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Small groups have been part of church life for years  Lately, churches have seen the benefit of same-sex groups; brothers doing life with brothers in the faith for example.  If you are a leader of a men’s group, or belong to one and want to suggest studies for your group, this post is for you.

On this website, you will notice you can select studies based on categories.  Click on the Top 100 studies link and select “Men” under the “Filter by Audience” link on the right side of the page.  I want to highlight three of those DVD studies today.

The first study is “Seven Questions that Rattle in the Minds of Most Men.”   This seven-session study features all of life’s most pertinent questions as they apply to men, such as “who am I?” and “why am I here?”.  Led by John Woodall, North Point Church’s Director of Men’s Groups, this study is guaranteed to foster great discussion and spiritual growth.

The second, a six-session study, is John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul”.  It focuses on the hurts that build in men’s hearts over past wounds and the effects this has on their faith and life.  The study intends to examine and eradicate those wounds and help men live life by God’s design for them. 

The final study is “Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most” featuring Craig Groeschel.   This five-session study presents the story of Samson, a warrior with a weakness.   Your group will be studying the battles that matter and God’s design for how to fight them with the weapons He provides of faith, prayer, and God’s Word.

All three of these studies are designed to help men dispute the lies the world tells about who they are and how they were designed and offer God’s truth and powerful strength for their lives.

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Loopholes Vs. Love

We are looking for loopholes and Jesus is looking for love.  

There are so many Bible stories about humans looking for a way around God.  This is not surprising when the world often teaches us to find the easy way.

Think of the man who asked Jesus how many times we should forgive, coming up with a number he deemed perfectly reasonable:  7.   Jesus blew that out of the water by telling him that we should forgive 70 X 7.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

Martha complained to Jesus about Mary not helping with the hospitality work.   But Jesus told Martha that Mary chose the better thing altogether – basically that the work would always be there, but He would not. (Luke 10:40-42)

The prodigal son had an angle, too.  He thought he would ask to be a slave when he wanted to return to the comfort of His father’s house.  He had no clue that God had something bigger in mind through his father:  total and complete love and forgiveness. (Luke 15:11-32)

We look for loopholes, too when it comes to studying God’s word.    We say we have responsibilities and are busy or tired.  Yet we have endless time for quick and easy distractions, faces glued to our screens.

God wants us to receive His love, love Him, and spread His love to the people in our lives.  It isn’t always easy to do that.  But, if we look for angles and workarounds to doing His will, we are the ones who will not live life to the fullest or receive all that God wants for us. (John 10:10)

If this idea of loopholes instead of loving speaks to you, here are a few great studies to focus on loving God.

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In the Middle of the Story

There is beauty in sharing your story, by faith, before it is resolved.  It tells others, “this has not been resolved, but I trust God.”    I learned this in a study by Lori Povich called “40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith”, so I wanted to recommend small group studies about it.  

Start off this plan with “In the Meantime” led by Andy Stanley.  As one Amazon reviewer said, “This study puts trials we all face into the right perspective, reminding us to focus on the character of God and what He is doing through our circumstances, not on the circumstances themselves or on our own perspective”.

In the middle of the story we need to to know who God is and why it is good to wait on Him. We need to have the kind of strong faith that is built in the middle. We need hope. which comes from a long view of our lives (an eternal one in fact).

For a stronger relationship with God in unsettled times, check out, “The Power of Knowing God” by Tony Evans.  It is a powerful look at real intimacy, relationship and knowledge of God.  You’ll see that the middle of your story is part of His bigger one, when you keep your eyes on Him.

Studies to build your faith include “Everything is Possible with God” by Rick Warren and “Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith” by Andy Stanley.  These are both on this website and would be excellent to study back to back.

Pete Wilson’s “Let Hope In,” would great to close out a series on living in the middle.  As it says in the description for this study:  “Embrace the freedom of being okay with not being okay.” That attitude is a hallmark of life in the middle of the story.

Doing these studies as part of a series, under the topic of living in the middle of your story, will take about half year.   As the pandemic enters its second year with more unknowns, even as there is increasing hope, many of us feel unresolved.  Knowing God, having faith in Him and hoping in Him can be a beautiful part of your walk with God,  before your story is resolved.

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Following Jesus in the New Testament

Janice and I have been meeting in a weekly SKYPE-enabled bible study for almost two years. Our first meeting was in July, 2019. By the end of 2021 we hope to be near the halfway point of the 27 books of the New Testament. As we approach the two year anniversary of our virtual bible study, we wanted to review the studies we have done.

We decided in the beginning to work through the books of the New Testament so we could look back and know we had covered some ground in getting to know Jesus. When we approach the end of a study, we do ask God to guide us to the next one and pray over the one to do next. We sought studies that had us in the Word of God at least three to five days a week. This required that they have study guides that had us engaging with verses and asking ourselves personal faith maturing questions, as well as offering us ideas for application in daily living. The Apostle Paul wrote many of the books of the New Testament. We learned, after doing a couple of them in a row, to put space between each bible study that involved a book written by him, because he repeats many of his points and we wanted to come at them fresh each time we read them.

We studied (in New Testament book order, not the order we went through them, with links to video introductions):
· The Book of Mark with Francis Chan
· Determined: The Book of Luke with Heather Dixon
· The Book of 1 Corinthians with Jennie Allen
· Galatians: Accepted and Free with Jada Edwards
· The Book of Ephesians with J.D. Greear
· The Book of Philippians with Jo Saxton
· The Book of Colossians with Louie Giglio
· The Book of James with Francis Chan
· The Books of 1, 2 & 3 John with Tony Evans
· Jude with Jackie Perry Hill
· The Book of Titus with Chip Ingram (current study)

Our top five favorites from the studies we’ve done so far (and why) are:

#1) Jude by Jackie Hill Perry

We learned the most from this study. We remain amazed at how much content she gleaned from this smallest of the Gospel books. She does not hold back in her sermons, but puts sharing His truth over our comfort. Painful though this felt sometimes, it was also gratifying to know it meant our personal growth. More than that, she taught us to break down our bible reading to look for similar patterns in other books of the bible. Great discussions came out of this study. A study excels for us when it sends us searching for answers between weeks and this study did that for us weekly.

#2) Galatians: Accepted and Free by Jada Edwards

This study was a close second for us. The study guide was simple, but the questions made us look closely at our walk with God. And every week, Jada emphasized how much we are loved by God and how much that should direct our steps and our attitude. The videos are very engaging because they are filmed to make it feel as though we were sitting at home with her talking about Jesus. Jada emotes a sense of walking alongside her study companions with empathy and love, which comes across in the study guide, too.

#3) The Book of 1 Corinthians by Jennie Allen

This was our first study. Jennie Allen is a very engaging teacher, committed to helping her listeners see how much better life is in the face of difficulty, if we live for God. We loved that the filming of the videos had Jennie walking in the footsteps of Paul in southern Greece. She did a great job of applying biblical principles to everyday life. The study guide was a great mix of historical context and biblical wisdom. This is the first we did of the studies written especially for and we highly recommend the format as a great way to do bible study.

#4) The Books of 123 John by Tony Evans

We loved this study so much, we can not wait for Pastor Evans to finish writing and recording the studies for the book of John. He does an amazing job of helping his listeners remember his teaching through analogies and word pictures. The study guide is similar to all guides with homework that can be spread out over five days, ending with ways to apply what you learn. This study does not shy from asking convicting questions to help us grow in our walk with God, which is another reason it is memorable and impactful. This study is taught with the conviction of a wise, caring, but determined elder that offers a lot of grace, but doesn’t accept excuses when he knows that God offers us better than we can offer ourselves. Please note that the videos and study guide are available only through Right Now Media.

#5) The Book of James by Francis Chan

Be prepared to see your attitude and behavior change as you do this study. That is the way it was for us. Francis Chan is a passionate teacher of God’s word as it was spoken and written, not as we wish to hear it. This study is about true Christian living – not seeking only to be happy, but to be holy. The study guide questions walk the reader through plenty of context, but also ask meaningful questions like, “If you made this the “goal of your life,” to grow in holiness even if it meant suffering, how would that change your life?” We finished this study feeling like we had been with a true spiritual mentor teaching us truth about faith. Please note that the videos and study guide are available only through Right Now Media.

The two studies we felt we learned the least from were “Determined” ( based on the Gospel of Luke) by Heather Dixon and The Book of Philippians by Jo Saxton. These were obviously well-researched bible studies. So why didn’t they work for us? We did not feel as though we connected with either of the teachers. There did not seem to us to be a cohesion to the lessons or an overarching theme we could identify. We also agreed that the videos seemed to be more fluff than helpful teaching.

We can’t know how a study will go until we get into it. And when they are less than engaging we go to God and ask Him to help us learn anyway, when it is a struggle to do so from the teaching style or content. Even though each study did not bring us joy and may not have been stellar in presentation, teaching ability or content, we are excited to be walking on the path that Jesus walked.

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Christian Leadership Studies

Small group ministry is about making disciples.  Any member of a group may decide to birth a group of their own one day.  The Word of God spreads further and further through those disciples.

One of the characteristics of a disciple is their willingness to lead others to Christ.   In that spirit, I want to highlight some of the Small Group Advisor bible studies with messages for leaders.  Doing these would be great for a brand-new small group to get off to a strong start.   For a seasoned group, any one of these would be great refreshers.  

A great starting point is, “All In” by Mark Batterson. Strong small groups start with a strong relationship with Jesus.    As Mark states in the study, if Jesus is not Lord of all, then Jesus is not Lord at all.   Christian leadership begins with giving Jesus lordship over everything. This study will walk the group through exactly how to do that.

“Too Busy Not to Pray” by BIll Hybels, is an excellent study, because making disciples is filled with troubles if we don’t invite God into the process. This study is an excellent look at the power we gain when we make time for prayer.  

“Community” by Andy Stanley, a rich look at what small groups and life in community can be through Christ.  This study is all about how small groups bring intentionality to relationships that honor God while He uses them to make us more like Him. 

“The Case for a Creator,” “The Case for Christ”, or “The Case for Faith”, teaches how to strengthen our evangelism.  These Lee Strobel studies are foundational to being able to speak with confidence about Christianity, another key characteristic of Christian leadership. 

There are many good resources on the Host Resource page of Small Group Advisor that are suitable for leaders and leaders in training.  The time you put into reviewing these, either as a leader or as a small group, will yield endless benefits for your discipleship journey.

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Doing God’s Will in a World Gone Wild

Have you heard small group members talk about discord they’ve experienced?  “If I have to hear one more negative comment about (insert name of political candidate they admire) I am going to explode!”  Or, “I have the worst neighbors!  They always (insert an unpleasant behavior).”  And there is always, “I’m going to give up all my social media; people’s posts have become so toxic!”

The madness of the year 2020 did not die in the year 2021, but Christians are called to look at eternity, not current circumstances.  Are you looking for studies to help you with all the divisiveness in our world – with a view to eternity in mind?   What about studies that teach how to show the love of Christ to family, friends or neighbors who are divisive in their politics or inflammatory in their behavior or comments?   Or studies to teach you how to do God’s will in this wild world in which we are living?   Look no further than these great studies, all found on Small Group Advisor.

Speaking the truth in love

“Keep it Shut” by Karen Ehman is a study about how our mouths can contribute to either discord or love.  Speaking the truth in love and dealing with our anger verbally are just two of the important areas covered in this six session study.

Connecting with others through love

“You Make me Crazy” by Rick Warren is all about loving those we find unloveable.  As it says about the study:  “We all have relationships that drive us crazy. Whether it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, sibling, parent, co-worker, or crazy relative you see once a year at Thanksgiving, a crazy-maker can really make life difficult.  This six session video study from Rick Warren will help bring sanity to your relationships so you can do more than just coexist. Learn how to connect with the crazy-makers in your life through these six sessions.”

Living and showing love

“Start Becoming a Good Samaritan” by Michael Seaton is a six lesson course on changing the world through the kind of love shown by the Good Samaritan – love that acts. How can we not be excited about this study from the description alone, as a study “that will help your group look at issues like poverty, social injustice, the pandemic, the environment (all the hot buttons for divisiveness in our communities) and teach you how to make an impact today.”

Two Not On This Site  

Not listed on this website, but definitely on point for these divisive times are the two Bob Goff studies, “Love Does” and “Everybody, Always”.  Both of these studies teach about why we love and how we begin putting love into action.

 Let’s make 2021 a year with small groups all over the globe studying ways to shine the light of Jesus’ love into the darkness of discord and division.

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The Spiritual Growth Triad: Giving, Praying, Fasting

We are about halfway through the 2021 Lenten season, so while it may be too late to start a small group study about Lent this year, there are three elements of Lent that are worth studying any time, all year. They are:

* giving, the way we manifest the love of God to others;

* prayer, the way we connect with God;

* fasting, what we give up to draw closer to God. 

As you consider which topic and series to study, start by reading Matthew 6:2-3 which provides Jesus’ direction on giving, Matthew 6:5-13 regarding praying, and Matthew 6:16-18 on fasting, then reviewing the following suggested studies.

The premiere study on giving is Randy Alcorn’s four-session video “The Treasure Principle”.  Covering the treasure, the spirituality, the sacrifice, and the joy of giving, each session ends with a practical “live it out” guide for experiencing what you learn. Throughout the study, participants are encouraged to interact with God over the issues surrounding giving.  This is not a video study. Participants would be asked to do the readings between sessions and review the discussion questions together at the meetings. The study guide and optional companion book can be found here:

If you search the topic of “prayer” on the Small Group Advisor website, you will find many to choose from.  I want to highlight “Prayer – Does it Make Any Difference” by Phillip Yancey.  You will not find the soft-spoken Yancey to be the most exhilarating teacher, but the material is essential if you want to understand the most important aspect of our relationship with God – our communication with Him through prayer.  Yancey answers the most common questions about prayer and blesses participants with concrete answers and applicable reasons for and ways to pray.

The term fasting means to “abstain from” which covers a lot more ground than food and drink.  It is also about getting yourself uncluttered so there’s room for the best that God has for you.  It may mean giving up strongholds, in which case  “Goliath Must Fall”  by Louie Giglio would be a great study.  It could mean turning away from your discontentedness to seek the contentment only God can bring, so you’ll want to study “Satisfied” by Jeff Manion.  Maybe a study on abstaining from the need to control is in order.  Karen Ehman’s “Let. It. Go.” is a perfect fit.  Her six week studio teaches participants to put God in the driver’s seat and the benefits of surrender.

Any of these studies will serve to deepen your spiritual growth, so consider doing them in a row, over several months, to truly bring the spirit of Lent to your small group experience.