by Brandon Hiltibidal
I’m sure growing up you experienced the feeling of knowing everyone else was at some glorious, talk-about-what-happened-for-years sort of party while you sat at home in your Ninja Turtle pajamas playing GameBoy, eating frozen yogurt, and talking to your mom, right?
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Seriously. You’re not hanging out without me right now, are you?
Regardless of what scars you have from high school (or last weekend), we all worry about missing out on something awesome from time to time. That’s even true for those who are serious about discipleship. I hate to say it, but if you haven’t switched your discipleship structure over to aligned content, you might be missing out. Here are three things that just might be worth swapping your GameBoy and Breyer’s time for:
1. The Bond of a Common Catalyst for Growth
The Bible is always powerful. Spiritual transformation will show up in the lives of your people whether they are all studying the same thing or not. But a beautiful bonding occurs in a church family when growth is happening as everyone walks through the same passages of Scripture. The Holy Spirit doesn’t challenge us all the same way, but when we are all on the same page of the Bible in our groups, we have a common catalyst for that change. The feel of a family gathering grows in the larger context of the church when individual groups are sharing in and growing from the same texts at the same time.
2. A Good Night’s Sleep
The burdens of making disciples are many, but one of the major weights a church leader carries is the responsibility to provide trustworthy content. When a group network is not aligned, the work required to ensure sound doctrine and the margin for error both increase. Left on his own, Bobby McFalserson might teach from a new book of the Bible he found trimming his hedges. The fear of false doctrine flying under the radar is real. When you align your groups to the same studies, chosen or crafted by you, you can hit your pillow knowing that your people are encountering Christ-centered content.
3. A Focused Missional Impact
Aligned group content can be the steering wheel that missionally moves your people into your community. Just like spiritual transformation happens outside of an aligned context, missional impact can, too, but a more focused effort is available through alignment.
When you are selecting the texts and the application targets for all of your groups at once, you can lead them to serve and evangelize your community at a specific time, in a shared way, with a single spiritual motivation. It’s not just one group at a nursing home here or one group at a soup kitchen there. Group alignment gives you the ability to direct the expressions of love of Jesus and the message of the gospel in your city in a measured and mighty way.
If you want to give aligned group content a shot, even for one series, there are many resources that can help. Perhaps the one that will give you the most freedom to choose the catalyst for growth, ensure sound doctrine, and launch aligned mission is smallgroup.com. Smallgroup.com is an easy-to-use web tool that lets you quickly create and customize Bible studies. You can choose the texts or topics for your groups. You can add any question or thought to drive discussion to a specific goal. You can set missional direction.
You’ll not just have trustworthy content, but content that fits how God is growing your people and where God is leading your people on mission. And you might sleep a little easier, Ninja Turtle PJs or not.
Brandon Hiltibidal is a former church planter and multi-site pastor. He is part of the Groups Ministry team at LifeWay Christian Resources. He and his wife have two little girls. You can read about his groups ministry and his girls on Twitter: @bmhiltibidal.