Adult Education – Small Groups

Our May 2017 Church Leaders Roundtable focused on adult faith formation. Some of the conversation centered around small groups as a model for adult Christian education. While small groups are popular, they can burn out pretty quickly. Participants in the roundtable discussed models of small groups they found to be most successful.

One model of small group is a supper club where members of the group share meals at each others’ home. This model offers great fellowship, but can be lacking in the Christian education/faith formation area. Another model that offers good fellowship with a bit more faith formation offers small groups that stem from a particular area of interest: running, knitting, grandparenting, etc. Church staff and the Christian education ministry team offer a devotion that is used by each of the small groups, and the groups commit to use the devotion in each meeting and pray for one another.

There are two common models that are based primarily on deepening faith and education. One is an intense, weekly model that requires daily work. This could be a group using the Companions in Christ or Disciple curriculum, or other long term studies. The second model that is popular is a short-term (6-8 week) study around a particular topic or book that the whole church is focused on, often that is supported by a sermon series. There would be multiple small groups that congregation members could be a part of, all of which would meet at different times so that there are options for a wide variety of schedules.

What models of small groups have been successful in your own adult faith formation efforts? Let us know by commenting below!

Building Connections at the Online Church Leaders’ Roundtable

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. For January and February, MaryAnn McKibben Dana is curating a month of reflections on technology, faith, and church. Join the conversation here or on Facebook

By Kyle Hite

Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea.” Why, then, do we spend so much energy trying to prove him wrong? As church leaders we are continually working to stay fresh and alive, but who says it has to be “new”? The beauty of NEXT Church is a willingness to be open-source, to share what has been tried including the successes and failures, in hopes that what once was old can be made new. Creativity is not exclusively the invention of something new, but the willingness to venture outside of the norm. To foster an arena of creativity I suggested we have an online conversation with a swath of colleagues from around the country. Technology, in its best form, can expand the reach of our relationships and open new horizons. This “roundtable”, as we have termed it, would not have the usual “expert” to present an idea, but experts on the ground to share our attempts at creativity and hopefully spark the creative juices in one another.

Gathering together across our geographical boundaries defines the connectional nature of our tradition. We often speak of being “connected” with our colleagues but remain in tight circles with those who represent similar theological and social perspectives. This homogeny can stifle creativity. Unfortunately within our denomination of late, the only time we converse with those who differ from us, is when there is a vote to follow – and we all know how that turns out. The roundtable is a way to cross boundaries, spawn ideas and support one another in our common pursuit.

When we join together each month, every person around the “table” brings their satchel of goodies and a story of success and failure. The participants briefly introduce themselves and then we jump in. We have learned a lot over our time in this new medium. For starters, musicians and educators do a better job keeping the conversation going. Second, we church people can really multitask as some have participated while commuting, or laying on a beach or playing with their children on a playground. Third, there are some really brave people out there pushing the boundaries and pioneering new models of ministry.

These discoveries reveal the resiliency of a people on a mission. If the roundtable does nothing else, it exposes the strength of our worshiping communities and the work of our church. Through the roundtable, I have met people I would not otherwise have met. I have seen from a new set of eyes and though it is beautiful where I sit in Greenwood, South Carolina, it is a blessing to see the beauty in other worlds as well.


To read more about the Online Church Leaders’ Roundtable and sign-up for the next one, click here! For examples of the sort of resources are shared, check out these posts that came out of the November roundtable on advent. 


Kyle HiteWhen not hosting the NEXT’s Church Leaders’ Online Roundtable, Kyle Hite serves as the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Greenwood, South Carolina.