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Integrating Spiritual Formation Practices into GroupLife

One of the most important trends in small group ministry is the way spiritual formation practices are being integrated into small group curriculum.  I listed it as one of the top 5 trends right here.  It’s popping up in a variety of ways.

One of the most prominent ways that spiritual formation is showing up is the inclusion of small group oriented questions in books like those in James Bryan Smith’s The Apprentice Series (The Good and Beautiful Community, The Good and Beautiful God, and The Good and Beautiful Life) or Trevor Hudson’s Discovering Our Spiritual Identity.  Including a set of questions or experiential assignments in the book itself makes it much more likely that groups will choose to use the book as curriculum.

Another key ingredient to the trend is the availability of small group curriculum that develops a spiritual formation pathway.  Early examples of this idea can be found in Zondervan’s Pursuing Spiritual Transformation series, particularly Fully Devoted, providing hands-on experiential elements in preparation for the group time.  Lifeway’s Formation: Building a Reliable Foundation is a more recent addition to the resource library.

It should also be mentioned that John Ortberg’s The Me I Want To Be is now available as a church-wide campaign.  The combination of DVD-driven small group curriculum (developed in Ortberg’s “Dallas-Willard-for everyone” style), available weekend sermon outlines, and promotional materials (bulletin shells, postcards, posters, and powerpoint slides) makes it possible to take your whole church on a spiritual formation journey.

Finally, the combination of an online experience with a printed or downloadable study guide is becoming more common.  In addition to the robust Monvee (with it’s visual experience and available small group curriculum), Chazown (based on Craig Groeschel’s book by the same name)  provides a simpler, more defined formation experience based on the idea of becoming what God had in mind for you when you were created.

Whichever angle you choose for your small group ministry it is becoming much more common for spiritual formation to be introduced or encouraged through the delivery system of grouplife.  I think you’ll agree, it makes a lot of sense to integrate the two into one experience.

Are you aware of other books, curriculum, or online experiences that promote spiritual formation in the context of a group?  Use the comment section to join the conversation!  You can add your two cents right here!.

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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.