Growth Groups in Large Congregations
One area of Bible study that has expanded in recent years is small group Bible studies, sometimes called Growth Groups. Although this approach may not work in every situation, it may be quite helpful in some. To see what this program looks like, we will have pastors from differently sized congregations tell how they conduct Growth Groups at their churches. Examples of studies they use in their groups will also be provided. This month, Pastor Scott Oelhafen of Trinity Lutheran Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin, gives us a look at his congregation’s Growth Groups program.



Pastor Scott Oelhafen serves as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin and oversees the church’s Growth Groups program.
They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.  Acts 5:42
Adult Education: Additum
Building the Body of Christ

The main article on Growth Groups noted that the groups helped assimilate new members into the congregation. An essay by Pastor Charles Westra called “Building the Body of Christ” can be helpful in thinking through how a congregation can plan to make new members feel welcome and integrated.

The essay breaks down the assimilation process into four major areas of discussion:
  1. Identifying the problem and the challenge
  2. Pre-membership assimilation
  3. The reception of the new member
  4. Ongoing efforts to assimilate

Learn more about these four stages in the essay below.

Teaching Toolbox
Communal Reading of Scripture

Looking for a way to get a small group together to read a few chapters of the Bible each week? Through a website called Just Show Up, people are encouraged to come together each week to read chapters of the Bible using a dramatized version on a CD, an mp3, or an app. All participants have to do is show up and follow along. Fellowship time could follow after the readings. This Bible study format might be an addition to a congregation’s Bible study offerings.

The app “Public Reading of Scripture” (available in the App Store for mobile phones or tablets) could be used for this program. The readings for purchase in the app use the New King James Version.

Curriculum Connection
Training Christians for Ministry

If you are hoping to add a more in-depth course on church life to your Bible study offerings, the Training Christians for Ministry curriculum kit is for you. Five courses are included on the CD, each instructing congregational leaders on the reasons and methods for serving the mission of the church. Videos for each of the courses are provided in the kit. 

Order the Complete Kit
Teaching Tip
Questions With Multiple Right Answers

To tap into people’s experiences and to encourage them to more thoroughly explore a text and how it applies, ask questions that have multiple correct answers.

For example, “Which verses from 1 Corinthians chapter 15 give you the most encouragement?” will generate more discussion than “What does 1 Corinthians 15:58 say?”
  Teach the Word  is a collaboration of Northwestern Publishing House,
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and WELS Discipleship.