How Five Minutes Can Spur Real Life Change

If our goal is really to make disciples, we’ve got to take a serious look at how we lead our Small Groups! I want to propose how changing less than five minutes of your group’s weekly schedule can spur real life change in the members of your group.

Here’s a quote from one of our groups that shows you an example:

“Last week you challenged us to find a Bible reading plan and to enlist a partner to read the same plan and discuss with them each week what God is teaching us. Well, honestly, I wasn’t on a plan already, and the plan you told us about sounded good. So, I started on that plan this week and asked my son to join me.”

Here’s how it works. After studying the Word, the leader presents a very specific challenge in which he or she actually expects some action (obedience to God’s Word). Then, the following week, the leader asks for a progress report using soft accountability. I call it “soft accountability” because participation is voluntary. It would involve restating the challenge, then saying something like this, “Would anyone be willing to share what you did in response to the challenge from last week?” 

Soft accountability is a great benefit, even to those who don’t participate, because they see people making life changes in response to God’s Word. As a result, the words of those who speak challenge those who only observe the process. Most Small Group Leaders know the importance of application, but don’t know how to implement it in a meaningful way.

There are five critical components of every small group meeting:

  • Fellowship
  • Prayer
  • Accountability from the prior week (2-3 minutes)
  • Bible study
  • Obedience Challenge (1-2 minutes)

The two shortest parts, accountability and challenge, take just a few minutes but yield the most life change. Including these components maximizes the impact of the Bible study.

Leaders of obedience-based small groups must possess: 

  • Vision: Small group leaders must believe that making disciples is the end goal.
  • Willingness: The leader can’t challenge people to do what he or she is unwilling to do. 
  • Discipline: The leader must be disciplined to have time for including a challenge, which often means omitting some Bible study content.
  • Conviction: The leader must be confident and consistent in the process, even when people don’t respond.

Sometimes it’s difficult to give a challenge for the spiritually mature when some people in the group aren’t ready for it. For instance, if the challenge for the week is to start a spiritual conversation with a friend, some of our group members may get weak-kneed at the thought. An optional challenge might be to identify three people who need Christ and pray for them daily for a month. 

Now, I want to give you a challenge. If you lead a group, the next time you prepare the lesson, identify one challenge from the biblical content that would help people in your group take their next spiritual step. Then frame it up into a clear and measurable challenge that you’ll include at the end of your study, even if you must omit something else to end on time. Then, the following week, ask the group, “What did you do with that?” 

Expect obedience. Don’t just teach a lesson. Allow God to change lives.