before you a plan to make new visitors feel most welcome when they come into your small group. Do the following steps and no one will EVER leave your small group. Since I’m hoping to turn these timeless tips into a book deal, I have broken these steps into a catching and life affirming acronym:
Depth: Visitors want to know that your small group is serious about the word of God. Therefore, stay away from studying the “easy” books like Genesis, Psalms, or anything in the New Testament. If you are not engrossed in a study on genealogies in Chronicles, how will they know that you really love Jesus? Also immediately gauge a new visitor’s Biblical acumen by having them read the text for the day. Since you are already spending all your time in Old Testament genealogies, they will definitely come across some unpronounceable names. Their ability to pronounce these names will give you the best test of how much they love the B-I-B-L-E.
Entimacy: This is NOT misspelled. Acronyms are hard!!!! New visitors want to come into a small group and feel like family. Therefore, DO NOT use name tags. You don’t need a nametag to remember your sister’s name do you? In fact, it is best to not acknowledge that they are a visitor and just pretend they have been a part of your group for the past 3 years. Inside jokes are the best way to accomplish this. If your fascist Sunday School director makes your class use name tags, make sure that your visitors overhear a conversation such a this: “Where’s my name tag? We need to wear them because THEY are here.” This will assure them that you are the type of close knit small group that doesn’t need these frivolous appendages.
Accountability: We are to hold each other up as brothers and sisters in Christ. When a new visitor comes, it’s very important to create an atmosphere of confession. Therefore, make sure to ask them to share with the class the worst sin that they have every committed. You will be able to see the look of relief on their face from having such an open and honest place for Bible study.
Togetherness: As we share one another's burdens, allow the visitor to be the one to open the class in prayer. But be careful not to squelch the Holy Spirit in doing this. It is best to not explicitly ask them to lead in prayer. Instead everyone should make eye contact with the visitor until the Holy Spirit leads them to begin praying. This may take time. Do not rush the Holy Spirit’s work.
Healing: With such a welcoming and holy small group as yours, allow the visitor to release all the scars that Christians who are not as holy as you have caused them. Open up the discussion by venting openly about how awful all other groups are. This will help the visitor feel comfortable to openly complain about all the outsiders as well. Nothing builds better community than the comradery that comes from your small group squaring off against all the other Christians of the world. This is Band of Brothers kind of stuff here.
And there you go! Follow the DEATH guidelines and your small group will come alive!
Corey Wade decided to put his Biblical Studies degree to good use by becoming a PGA Golf Professional in Crossville, Tennessee. He and his beautiful wife Karyn are foster parents currently with three children that are apart of their forever family. His main hobbies include reading boring books, drinking coffee, and starting new hobbies only drop them weeks later. He secretly desires to be a reformed hipster and quote Augustine, but doesn't like the way his legs look in skinny jeans. You can contact him on twitter @cwadepga or his email firstname.lastname@example.org. Go Vols!!!