Bible study groups play a vital role in believers’ spiritual growth and community building within churches. Groups provide a platform for believers to deepen their understanding of Scripture, connect with fellow Christians, and apply biblical teaching to their daily lives. And there are at least 10 compelling reasons launching new Bible study groups can have a transformative impact on individuals and the church.
- New groups tend to be outwardly focused
It is a truism of group life that once a group has been meeting for 18 to 24 months, it begins to turn inward. People become close and relationships go to deeper levels after months of praying, serving, and relating to one another. The way to counteract groups turning inward is to start new groups. New groups challenge members to be more excited and motivated to find others who need connection—both with people and the Lord.
- New groups overcome “The LEGO factor”
LEGO blocks (the larger rectangular ones) have eight connector nobs. When a group has been meeting for 18 to 24 months or longer, people tend to get “LEGOed up” with other group members. They find friends to stick to, and their calendars get full. When this happens, the energy and desire to nurture new relationships wane, and connecting with newcomers can become more difficult. When churches start new Bible study groups, founding members disperse, giving them time and energy to invest in new members. To use the LEGO illustration, they have open connectors and can handle the addition of new people to their lives.
- New groups create onramps for disengaged people
Every church has people who have dropped out of Bible study groups for one reason or another. And the longer they’re absent, the harder it is for them to reconnect with the group. It can be an awkward experience to “just show up” again. New groups give absentees an easier way to get back into group life by connecting with a group where they can get a fresh start.
- New groups deepen spiritual growth
A primary benefit of participating in a Bible study group is the opportunity for spiritual growth and deepening faith. Engaging in group discussions, studying Scripture together and sharing personal insights and experiences help individuals gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word. Research for the Transformational Church project demonstrated that people in Bible study groups serve more, pray more, give more, confess sin more, are more open to outsiders and share their faith more than people who are not in a Bible study group.
- New groups accelerate fellowship and community building
Launching new groups promotes fellowship and community building among church members who may not have been engaged in groups previously. New groups provide spaces for individuals to form meaningful relationships with fellow believers. These people share a common interest in studying the Bible and are often in common life stages (such as groups for parents with preschoolers or people who are empty-nest adults). The connections they form often extend beyond the study sessions, fostering lasting friendships and a stronger sense of community.
- New groups are places of accountability and encouragement
Joining a Bible study group offers personal accountability and encouragement in one’s spiritual journey. Group members can hold each other accountable for regular study and application of biblical principles. This mutual accountability helps individuals stay committed to their spiritual growth and encourages them to live out their faith in practical ways. Furthermore, Bible study groups provide a supportive environment where members can openly share their struggles, seek advice and receive encouragement from others who may have faced similar challenges.
- New groups develop new leaders
Bible study groups provide a platform for leadership development and discipleship within the church. When new groups launch, opportunities arise for emerging leaders to step into leadership roles and use their spiritual gifts. New groups need new sets of leaders. These fledgling groups are often successful in recruiting their founding members into leadership roles such as prayer leaders, outreach leaders, fellowship leaders and other key positions. Sometimes people in new groups wear a couple of hats and lead multiple ministries within the group. But they must surrender leadership roles to newer members of the group learning to lead certain aspects of the group.
- New groups fill in the gaps
All churches need new groups to meet the needs of people in the church or community who may not have an ideal group to meet with. Perhaps there are unreached people groups in the community that would attend Bible study if there was a group for them. Sometimes churches need new groups for current members of the church who don’t have a group that meets their needs.
- New groups help the church grow
The goal of any church’s groups ministry is to make disciples. The Great Commission is quite clear about this (Matt. 28:18-20). Every new group that is properly started reaches an average of 10 new people. Starting two new groups will almost always result in 20 more people being reached for Bible study and discipleship. The more groups you start, the more people you will reach and place on your church’s discipleship pathway.
- New groups make a positive financial impact
Every church has a per capita giving figure that is consistent over the years. Churches discover their per capita giving by dividing the average weekly offering by the average number of people in groups. As churches start new groups, the people in them will begin giving financially. And the church’s tithes and offerings will increase.
If a new group reaches an average of 10 people and that group reaches the low per capita amount of $20, one new group adds around $11,000 to a church’s annual giving. Imagine the financial impact of starting a new group when the per capita giving of the church is $40 or even $50 or when a church launches multiple groups in a calendar year. Starting new groups demonstrates obedience to The Great Commission, which provides the blessing of new monies for ministries, personnel, debt reduction, and more.
Launching new groups is one of the best strategies for reaching new people, involving people in leadership, community-building and making disciples. New groups have a transformative impact on individuals and churches.
Some churches will start more new groups than others. But don’t let that hold you back from starting new groups in a normative-sized church of 70 people or less. Your goal may be to launch one new group. And if it is, do that well. If your church has the ability to launch multiple groups, do that well also.
The Kingdom benefits when we all recognize the power of launching new groups and take steps to make room for new disciples to experience the power of the Gospel.