The Growth Group Notebook
I’m loving using the Growth Group Notebook. Apart from its design – hardcover, nice textured paper and pleasing font, it really is what it promises to be: a companion for every small group member. Our women’s Bible study groups are using the notebook and here’s the feedback:
Keeping on track
In the first section, you’re encouraged to help the group commit to working together by agreeing to guidelines and setting goals. Leaders find this helpful at the end and beginning of each term to reflect how the group is going and whether adjustments need to be made. But it also helps the group members when reminders are needed. This kind of self-evaluation is vital to keep small groups healthy. Recording goals is a great way of keeping them front and centre through the whole year.
Keep on track also extends out to individual members. Seven times in the year (every 6 weeks), group members get the chance to review how they’re going. The review questions are brilliant because they help us think through what God’s been teaching us, how we’ve grown, our struggles and points of thanksgiving. Knowing that faith without works is dead, we’re also given opportunity to commit to specific action goals about godliness and evangelism.
I love all the end of year celebrations we have with our small groups. But I often struggle to come up with ways of getting the group to think over our time together studying the Bible. And then by the time we start up again in the new year, it’s hard to recall the details of the previous year. The yearly review section is the perfect answer to this dilemma. Not only can you reflect on the year gone by but it ends with ‘Next Year, I want to …’.
Opportunities to pray big and personal prayers are woven throughout the whole Notebook. Without a doubt, just about every Bible study group I know would admit that they struggle when it comes to prayer. Prayer gets squeezed in right at the end, or the prayers become insular and problem centered or it’s hard to get people to pray. The Notebook helps on all fronts. First there’s a section on Who to Pray For – this is great for brainstorming and then continuing to add in a wide range of topics and the group to pray. It’s so satisfying to ending each term knowing that your group has prayed for the world, our nation, our
community, our church, missionaries, Christian ministries and leaders! But it doesn’t end there! The notes sections for group passages and sermons prompt you to pray about what you are reading and learning and reflecting on in the Bible. Recording these prayers has the added bonus that you can review them and see how God has used His powerful word to grow you in Christ. But still there’s much more! Each time you record notes for your group passage, there’s room to record the personal prayer requests of the members of your group. One of the biggest advantages is that you can then use it to fulfill that promise we make at the end of a study “I’ll pray for you during the week.”
In an age of instant gratification and online media which lends itself to skim reading and superficial reflection, recording notes as we study the Bible helps us to slow down and take the time to reflect on what God is saying in His word. The Notebook guides you with headings like ‘What I learned from this study’, and ‘What I need to change’. But thankfully, it’s not all about me. We’re also prompted to look upward and outward with space for recording what we can thank God for and turning our mind to others. I think the final question in the notes section is genius: “Who would benefit from me sharing with them what I’ve learned?’
Relevant resources at your fingertips
I often see resources that I think would help our small group to grow as disciples of Jesus. But getting them into the hands and heads of individual members is a constant battle when inboxes overflow and we’re competing with FB notifications. Even here, the Notebook is a valuable tool. The list of valuable resources means that you can point members to trusted material they can go to when they need help to dig deeper or they need ministry tools.
Appendices 1-3 are short, helpful articles on how to be a small group member, praying in small groups and praying out loud. These are perfect training papers to read with your leaders. In fact that reminds me of a funny story: at our leader’s weekend away, I had just bought the Notebook and was introducing the leaders to it. When I got to this section I told them that Tony Payne and Colin Marshall wrote the first 2 articles and then went searching for the 3rd and didn’t know what to say when I saw who wrote it. But you’ll have to go and buy the book to find out!
You might be thinking this is a great idea for next year … but it’s not too late to start using it: the notes sections aren’t dated and they cover 52 weeks so you
can start right now! Plus, we’re inching towards July and mid-year is an ideal time to re-energise a small group.
Fantastic resource Matthias Media! I hope it will be an annual publication and that the 2018 version will be out in time for Christmas presents. But can you make the hardcover red next time or even emerald green? Green’s my second favourite colour!
Writer | Carmelina Read loves serving at Chatswood Presy with her family. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and karate.