I got invited to a Zondervan authors dinner tonight and in the process got to connect with Randy Frazee. Randy is an author, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church and a friend of mine. As we were catching up he tells me, "Oh yeah, did you know that Willow Creek is using The BIG IDEA process?" He continues, "The same week I got your manuscript (Randy did an endorsement for The BIG IDEA) I started passing it around to our team and we have implemented it." I have to admit that I wanted to say, "you mean The BIG IDEA we wrote?" Kind of cool to think that Willow is now getting on board with The BIG IDEA. The last thing Randy told me was that Willow started implementing the BIG IDEA with their current series calledFuel that focuses on the book of James. And it looks like they are doing it in a big way! Click HERE to take a look at how they have one BIG IDEA for adults, students and kids and also their Spanish speaking ministry. Wow, it sounds like us at CCC! Pretty cool to see the word is getting out and people are putting this to use.
Without a doubt life change is most likely to occur within the context of community. Giving people a chance to sit in a circle with others on a similar spiritual journey to interact on the content of our weekend celebration services significantly increases the likelihood of people actually applying the topic to their life. Even the most dynamic and interactive celebration services tend to be primarily a didactic experience; we talk, we sing, we dance, they listen, they watch. Small groups by nature are experiential and discussion-oriented and as a result, more likely to foster life change. In addition, because the topic of the discussion guide is directly tied to the topic for our weekend celebration services, every weekend our campus pastors and teaching team have a great opportunity to invite people to explore the topic further in a small group.
# 2 The BIG IDEADiminishes Peoples Fears of Leading a Small Group
One of the greatest challenges in launching new groups and keeping existing groups healthy and growing is identifying and recruiting potential small group leaders.We have found that the most common fears among potential small group leaders are the following:
- “I don’t know enough about the Bible.”
- “I don’t have enough time to be a good leader.”
- “I’ve never thought of myself as a leader.”
The weekend prior to the launch of every BIG IDEA series we publish a small group discussion guide with a small group lesson that parallels each topic (or week) in that BIG IDEA series. Developing these discussion guides and making them available to our leaders significantly reduces their insecurities regarding leading. The Bible verses for discussion are included in the discussion guide, and the lessons require minimal preparation with helpful insights and directions for the leaders.
# 3 The BIG IDEAEliminates the Problem of “What Do We Study Next?”
Small groups tend to get overly focused on the topics or subject matter for their discussions, often at the expense of developing relationships and experiencing genuine biblical community. The relational small group experience can easily slip into more of a classroom teacher/student context. Anyone who has ever been part of a small group has spent way too much time trying to answer the question, “What do we study next?”Following The BIG IDEA minimizes this challenge and offers small groups an easy plan to follow when it comes to topics or subject matter.