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I'll admit, I'm one of the angry ones. It's not that I don't get the point of what they're trying to say(I'm sure many immature Christians teach out of ignorance sometimes), but it can be done right. In my church, pastors will disciple the small group leaders(including myself), and in turn, we will lead the groups. I believe small groups are to a Christian's growth(especially in large congregations where there aren't many pastors).

Anyway, the Bible is not just some great mystery that only PhD's can decipher. Yes, it has incredible mysteries, ones which I want to discover, but the Gospel is simple. We can repent, be forgiven and born again because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Christian life is more than listening to a Sunday sermon. We need friends and peers to grow with us and encourage us through our real-life problems.

I can't tell you how important our small group meetings were to some of my friends. I honestly don't know where they'd be if we weren't there, in that type of setting, to all minister to each other.


Designed to be discussion starters for a small group discussion? :)


Don't get me started. Before I knew anything about anything, the worst Bible study I ever went to, we read 5 verses in Romans, not all in a row. Instead after each verse we went around the room pontificating on what that verse meant to us. The leader wrote down all of the comments on the blackboard. Then the leader went through all the comments and tried to draw out unifying themes that we could all agree to.

I guess just reading it would have been too simple. It was like we took an elaborate feast and several fine wines and mashed them all together into pig slop.

In contrast, if a pastor every again pulls out a video cassette to kick off a Bible study, I'm going to have to fight off the urge to stone the tv to death. Seriously, I didn't come to church to watch a movie. My couch is more comfortable than metal folding chairs.

Glenn E. Chatfield

Lay people aren't necessarily biblically ignorant. It has to do with spiritual maturity whether you are a seminary grad or a high-school grad. As a lay person who has studied the scriptures for 35 years, and apologetics for 30 years, I can confidently say that I would have less aberrations/heresy in my group than many cleric-led groups who follow emergent teachings, permit false teachers' works in their church library or Bible studies (e.g. Beth Moore - most pastor's wives I've met love her), pastors whose assemblies are rife with Bill Gothard home-schoolers, Ezzos, seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, 12-step programs, etc, etc, etc.


What the heck do you think the original churches were? Where did they meet? Scripture says the Spirit will be our teacher and lead us into all truth, not "Large Group Bible Studies," etc. The "Lay Led" description shows disdain for people without "formal" education. It does nothing but divide the Body of Christ with such titles and designations. Call no one Master, Teacher, or Rabbi. There is equal room for error at any level of education and leading.


The original churches where led by those that had direct contact with the Word! Three solid years in fact. The leaders were also directly influenced by the Holy Spirit to write the scriptures. Small doesn't necessarily mean 'small group'.

Having lay led study groups is not necessarily a bad thing if they are supervised by a pastor. If they are led by someone with a large amount of training and has the confidence of a solid pastor. However, the small groups currently in fashion are often not supervised by a pastor or even worse, are done in lieu of a pastor with conscious choice. Having a pow wow on 'what does the Bible verse mean to you' is worse than not studying the Bible at all. It leads to what the posters mention - inane discussions born of ignorance and even worse heresy.


Hmm... I do attend a small group Bible study. Not just for "learning" or "growing" spiritually, but also to be a light in that group. Ironically, the group that I am in is led by the "pastor" but a lot of what he says is not scriptural. But I do speak out. And when they start talking about what they think the verses mean to them, I jump in and remind them about the context, and point to scripture.

So... yes, there is danger in how small groups are led, and what happens in them. At the same time, I think we can take advantage of the small groups and speak out truth in them, and challenge the people to read the scriptures in their context.

Pr. Martin Diers

@wesley: In the early church, the teachers were called. They were not "small study group lay leaders". They were variously referred to in the New Testament as elders, deacons, overseers, etc. There is no reason to presume otherwise, especially because Paul expressly says in Romans: "How shall they believe in whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher, and how shall they preach unless they are sent?" Further, he says in 1 Cor., that God have "some Apostles, some Evangelists, some Pastors and Teachers ..." The fact that they met in the homes at first, does not in any way change this. A church building has nothing to do with whether or not one is a church, and has a pastor.

Why would we presume that in the early church, those who taught were NOT called into the ministry, when Paul explicitly states the necessity for a call as essential to the act of teaching in the church? If one is to make assertions about what did or did not go in the early church, there are sources that must be consulted before such assertions are made. The first is the New Testament itself. The second is the writings of the early accounts of the church from contemporaneous church fathers, historians, and governmental officials.

Rev. Z. Bartels

beon, the "fine wine and gourmet food to pig slop" analogy is brilliant. Consider it stolen. :)


This is the current situation that I am in. Here in Montana, there are few churches preaching expositionally, and far fewer preaching the Gospel. I do not have one near where I live that is for sure. I am trying to understand the Gospel more myself, and have been convicted of my desperate need of the Grace of the Father.

I listen and read MacArthur daily, and Spurgeon when I get a book with his sermons. I have had some discussions with the pastor, and I think as a result of these discussions, I have been asked to lead a small group. I feel that I am unqualified to give a real good solid Gospel message, but I am wanting to grow, and am willing to read and study Calvin, Luther and others in preparation of meetings. I can't at this time afford to purchase a lot of these books, but I don't know what else to do really.

The messages at church are moralistic, and really lacking the exhortion to depend on the Holy Spirit to bring the moral life out of us, such being a work of God, not a work of man.

What do you advise?



If I were you, I would jump at a chance to lead the group. Let God do the work for you.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.(Is55)

At the beginning be upfront about your concerns about lay-led studies. Then begin the studies by reading the text aloud. This works particularly good with epistles. Paul opens nearly all his epistles with the gospel, and subsequently injects reminders throughout.

Don't be afraid to take on something heady like Romans. After you read it aloud, go through it slowly and highlight individual passages, reminding everyone that its the word of God and its really true. Explain how different section together make cohesive arguments, but how they also are true on their own.

Paul uses plenty of old testament quotes so don't forget to dig them up and present them as the context for Paul's arguments.

The God's word do the legwork. If your looking for other material, I find myself quoting these books against the modern heresies in the church more than any others: Romans, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, John, 1 John, Ephesians, Isaiah, Psalms, Revelation, Titus, Jude, and Acts.

Rev Z,
I wouldn't be surprised if I stole it first, but in the cause of cultural relevance, I'd caution you against the word "gourmet". In most of the U.S., the word "gourmet" no longer carries a positive connotation, being almost exclusively reserved for pet food and other victuals that are equally unappealing. :) Go on and try it, it's gourmet! :)

Sarah S. Chicken

My husband and I have been criticized in different small groups for asking if we could just read the Bible aloud and not have so much sharing time.

The response is usually that we need some "study" book to go along with it, Max Lucado or a video, to be able to help us understand the Bible.

We have started our own small group and told the attendees we would be reading from the word of God and we would not be having "what this means to me" time.

It has finally succeeded. We still have a couple people who try to convince us to do a "really awesome" video series, but most of us are happy with the refreshing and life-changing word of the Lord.

NJ Sykes

When some people in the group think 'The Shack' and 'The Message' are appropriate literature for Christians, what's a blood-bought-Bible-believer to do?
Introducing heretical literature is incredibly offensive, yet I'm considered the rude one for voicing my valid concerns that have Biblical support. When making the case for something, are people standing upon the authority of God's Word, or are they swimming in a vaccuous ocean of 'what feels right to them'?
I want to love these people and shine the light Christ gave me, but where do you draw the line and stop participating? I realise I can't be all things to all people, but if it weren't for me nobody would say anything and I'm afraid it would deteriorate into more treacherous territory.
May God mercifully diminish the fog and make clear the path.

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