Whether you’re launching new group or have been together as a group for years, choosing the curriculum can be a challenge. These are some of the questions I’ve faced as a group leader and have been asked by group leaders.
Is it better to choose the curriculum myself or let the group choose? What if I want to dig into a certain topic but half the group doesn’t seem interested? How do I handle it when everyone in the group has no opinion? Or they have different opinions? What are my options?
To choose or not to choose
When a group is established, as the leader you tend to know what the group would connect with, need and like. They trust what you choose. In my early days I’d throw out broad questions, “What topic or study do you want to do next?” Everyone would blink as if I’d just asked if they’d been to Mars. They would go silent. And after a few shrugs, the room would start buzzing with side conversations. Whether it was because having no options was too overwhelming or because they didn’t care what we talked about since we could make any study topic engaging, I soon learned to be the leader and just choose.
Small tight-knit groups usually prefer to have a say, so it helps to bring no more than 3 options to the table to see what resonates with them.
With new groups, I’ve noticed it’s best to decide what you’ll be studying right from the start. Participants feel safe knowing what to expect, and it helps them feel confident this is the group for them. However, as you’re inviting them and connecting before the first meeting, I’ve found it helpful to ask what they’re hoping for in a study.
Questions to consider when you’re choosing curriculum
What’s your common ground – is it your stage of life? Stage of their spiritual journey? The mission you’re on together?
What’s your learning and relationship building objective for the group? Do you want to rally them together? Shake things up?
What are the group members hungry for? We are most motivated to grow and apply what we learn when it’s relevant to our questions and struggles, rather than what we “should” learn. With that in mind, what studies or topics would relate to this?
Does everyone already know each other or will you be establishing trust and getting to know each other from scratch?
Why did this group come together? What studies would help make the most of that purpose in a way that points to trusting Jesus with their burdens while developing friendships?
What curriculum have other groups like yours enjoyed? You can ask other group leaders or your area pastor for ideas.
Where to find curriculum for your group
If you’re just starting out your group, you’ve put your thoughts down using the Dream Guide and talked through your start-up ideas with your area pastor, you probably already have an idea of what you want to use.
However, what do you choose after that? And after that?
Here some popular sources of content available in DVD format, leaders guides, discussion questions, book of the Bible studies and online streaming:
Central provides each person a gift subscription to this video library for every person in your church. There are biblically based kids shows, teaching videos, group studies and documentaries. You can stream it on your smartphone, AppleTV, computer, and more. Many of the group curriculum have free or paid discussion handouts and/or leaders guides to help you facilitate the conversation.
If you don’t have a login yet, you can request one here: https://centralcc.typeform.com/to/fayZZK
You’ll find the RNM library here: https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Library
You can contact the Ministry Team Coordinator through the week to arrange a time to browse through group curriculum that’s located in the onsite Resource Centre. Or on Sundays just ask the Resource Team where to find the groups section. Most of the studies have a leaders guide to help you facilitate the conversation and flow of our group meeting.
Sunday Message Discussion Guide
During the 8-week group semesters in which community groups meet, discussion guides are available to download so groups can follow along the current Sunday teaching. You can find them at under centralcc.ca/watch, click on the week’s video you want to study further and discuss. You’ll find the PDF link under the video marked Downloads / LifeGroup Notes.
Request Something New
If there’s a study that isn’t available through Central and you are confident your group and others would enjoy it, you can also contact the Ministry Team Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to request it be ordered. General practice: Central will cover the cost of the DVD and leaders guide; any participant guide costs would be the financial responsibility of the group members.
Need a place to start? Here are some studies other groups have enjoyed and felt spiritually challenged – in a good way.
The Book of James by Francis Chan [RightNow Media]
If by Mark Batterson [Resource Library; RightNow Media]
The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh
Doctrine by Francis Chan (in RightNow Media and the Resource Library]
Breathing Room by Andy Stanley (RightNow Media and the Resource Library]
The God I Never Knew by Robert Morris [Resource Library]