Last night, I was talking to a friend about the new small group she’s leading as a college ministry volunteer this semester. As it turns out, she’ll be going through a Tim Keller study on Galatians with a bunch of gals.
But the interesting thing is that their college minister is also walking through Galatians in their Large Group Meetings. So their group is doubling up!
Obviously, I geek out a little bit about college ministry ideas, and any little “tweak” to standard practice always gets me thinking. In this case, I recognize that ministries commonly use small groups simply to go deeper on the large group topic (instead of working through completely different topics). There are lots of campus ministries that take that course. (And if you haven’t allowed your ministry to consider that method, you should. It’s not always what’s needed, but it’s a very useful arrow in your quiver.)
But with my friend’s college ministry, they’re clearly offering a chance for these students to hear two different viewpoints on the same “material” (in this case, the Book of Galatians). This isn’t a study guide or a bunch of questions prepared by the college minister to dovetail with his weekly message. It’s a whole separate chance to dive into Galatians, aided by a whole other teacher.
So like the more common method, students should get the value of going deeper, since they get the chance to discuss, ask questions, have a little more time, etc.. But by using material from an entirely different source, they also get the chance to learn from a multitude of counselors. They get a different spin on the subject matter, they get to wrestle over areas of difference, and they gain from the strengths and focuses of the different teachers. They’ll probably also get a heaping helping of redundancy, but it’ll be redundancy that doesn’t feel like it. And redundancy is a great way to help things stick.
I think this method is available for both series straight from books of the Bible as well as topics. I can easily imagine a college ministry teaching on a topic (“Service,” “Leadership,” etc.), with fully prepared messages, while also having small groups go through Hole in the Gospel or Spiritual Leadership. You’d want to make sure the speakers aren’t just getting all their ideas from the same book.
I love the idea of complementary counsel, and this would be one cool way to provide that to your students.