North Americans are extremely busy. Recent studies indicate that Americans work the longest hours in the industrialized world. Between 1977 and 1997, the average workweek among salaried Americans lengthened from 43 to 47 hours. Over the same years, the number of workers putting in 50 or more hours a week jumped from 24 to 37 percent. The majority of small group leaders face the same hectic work weeks as their secular counterparts.
One way to relieve tension and provide quality control is to give the small group leader a well-designed lesson based on the pastor’s sermon. Let me explain why and then proceed to examine the how.
Five Reasons to Base the Small Group Lesson on the Pastor’s Sunday Sermon
1. It connects small group with large group (Sunday celebration)
Using lessons based on the Sunday sermon connects the small group with the large group. This practice serves as a constant reminder that the small group isn’t an independent entity doing its own thing. The larger purpose and vision of the small group is to build the local church. The expectation is that those in the small group are also part of the larger gathering on Sunday—or at least being evangelized to eventually hook into the celebration service.
2. It applies the expository/teaching message to real 24/7 life
I like a church that has a well-planned preaching schedule and skillfully exegetes God’s inerrant Word from the pulpit. Yet, the best churches humbly realize that even excellent sermons are inadequate to completely transform the hearers. George Barna and others are reporting that those inside the U.S. church are not applying what they hear. Statistics demonstrate that North American church goers are not significantly different from those outside the church (e.g., ethics, morals, divorce, pornography, etc.). When a church asks each member to discuss and apply the Sunday message in a small group during the week, there’s a far greater chance that transformation, rather than information, will take place.