Should Your Small Group Walk on Water?

Posted by Jo Pountney  ·  Be the first to comment

Small Group resources have evolved - now providing multiple formats, interactive DVDs and online special features.  So like the title of one of the bestselling studies suggests should your group' get Out of the Boat, walk on water', and add a new dimension to your meetings?

Being able to invite a well known speaker into your living room is a great opportunity to add a new dimension to your Small Group study. For me it's been a real mix of positive and negative experiences that all began with John Ortberg's If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat DVD.  Hopefully my experiences will help you avoid some of the problems I've encountered in the past and help you decide if a DVD study is right for your small group.

Practical Issues

Before you decide to try a DVD small group study there are a few practical issues that may seem obvious - but might get overlooked:  

  1. Where do you meet? - If you currently meet around a dining table or in a room that doesn't have a TV and DVD player, is choosing a DVD the best thing for your group?  Can you access the things you need and does everyone know how to work the equipment?  I've been in groups were the first ten minutes have been taken just getting things set up.
  2. How much time do you have? - Each DVD has varying session times. It's important to work out if your small group meets for enough time to watch the clip and discuss the study questions.  The DVD clip might only add extra 10 minutes, but it's important not to cut the time you spend on the actual study conversations just to accommodate the DVD.  After all those conversations are the key to the small group experience.
  3. How many sessions? - As with running time, the number of sessions can vary with each DVD.  If you know you only have 6 weeks to complete the study then using one with 5 sessions might be ideal.  This allows for an extra week if one of the studies brings up issues that you want to discuss over 2 weeks - or if you want to have a final summary week to discuss the overall course.

    If You Want to Walk on Water Small Group DVD
    Small Group DVD

Popular Teachers

Choosing the DVD is based on the preferences of your group and the issues you want to explore. 

Here's a brief summary of some of the speakers and their style and content:

  • John Ortberg - Senior Pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Northern California.  Best known for down to earth, practical teaching as seen in his bestseller 'If You Want to Walk on Water'.  John's DVDs do have an American flavour as you'd expect, but his teaching translates really well for a UK audience.  
  • Jeff Lucas - British born Bible teacher, Jeff now lives in Colorado and is teaching pastor at Timberline Church.  Best known for his ability to bring Bible truths to everyday life situations - with a solid dose of humour, his DVDs are produced by CWR and often feature British locations.
  • J John - This creative British speaker lives in Chorleywood, London.  His passionate yet accessible style has endeared him to congregations around the globe. His Just 10 series is newly revised and adapted for small group use.
  • Philip Yancey - Living in the foothills of Colorado, Philip's books consistently top bestseller lists.  His DVDs and books, although influenced by a USA environment are not exclsive to a US audience, they often feature Yancey outdoors,  making them a great choice for anyone who likes walking or hiking.  The subject matter often explores parts of the Christian life.
  • Tim Keller - Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan, Keller's DVDs are representative of his teaching, exploring faith in urban culture.  Often referred to as the 'thinking man's bible teacher' Tim's teaching appeals to young professionals and those wanting to look deeper into the relationship between their faith and today's culture.
  • Andy Stanley - Pastor of Northpoint Church, Atlanta. Known for his teaching on leadership in church and business environments, Andy's conversational accessible style of simplifying the message is clearly evident on his DVDs. 

Participants guide

Most DVD courses have a participant's guide that is split into the same number of sessions as the DVD. Produced to enhance the course they provide study questions and context as you move from week to week.  Most people I’ve been in groups with have preferred to have their own copy of the guide. This allows them to make notes and use it during private study time at home. Personal copies can also be useful if someone misses a session.

Does everyone need the book?

Many of the DVD studies available have been birthed from a successful book. But do you really need this alongside the participants guide?  

In truth it really depends on how in depth you want to take your study.  With most of the courses I’ve used you don't need to have read the book to follow the weekly sessions.  But it can help you obtain a deeper understanding of the author's heart behind the subject. 

DVD studies can be a great experience for small groups - but they're not right for everyone.  Hopefully you now have a bit more information to help your group decide if they’re for you.  After all  “If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat” is all about being willing to give something a try!

3rd October

October 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Jo Pountney

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