By Ken Braddy
Resolutions. Many of us make them at the first of the year as we attempt to invigorate our personal or professional lives.
According to a recent Lifeway Research survey, there are some consistent topics people tend to address with resolutions each year:
- Health (57%)
- Relationship with God (52%)
- Use of time (43%)
- Relationship with a family member (42%)
- Finances (37%)
These aren’t bad areas for resolutions. Many of us will once again make a few of these as we turn the corner into 2020.
But what about your Bible study group?
If you had to make some New Year resolutions, what would you choose to do as a group to breathe some new life into it? On what would you focus your attention?
How would you choose to invigorate your Bible study group?
Whatever you choose to do as a group, make sure you’re making SMART decisions. This is an acrostic which can serve as a guide for making resolutions that are:
- Specific: The goal needs to count.
- Measurable: You need to know if you’re winning or not.
- Attainable: Are your goals reasonable?
- Results-focused: Measure outcomes, not activity.
- Time-sensitive: Set target dates to create a sense of urgency.
With all this in mind, then, let’s think through some goals that would invigorate a Bible study group. We’ll measure the goals against this SMART framework.
Resolution 1: Reach four new people for Bible study by the end of the first quarter.
Is this specific? Yes. Measurable? Yes. Attainable? Hopefully reaching four new people for Bible study is a reasonable goal! Results-focused? Yes.
Time sensitive? Yes—the group will do this by the end of the first 90 days of the new year.
Resolution 2: Engage the group in four service projects.
Is this specific? Yes. Measurable? Yes. Attainable? Yes. Results-focused? Yes. Time sensitive? No. So we should add the phrase “by November 2020,” or some other goal that creates a sense of urgency.
Resolution 3: Launch a new group by summer.
Specific? Yes. Measurable? Yes. Attainable? Should be. Results-focused? Yes—the group is starting another group.
Time-sensitive? Yes—the group has six months to recruit a new group leader, encourage people to attend the new group, and promote the launch to the group and all of its absentee members.
Resolution 4: Establish a friendship with someone who does not regularly attend church.
Is the goal specific? Yes. Measurable? Yes—each member of your group is looking to reach out to one person or family. Attainable? Yes—this goal feels very reasonable. Is it results-focused? Yes. Time sensitive? No.
So we need to go back and add a date by which this should be accomplished so that we generate a sense of urgency.
Resolution 5: Learn a gospel presentation that is simple, memorable, and shareable by February 1.
Is the goal specific? Yes, and clear—learn a gospel presentation. Is it measurable? Yes—you can know when you meet the goal. Attainable? Absolutely! Results-focused? Definitely. Time sensitive? Sure is – by February 1.
This goal meets the SMART goal criteria.
You’ll know best what goals and resolutions to make on behalf of your group. Do it together and come to a consensus about what things you’ll do to resolve to do in the new year.
Any of these, or a combination of these, can invigorate people and the group itself.
Here are a few other resolutions you may want to consider as you think through your options:
- Establish a regular fellowship each month.
- Serve outside the church in an ongoing ministry in the community, such as at a crisis pregnancy center, clothes closet, food pantry, etc.
- Contact every person on your group’s ministry list, inviting them to future Bible studies, and checking in on absentees you haven’t seen in a while.
- Share the gospel with a specific number of people each quarter, month, or week.
- Involve a percentage of your group members in ministry to the preschoolers, children, and students in your church – serve on campus.
Let your imagination loose. Get input. Make SMART resolutions this year. You’ll be glad you did.
KEN BRADDY (@kenbraddy) is the director of Sunday School at Lifeway and disciples a group of adults at his church in Shelbyville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including Breathing Life Into Sunday School. He blogs regularly about Sunday school and groups at kenbraddy.com.