Every tradie needs their tools. Good tools make it so much easier to do a job well. Imagine trying to cut wood with a blunt saw that’s been left out in the rain, or snipping electrical wires with a pair of kitchen scissors, or trying to mix concrete in your bathtub. Growth group leaders need good tools too. Our trade is dealing with the Word of God and people, so here’s a few useful tools.
1. A Bible
You can’t do without this one. We’re on about knowing God through his word so, unless you’ve got your own special divine broadband network, you’ll need a Bible! It usually helps if most people are reading from the same translation, so you might want to get a feel for what others in your group are reading. There are many good up-to-date English versions available. Try the New International Version, the English Standard Version, or the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
2. A Study Bible or Reference Bible
These are useful tools for helping you prepare studies. Reference Bibles contain cross-references which assist you in chasing themes around the Bible and discovering Old Testament background to New Testament ideas. Study Bibles go a step further and include commentary on verses and background articles on books of the Bible and selected topics. The ESV Study Bible is probably the most comprehensive around.
BUT, I don’t recommend you use a Study Bible when you lead studies because you don’t want people to think you’ve got the Leaders Version with Complete Cheat Notes. The idea is to learn together from the Bible, not someone’s commentary on the Bible.
3. New Bible Dictionary
A good quality Bible dictionary is an excellent tool for getting background and details on the Scriptures. The New Bible Dictionary contains articles on every book of the Bible, names, places, themes and ideas. If you need to research further, these articles are a good starting point, and refer you to other works.
4. New Bible Commentary
The New Bible Commentary is the companion volume to the dictionary. This is a one volume commentary on every chapter in the Bible. Written by authors who respect the authority of the Bible, it can help you to get a handle on the big picture, or grapple with difficult ideas.
There are a number of good books available that will help you as you develop as a leader. A few are summarised and reviewed on this site. Check out some of these:
5. Spice it up
This is a great book for all growth group leaders. Its strength is in getting people into the Bible in creative ways that help them to deeply engage with God’s word for their lives. The book is strictly a course manual, but there is enough in it to pick up the gist if you can’t access a training course.
6. Growth Groups
The name says it. This is the basic text book for growth group ministry. It breaks down the different aspects of group life and address topics such as Bible study, prayer, developing leaders, outreach, group dynamics and more. Great for all leaders and very helpful for mentors.
7. Leading Better Bible Studies
This book in grounded in the Bible, while being very practical. It draws from theological study and adult education theory, to help leaders to creatively approach Bible study and build good group interaction. Coaches and mentors will also find this an excellent resource.
8. Gospel centered leadership
Growth group leadership is part of a bigger picture of Christian leadership. You can read this book personally, but it may have greater benefit if you discuss it with others, such as your mentor, peer leaders or an apprentice leader in your group.
9. The Trellis and the Vine
It’s too easy become caught up with organisation and structures – even organising growth groups – so that we lose sight of the purpose of meeting. This excellent resource reminds us to keep focused on the ministry of the word, training one another in godliness, and growing in relationship with God.
10. Sticky Church
An inspiring book, containing many encouraging suggestions for organising groups, training leaders and keeping groups at the heart of church life. Sermon-based Bible studies are advocated, with the main purpose of encouraging participation and application in groups.
11. Creating Community
The emphasis of this material is on relationships and creating community and it provides a helpful complement to the Bible input from some of the books above. This is a useful book for pastors or directors of growth group ministries to consider as they evaluate and review the ministry.