Grow together with small-group studies during Lent
Ministry through small groups is among the characteristics of a vibrant congregation. Small group ministry is also among the ways that congregations can find new life as congregants and others build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
As Discipleship Ministries says in an article on the work of a small group coordinator, “All small groups in the local church are, or could be, places of faith formation and disciple making. By offering a more intimate setting, small groups of every kind are uniquely able to welcome and nurture people in the church and in the faith.”
Lent is a great season to start or expand a small group ministry — either face-to-face or online — and introduce new participants. Lent is a time in which members are especially encouraged to grow spiritually. The start and end times for a Lent-based small group are set. The length of commitment for members is short — but long enough for them to experience the value of the relationships that develop.
Lent 2018 begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and ends at sundown on Saturday, March 31. Discipleship Ministries, Abingdon Press and The Upper Room have several new resources for groups and individuals to use as they travel through Lent and prepare for Easter.
“Rehab: A Group Study” is a five-week study based on the Lent 2018 worship series “Rehab” developed by the worship team at Discipleship Ministries. Each lesson uses the same scriptures and themes as the previous Sunday’s worship service. The recommended pattern is for people to experience the theme first in worship followed by the group study during the week that follows. Although being introduced this Lent, the study is appropriate for any time of the year.
Easter Earthquake: How Resurrection Shakes Our World (The Upper Room) is a six-week study to use between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Written by the Rev. James A. Harnish, it draws an analogy between earthquakes and Christ's Resurrection. Just as earthquakes shake the assumption that the ground will remain steady beneath our feet, the Resurrection shakes some of our basic assumptions about humans and God. It features a guide for daily meditation and prayer and an outline for small-group meetings.
Embracing the Uncertain: A Lenten Study for Unsteady Times (Abingdon Press) invites readers to wrestle with life's uncertainties. Magrey R. deVega's study focuses on six post-Transfiguration, pre-Passion stories in the Gospels to point to a world filled with uncertainty and to point forward to a cross that shows how to follow Jesus with courage, hope and obedience.
In Made for a Miracle: From Your Ordinary to God's Extraordinary (Abingdon), the Rev. Mike Slaughter says every miracle has two components: divine action and human responsibility. For a miracle to take place, God expects humans to apply their specific talents and abilities — acting with God to perform divine work. Resources for the six-week study include adult and youth study books, a comprehensive leader’s guide and a DVD.
The Lord Is Our Salvation: A Lenten Study Based on the Revised Common Lectionary (Abingdon) explores God's saving and redeeming love through study of the scripture readings for Lent and Easter. Written by the Rev. Katie Z. Dawson, the study shows God's redemption at work in the men, women and communities of the Bible. It invites a deeper understanding of the salvation Christ offers by exploring the various ways God restores humans to wholeness.
What Makes a Hero? The Death-Defying Ministry of Jesus (Abingdon) offers an image of what it looks like to be victorious over trials and temptations. Looking at pop culture heroes and others through the lens of faith, the Rev. Matt Rawle shows how Jesus turned the concept of hero on its head. The study examines how good vs. evil, right vs. wrong and overcoming adversity are fundamental to Christians' understanding of salvation. The Leader Guide contains plans for a six-session study, discussion questions and multiple format options.
Although not designed for use in small group, Sanctuary for Lent 2018 (Abingdon) contains brief readings for each day in Lent, including a scripture, a short devotion and a closing brief breath prayer. Daily readings by the Rev. Katie Z. Dawson move readers through Lent and prepare them to experience the joy of Easter. Sold in packs of 10, the booklets will fit in a #10 envelope, enabling churches to include them in Lent mailings. The Sanctuary is also available as an e-book.