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Three Essential Activities for Your Class or Group
by Tom Goodman
March 12, 2009

Can an over-emphasis on Bible study actually hurt your Sunday School class or Common Ground group?  Bill Search thinks so.

But, he says, so can an over-emphasis on fellowship to the neglect of good Bible study.  Likewise, an over-emphasis on service projects to the neglect of fellowship can harm your Sunday School class or Common Ground group.

In this article, Search discusses three core tasks every class or group should fulfill: connecting, changing, and cultivating.  He says that "we should try to harmonize them and avoid letting one pattern become the obsession of the group that swamps all the others."

But some groups or classes get obsessed with one task to the neglect of the other two.

First, there are the "Connecting-Obsessed Groups."  This is a group that simply wants fellowship to flourish among their members.  "A group that is obsessed with connecting," Search writes, "might start strong but end with a fizzle," because "the connecting pattern alone will not hold a group together for long."

Second, there are the "Change-Obsessed Groups."  These groups "usually have an insatiable thirst for intense 'Bible study' that leads to becoming more like Jesus in a particular area."  Isn't that what we want of our Sunday School classes or Common Ground groups?  Well, Search says if the only reason you're gathering is to gain biblical information, your group won't last.  For example, he recalls moving hundreds of people through an excellent curriculum on financial stewardship, but only a few groups ever continued after the material ended:

The material was highly structured.  Side conversations had to be kept to a minimum and discussion was discouraged, since the limited time was to be spent answering the questions in the book and watching the video.  The closest thing to relational development was the one potluck night and a brief time to share prayer requests....  That ultimately squashed the little community that was beginning to form.  In the long run, change might have been even more significant if we journeyed with the same people beyond ten weeks.

Third, there are the "Cultivating-Obsessed Groups."  These groups focus on "developing a missional life focused on serving and sharing the faith."  Again, the passion is commendable, but the group won't last without harmonizing this passion with the work of building fellowship ("connection") and engaging in Bible study ("change").  "Some cultivation groups are designed to last only for a season," Search notes, "but many people lament forming relationships only to lose them when the project is over."

Does your Sunday School class or Common Ground group harmonize these three activities, or do you find a particular activity dominating your class or group?  Lift up a prayer for your leaders, and do your part to help your class or group pursue all three priorities.


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