Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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Starting a Small Group from Scratch

I am fairly new to the agency where I work, but have discovered that there aren’t any small group studies going on (it's a small agency). I know of a few believers there, but not many. I have it upon my heart to start a small group study, but I will be honest that my main intention for starting one is so I can be fed and help accountable in the workplace, and not really to evangelize.

That said, with the likelihood of getting a critical mass of believers together to start a study being small, I’m interested in opinions on how to go about starting an investigative or other seeker-friendly study. For such studies in the workplace, how have you all dealt with issues of rank, supervision, etc., especially in terms of the non-believers who may be more uncomfortable/more not used to having discussions of faith with a superior than a believer would? I’d be interested to hear about the experiences each of you have faced.
Editor's Introduction:  Thomas, our newest contributor, is a skilled and well-grounded Christian leader with whom I've worked and served in years past.  He brings a solid grasp of Biblical theology and years of experience with church leadership, as well as a quick and penetrating intellect.  I look forward to his posts with eagerness.  Thomas begins (above) with a series of questions that go to the heart of this blog:  how to start a new small group

By the way, this offers me the opportunity to offer a tip for all our readers:  you can sort these posts by label ... look down the right side of the page until you see the section marked:  "CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR? SORT BY LABEL!"  In this case, I would click on "Techniques" to get a list of posts which address this question from various angles.   Now's the time for you to add your 2 cents using the "Comments" function ... after all, iron sharpens iron!

4 comments:

  1. Thomas, I think the question of superiors & subordinates in the workplace is a very good one. Several cautions come to mine: perceptions of favoritism or special treatment based on participation, or of pressure to comply. I was once accused of the latter, and of spiking a subordinate's performance report because "he failed to measure up to my Christian standards". Fortunately, the accusations came to nothing, but it was a cautionary tale.
    Personally, I'm very careful when dealing with subordinates not to appear to single them out for invitations. Moreover, I try to observe the same protocol in Bible study as I do in the workplace, as I don't want them to confuse Christian brotherhood in Bible study with overfamiliarity at work (this is a special problem in the military).
    On the other hand, I personally love workplace Bible study (see my post on "Andrea: Jesus at Work" for one of my favorite stories about this.

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  2. Thomas, I'm a friend of the Jailer and I've hosted small studies at an "agency" in Texas. Search your heart and listen carefully to God - he will always surprise you with the type of study He will lead through you. As for how to start, it usually begins quietly with two or three people who meet during a lunch break and talk about the Bible and pray for each other in an unused office space. Then God does the rest while we watch and pray! In other words, I've never had to send out an e-mail or hang a sign - the believers took care of marketing the Bible Study by word-of-mouth as the Holy Spirit gave them courage.

    And please pray for me as well - I am picking up the pieces of my life and trying desperately to remain holy after falling into sin and while watching the effects of sin on my family. I will be restored and will lead people to Christ again!

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  3. G-man, you and your family are constantly in my prayers. He who began a good work in you will see it through until the day of Christ Jesus, my friend. PJ

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  4. Thomas,
    You mentioned that you know of a "few" believers in the workplace...have you brought up the idea with them? What is their reaction?
    I have often noticed that when I bring up a study or time together with one of these believers over lunch or a coffee, they willingly want to help...and usually with just a couple or three, others start to take notice. When you have your "cell" formed up, and are praying about it--the door will open for the opportunity to bring the "seekers" on board.
    Maybe it comes from the old adage "strength in numbers" (or, egads, "misery loves company") but I've found that when I can start with a core, the rest builds from there.
    My thoughts.
    Patrick

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