Video Bible Studies for Youth Groups

Today’s teens can find their value in how many followers they have on social media instead of in God. They can focus on having influence rather than on what’s influencing them.  

At RightNow Media, our goal is to provide churches and student ministries with access to a library curated with the latest teaching for youth Bible studies from premier teachers. Including series like Not A Fan: Teen Edition by Kyle Idleman and a number of RightNow Media Originals, we have thousands of options for your Bible study. Here are five video Bible studies that are perfect for your youth group or student ministry—plus check out our youth Bible study roadmap to make curriculum planning a breeze.

5 VIDEO BIBLE STUDIES FOR YOUTH GROUPS

Finding Truth with Francis Chan

Christians today face all kinds of challenges when it comes to understanding who they are and what they’re meant to do. There’s no shortage of options that claim to offer “truth.” If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves chasing after popular opinion all the while neglecting the unchanging truth found in Scripture. In this four-session youth Bible study, pastor and author Francis Chan invites students into the power that comes from anchoring their identity in Christ.

Different with Jonathan Evans

Today’s world tells teens to walk around life with a mirror in front of their face. They question their looks, persona, and acceptance nonstop, thinking that one more post on social media might gain people’s attention. But God offers an alternative mirror. When God rules over our lives, he flips everything upside down. In this youth Bible study, Jonathan Evans will walk students through the parables in Luke to teach what it looks like for God to rule our lives.

Jesus Changes Everything with Nick Hall

Teenagers often feel trapped. They’re stuck in the same habits, depression sets in, and they wonder about their purpose. The lie that nothing will ever change pulls teenagers deeper into the rut. But Jesus offers us a way out. In this four-part youth Bible study, Nick Hall talks to students about how a relationship with Jesus changes everything—our identity, relationships, habits, and mission.

This is the Day with Tim Tebow

Have you ever felt stuck? Sometimes life feels rigid—as if nothing could ever really change. Maybe we’re afraid of taking a step of faith. Or maybe we’re too injured from the past to move forward. No matter where you find yourself, you can make the most of today. In this inspirational series, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow shares stories from his life to illustrate what it means to seize each day for God’s glory.

Dream Big with Jennie Allen

What do you want to be when you grow up? It was an easy question to answer when they were little, but life gets complicated for teen girls. When they get stuck in drama, discontentment, sadness, and shame, how can they even begin to look ahead to the future? In this four-part Bible study, Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering, inspires teen girls to throw off everything that holds them back and be energized by God’s dream for them. Dreaming big starts now.

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Each January, millions of Christians around the world use the start of the new year as a springboard for new spiritual routines. 


But despite our best intentions to engage with God every day, many of us struggle to do so. According to The American Bible Society, 181 million Americans opened a Bible in 2021. Of those 181 million people . . .

  • More than 28 million reported feeling unsure of where to start reading the Bible. 
  • More than 27 million reported not having time to read the Bible regularly. 
  • More than 21 million said the Bible’s “language is difficult to relate to.” 


If you have struggles, doubts, or fears when it comes to engaging with God’s Word, you are not alone. Millions of Christians desire to spend more time with God, but don’t know how.

So, how can we spend daily time with God when obstacles get in our way? To answer that question, we’ll start by digging into what God’s Word says about spending time with him. 

1. God wants to spend time with you. Spending time with God isn’t just something we should do for him—it’s something he wants to do with us. We serve a personal, caring God who invites us to come to him for rest (Matthew 11:28–30). 

2. There isn’t one “right” way to spend time with God. If we approach God with a humble heart, we have freedom in the details of how we engage with him. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” God cares more about our heart posture than our method of relating to him. 

3. God’s grace helps us change and keep new habits. Starting a new habit is overwhelming when we try to do it on our own. However, when we depend on God for help, we are empowered to change by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12:1–2 encourages Christians to surrender to God’s renewing sanctification that will help us look more like him. We don’t need self-help; we need to depend on God for true transformation. 

Let’s get practical about how we can spend time with God regularly in 2022. There will be some reflection prompts in the following section, so make sure you have somewhere to record your answers. 


How to Spend More Time with God in 2022:

1. Make a plan. There’s a big difference between saying to yourself, “I’ll spend time with God at some point,” and “I will spend thirty minutes with God at [time] and [place].” The clearer your plan, the more likely you are to make it happen. Take a moment to write down your plan. 

2. Find an accountability partner. Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” One of the best tools we have for habit change is the accountability and support of one another. If you want to spend more time with God, it will be helpful to tell trusted friends so they can keep you accountable. Brainstorm a list of possible accountability partners and plan how you will stay accountable to them. 

3. Invite God into your daily routine. Think of the things you do every single day and ponder how you could integrate God’s Word into those pre-existing routines. For example, if you usually watch TV before bed, try putting your Bible on your bedside table and reading before you go to sleep. If you’re in the habit of listening to the news on your morning commute, try listening to worship music or a sermon. The options are endless. List three things you do every single day and brainstorm ways to invite Jesus into those routines. 

4. Be creative. Spending time with God doesn’t have to be a chore. You don’t have to do the same thing every day. Remember, God cares more about our heart posture than our method of relating to him. You can switch up your routine by listening to a Christian podcast or watching a Bible study video. RightNow Media has a vast library of biblical videos you can use as a starting point for your devotional time. These videos can help you better understand Scripture, live by biblical values, and learn to share your faith with others.

Want to get started with RightNow Media? Here’s a few video recommendations for any life stage: 

  • Are you a young adult searching for direction? Watch Adulting with Jonathan Pokluda. 

You can also browse our Men’s, Women’s, Youth, and Kids libraries to discover video content for everyone. 

It takes time for habits to form and change, and the journey won’t be perfect. Instead of getting discouraged by your struggles and slip-ups, use them as opportunities to grow closer to God. Remember, he wants to spend time with you. Whether you’re reading the Bible, watching a RightNow Media video, or journaling your prayers to God, each interaction with him will sanctify you to think, act, and love more like Jesus. 

Four Ways to Grow Your Faith in the New Year

The Christmas season is full of light, joy, and beauty. At the center of our celebrations and family traditions is a vulnerable baby in a feeding trough—Emmanuel, God with us. As Christmas approaches, the season of Advent offers us a chance to reflect on our savior, his purpose, and the surprising ways he invited people near to him. 


To help you and your church reflect on the coming, or advent, of Christ, pastor Derwin Gray spent time with our team filming Advent, a five-part series exploring the ways the birth of Jesus changes everything. We caught up with Derwin after he preached at the RightNow Conference to hear about his experience making this series and his hope for everyone who watches it. 


RightNow Media: What was it like filming with our team?

Derwin: Filming with the RightNow Media team is not only fun—because they are all hilarious and we have good chemistry because they are great people—but also, they have professional expertise. The way they are able to take content and match it with locations and editing encourages me in my faith. I am excited about this Advent series because they make me better than I am! 


RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Derwin: The biggest thing I learned about Advent was a greater awareness of God’s heart. Advent means “arriving” or “coming.” In the beginning, the Father had already determined that Jesus was going to come and reconcile all things to himself. The way he goes about that is beautiful, mysterious, life-giving, and powerful.


RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Derwin: I want them walking with Jesus more. Jesus is not just a Sunday friend; he is an all-week, all-the-time companion. He’s Lord. He’s Master. 


The beauty of Advent is that we see the beauty and vulnerability of God entering into humanity in a fragile state and form. We see God use people to do incredible things! You don’t have to be the biggest or the best. Mary was just a teenager. Joseph was just some guy! God takes ordinary people and does extraordinary things. 


So, I want people to be overwhelmed with God’s grace and the gift of his Son this Christmas. 

Behind the Scenes: Advent

The book of Hebrews can be intimidating. It is long, theologically dense, and full of cultural references that feel distant from our everyday lives. So, sadly, many of us keep our distance from this rich and encouraging book. But not Dr. Derwin Gray. 

Derwin spent time with our production team in North Carolina filming our new series, The Book of Hebrews, an eight-part series walking through the thirteen chapters of Hebrews. We caught up with Derwin Gray after he preached at the RightNow Men’s Conference to hear about his experience making this series and his hope for everyone who watches it. 

RightNow Media: What was it like filming this series with our team?

Derwin: Filming with the RightNow Media crew was awesome! Not only are they professional, they are genuinely good people who love Jesus. We worked hard, but we had a lot of fun. They also helped me find some new fishing spots to catch bass. I enjoyed being around them—I feel like I made friends [working on this study]. It’s always a good thing when you can make friends and talk about Jesus while making content that helps other people make friends and talk about Jesus as well.


RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned when preparing for this series?

Derwin: Hebrews is a pensive, beautiful book that calls us to the ancient way of following Jesus in the midst of circumstances that are not going your way. There was a great deal of persecution and a great deal of suffering [in the ancient church] and the Holy Spirit led the author of Hebrews to communicate, “Trust his grace.” Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the radiance of his glory. While preparing for this study, my picture of Jesus got bigger. 


RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Derwin: I want people to walk away from this study saying, “I had no idea Jesus was so lifegiving, powerful, near, and present.” I want people to understand that we can approach his throne of grace and mercy in our time of need. Jesus’s grace is infinite—it never runs out.


Behind the Scenes: The Book of Hebrews

Our production team holds themselves to a high standard of excellence. They work hard to find the best locations, the best teachers, and to film exciting and insightful content for your church and small groups. But every shoot has its own unique challenges and, sometimes, things don’t go exactly to plan. 


While filming our upcoming series The Acts of the Apostles, our team and pastor Louie Giglio had to deal with unexpected weather changes and rogue tow trucks during a marathon two days of shooting. We caught up with Louie Giglio to learn about his experience filming this study, what God taught him while preparing his teaching, and his prayer for everyone who goes through this study of Acts.


RightNow Media: What was it like filming this series with our team?

Louie: It was your typical “I am doing something that is going to make a difference in the kingdom” experience. We recorded in an old factory in Atlanta—metal roof, open spaces, and open-air in many ways. The temperature inside was the same as the temperature outside and the beautiful weather we had the week before had turned into forty-nine degrees and pouring down rain. So, for two days, the amazing RightNow Media team shot this thing under not-the-best conditions. 


We got one shot going, it was happening, we were rolling, and a guy comes driving up through the shot! His headlights were shining behind me right into the camera. A tow truck—because some people who had been at the building a few days before left a rental car there—came driving through the shot. I was talking about how the gospel is going to go to the ends of the world and he stops in the shot and starts to back up! BEEP BEEP BEEP. It was like, “Cut. Let’s start over. Hey, can you get your car and go, please?”


But that’s what it’s like when you are shooting one of these Bible studies. When you’re watching it, it’s so put together; the team does an amazing job! But it is a hustle to shoot because the enemy doesn’t want this message to get out. And we’re shooting this in the wild, so you never know what the next distraction will be.


It was like that for two straight days, but props to the RightNow Media team! They’re the best, they did a fantastic job. We had a bond like a family after going through a book like Acts. It was a family event. God was in it. I felt like I had run a marathon after the second day, but it was worth it!


RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned when preparing for this series?

Louie: I love the story of Acts because it’s our story. We are still living in the story of Acts. One of the things that really stuck out to me was as Paul was on his way to Rome—there was a shipwreck, a storm, they were wrecked on the island of Malta—the Bible says everyone was accounted for. Luke, who was writing this, says there were 276 people and they were all accounted for. God is writing a big global story, but he also knows every single one of us. We are all accounted for, and we all have a role in taking the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth. 


RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Louie: You know, the place where we filmed this series was a working factory about a hundred years ago. On either side of the factory was a huge building with multiple train tracks going into it. Then there was another huge building on another side with lots of tracks leading into it. A small channel with a single set of tracks connected all the buildings. I don’t know what they made at this factory, but a train came into one building, a cart took something from that train across to the factory. Then, whatever they made, was taken from the factory to a departing train and sent away. Everything was connected.


As we shot, I thought, “That’s Acts. We are standing in Acts!” God brings the gospel to us in multiple tracks and stories, the gospel changes us, then he takes us somewhere else in the world to people who need to hear that story. 


The takeaway from that story is that you are in Acts. It is not just about Peter, Stephen, Paul, Lydia, or all the churches that were planted. The Acts of the Apostles are still in motion taking the story of Jesus to all people. The gospel spread from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and now to the ends of the earth. We are in Acts.


Behind the Scenes: The Acts of the Apostles

Today’s teens can find their value in how many followers they have on social media instead of in God. They can focus on having influence rather than on what’s influencing them.  

At RightNow Media, our goal is to provide churches and student ministries with access to a library curated with the latest teaching for youth Bible studies from premier teachers. Including series like Not A Fan: Teen Edition by Kyle Idleman and a number of RightNow Media Originals, we have thousands of options for your Bible study. Here are five video Bible studies that are perfect for your youth group or student ministry—plus check out our youth Bible study roadmap to make curriculum planning a breeze.

5 VIDEO BIBLE STUDIES FOR YOUTH GROUPS

Finding Truth with Francis Chan

Christians today face all kinds of challenges when it comes to understanding who they are and what they’re meant to do. There’s no shortage of options that claim to offer “truth.” If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves chasing after popular opinion all the while neglecting the unchanging truth found in Scripture. In this four-session youth Bible study, pastor and author Francis Chan invites students into the power that comes from anchoring their identity in Christ.

Different with Jonathan Evans

Today’s world tells teens to walk around life with a mirror in front of their face. They question their looks, persona, and acceptance nonstop, thinking that one more post on social media might gain people’s attention. But God offers an alternative mirror. When God rules over our lives, he flips everything upside down. In this youth Bible study, Jonathan Evans will walk students through the parables in Luke to teach what it looks like for God to rule our lives.

Jesus Changes Everything with Nick Hall

Teenagers often feel trapped. They’re stuck in the same habits, depression sets in, and they wonder about their purpose. The lie that nothing will ever change pulls teenagers deeper into the rut. But Jesus offers us a way out. In this four-part youth Bible study, Nick Hall talks to students about how a relationship with Jesus changes everything—our identity, relationships, habits, and mission.

This is the Day with Tim Tebow

Have you ever felt stuck? Sometimes life feels rigid—as if nothing could ever really change. Maybe we’re afraid of taking a step of faith. Or maybe we’re too injured from the past to move forward. No matter where you find yourself, you can make the most of today. In this inspirational series, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow shares stories from his life to illustrate what it means to seize each day for God’s glory.

Dream Big with Jennie Allen

What do you want to be when you grow up? It was an easy question to answer when they were little, but life gets complicated for teen girls. When they get stuck in drama, discontentment, sadness, and shame, how can they even begin to look ahead to the future? In this four-part Bible study, Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering, inspires teen girls to throw off everything that holds them back and be energized by God’s dream for them. Dreaming big starts now.

Video Bible Studies for Youth Groups

In a culture that daily redefines masculinity, it’s important for Christian men to look to the Bible as a guide for their lives.

At RightNow Media, our goal is to provide churches and their members with access to a library curated with the latest teaching for men’s Bible studies from popular teachers, including series like Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman and 33 The Series from Authentic Manhood. Below are five video Bible studies that are perfect for your men’s group—and if you're looking for more ways to deepen your faith as a man of God, check out our men's Bible study roadmap and follow along throughout the year.

5 VIDEO BIBLE STUDIES FOR MEN

Be a Godly man with Joby Martin

God has created men to have an incredible strength. But today’s culture has hijacked masculinity, distorting strength into passivity and abuse. In this five-part video Bible study, Joby Martin, pastor of The Church of Eleven22, invites men to embrace God’s definition of masculinity and step into his calling upon their lives.

Stepping Up with Dennis Rainey

Unpack what biblical manhood looks like and what it means to be a godly, courageous man in today’s world in this men’s video Bible series. Featuring teaching from Matt Chandler, Voddie Baucham, Tony Dungy and more, viewers will dig deeper into what it means to step up and live a courageous life.

Shaken with Tim Tebow

Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream, or heartbreak. And while this is not an easy space to go through, when we are grounded in the truth, we can endure the tough times. In this powerful series, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passionately shares glimpses of his journey and what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world.

7 Challenges Men Encounter with Vince Miller

Daily it’s getting more challenging to be a man. Our present culture is redefining manhood and confusing men in their pursuit of biblical manhood. Discover how to respond to today’s culture by rejecting passivity and investing in the eternal purpose found in Jesus. Let others see masculinity and manhood through the lens of Christ in your life with these seven characteristics and become a better man, husband, father, and leader.

Play the Man with Mark Batterson

In the church today, many men find themselves confused about what it actually means to be a man. Our culture does little to help. The result is a generation of men who struggle to embrace their responsibilities, roles, and the purpose for which God created them. In this series, Mark Batterson highlights seven virtues of manhood to offer clear insight into what it means to be a faithful man of God.

Video Bible Studies for Men

In a culture that daily pulls women indifferent directions, it’s important for Christian women to look to the Bible as a guide for their lives.

At RightNow Media, our goal is to provide churches and their members with access to a library curated with the latest teaching for women’s Bible studies from trusted teachers. Through licensed content and our partnership with IF:Gathering, we have thousands of Bible studies for women. Here are five video Bible studies that are perfect for your women’s Bible study—and don't forget to check out the women's Bible study roadmap to follow along with throughout the year.

5 VIDEO BIBLE STUDIES FOR WOMEN

Nice with Sharon Hodde Miller

God never called us to be nice. We live in a culture that prizes niceness as one of its highest virtues. Niceness keeps the peace, wins friends, gains influence and serves our reputations well. But it can also take the teeth out of the power of our faith. In this five-session series, Sharon Hodde Miller explores the seemingly innocent idol that has crept into our faith and quietly corrupted it and the fruits we bear. Cultivate a better “tree” and reclaim your credibility as a follower of Christ.

Miracles of Jesus – An IF:Gathering & RightNow Media Original

Miracles of Jesus explores all four Gospels with teaching from Jennie Allen, Bianca Olthoff, Jada Edwards, and Sadie Robertson. Discover the ways Jesus healed, provided for, calmed, and resurrected the people he encountered. This seven-session study is about believing in the power of God who can accomplish anything. There’s nothing too big or too small for us to bring to him.

The Struggle is Real with Nicole Unice

We often believe that when we follow Jesus, life should get easier. And when it doesn’t, we dell ourselves we’re failing or stuck or abandoned by God. But this simply isn’t true. In this six-part series, Nicole Unice explores why life’s a struggle and what to do about it. With God as the hero of the story, a hard day has a new meaning. Our lives can be defined by redemption instead of struggle.

Every Good Gift with Ann Voskamp

How natural is generosity to who you are? The Bible has a lot to say about hospitality, generosity, and stewardship. We have a cloud of witnesses globally, nationally, and locally who provide incredible testimonies of generosity. Tethered to biblical accounts of giving, this six-session series with author and speaker Ann Voskamp explores examples of offering hospitality, time, money, spiritual gifts, and empathy to the glory of God.

The Dream of You with Jo Saxton

Let’s be honest: the life you lead isn’t what you’ve always dreamt. You can scrub the surface of your life until it gleams and still never address the fact that somehow you lost sight of who you really are and what you’re living for. In this six-session Bible study, author and speaker Jo Saxton examines biblical figures and shares her personal story as she invites you to turn to the one who knows you intimately and loves you deeply.

Five Video Bible Studies for Women

We can all agree that sharing good news with a friend is pretty exciting. It’s especially true when the news has a direct impact on your friend’s life—an extra ticket to a theme park, the cancellation of class, or maybe an invitation to a highly anticipated party. In a similar way, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ can be just as thrilling. We get to encourage someone through our testimony and explain the power of God, hopefully leading to their salvation.

As a youth leader, teaching your students how share the good news of Jesus is one of the most important things you can do, especially with the growing number of young people today who are uninterested with the church. It’s natural to help your students learn about standard teen issues like godly relationships, temptations, or peer pressure—but how well can they communicate the foundations of their faith to others?

For young Christians in middle and high school, the thought of sharing the gospel might sound easier than it actually is. Students deal with an immense amount of social pressure and fear of judgment due to the impact of social media, television, and music. And no matter their personality type, talking to new people—especially about religion—can be a bit frightening.

In order to help prepare and equip your youth group to share the gospel with others, there are a few things you can do to ensure they feel confident and keep realistic expectations as they learn the ins and outs of evangelism.

Start with the Basics

In order to ensure that your youth ministry is prepared to share Jesus with others, find out if they know the basic elements of the faith: Who is Jesus and what did his work accomplish? What are the implications of his death and resurrection? Do they agree that surrendering their life to Jesus and believing in him is the only way to salvation? Walking them through the fundamentals of the gospel will give them the foundation necessary to have a good conversation about Christ.

One method to help the students who struggle to remember the nuances of the gospel is Scripture memorization. Memorizing Scriptures like Romans 10:9–13, Ephesians 2:8–9, and 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 can help them understand and share the gospel. And series like Finding Truth with Francis Chan can also help your students approach Scripture in a healthy way.

You can also prepare them through Bible study. Deep theological insights aren’t always necessary when leading someone to Jesus, but knowing what the Bible says about Jesus is a great start. The more your students know about Christ and his work, the better their conversations about the gospel will be. Remind them about how well they’re able to describe their best friend or favorite celebrity to someone. The more intimately they know Christ, the better conversations they can have.

The Importance of Apologetics in Youth Ministry

We live in a world that doesn’t value the traditional route of passing out tracts or standing on the street corner with Bible quotes on a poster board. Techniques have changed because we live in an age of information—and thanks to the internet, young people have access to whatever answers they need. For this reason, students hoping to share the gospel should consider studying apologetics.

In a nutshell, apologetics helps students defend their faith or justify the reasons for their beliefs. When people have questions or become confused about how Christianity fits into the rest of the world’s religions, students can know how to respond. Check out Quick Shots with apologist J. Warner Wallace for more tips on how to address hard questions.

Apologetics is also helpful because there are a lot of misconceptions about Jesus among unbelievers. Learning to defend their faith and dispel the myths and confusion others have about Christianity could be a great way for students to bring others to Christ. Talking about apologetics doesn’t have to be complicated either—the series Apologetics with Matt Chandler is a great way to start the conversation with your students.

Expectations

At the end of the day, one of the most important things you can do for your students is prepare them for rejection. Rejection is a normal part of life. Young people deal with issues like peer pressure and cancel culture often enough to keep them nervous about putting themselves out there. Remind them that not everyone they share the gospel with is going to receive it well, or even want to have the conversation. They could lose friends, or even gain enemies. But if they have realistic expectations beforehand, evangelism can be much less intimidating and much more exciting. As long as they remember that changing the heart of someone is the Holy Spirit’s job, and not theirs, they can share the gospel without unnecessary pressure.

Now is a great time to help your youth group learn how to share the gospel, talk about Jesus, and encourage others to do the same. In Mark 16:15, Jesus commanded for all of us to proclaim the gospel to others and obeying him has no age limit. Show your students that they can make a godly impact on not just their classmates, but the entire world—and the time starts now.


If you are looking for Bible study resources for your student ministry, we have a library of great studies to help you get started, complete with questions to help you facilitate conversations.

Preparing Students to Share the Gospel

So, you’re about to lead a small group, maybe for the first time, and you’re sure your pastor made a mistake in asking you to lead this group. You may be feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and a little anxious at the thought of someone asking a question you don’t know the answer to. How can you, a normal person, lead a small group?

For some reason, we often think Bible study leaders have to be the smartest person in the room, armed with quick, charming, and compelling answers for every question. Good leaders host their small group in a pristine home or know the coolest place in town to chat over coffee. They’re stylish, funny, brilliant, put-together, and BFFs with Jesus. Now, we know small group leaders aren’t all of those things but—for whatever reason—we are sure we have to be that kind of leader. 

The truth is you don’t have to be perfect in order to be effective. You don’t even need to be perfect in order to be a great small group leader. The best small group leaders are actually far from perfect, but they do share some traits in common that you can easily add to your own life. 


Great small group leaders are guides, not gurus.


Take a second to answer this question: What makes small group leaders different than the people they are leading?


Many of us think leaders are gurus—perfect, all-knowing, wise ones who know the Bible inside and out and can answer any question. But gurus make really bad small group leaders. They tend to make group meetings all about themselves, their knowledge, and their insights. It’s pretty hard to focus on Jesus when the leader is making the group about themselves. 

 

The most effective small group leaders are guides. They have a map, know what trail they are on, and know where they are headed. Their leadership is not about getting everyone to focus on them but on avoiding dangers and making progress towards their destination. 


Your small group time is not about you; it’s about Jesus. Your responsibility is to keep people focused on him, becoming more like him, and making him known. 


But what if you don’t have the answer to a tough question? A guru would be threatened because it would challenge their status as the all-knowing leader. But a guide? Guides aren’t threatened because they have the “maps” of God’s Word, the support of church staff, and an abundance of great resources for answering tough questions at their fingertips. Guides actually become more helpful when tough questions come up.


If you don’t know an answer, be honest: “I don’t know, but I will try to find an answer for our meeting next week.” Which brings us to the second quality of effective leaders.


Great small group leaders are prepared.

It’s like legendary basketball coach John Wooden said,

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 

Being prepared doesn’t mean you have to outline your meeting minute by minute, but you should know what you are going to cover in your group that week. Take time to look over the Bible verses, study questions, and any resources you will be using. Preparation will look different for everyone, so find a method that works best for you.

The most effective small groups aren’t thrown together last second; they are the result of a prepared leader prayerfully thinking through the time they are about to spend in God’s Word. After all, if you are a guide, you need to know your map!


But being prepared does not mean you have to teach your group because… 


Great small group leaders see their groups as communities, not classrooms.


You don’t have to be a seminary professor or pastor to be a great group leader. You simply need to facilitate conversation. Think of your group as a community rather than a classroom. Your goal in the group is to help the church grow in spirit and in truth, not ace a Bible quiz. 


Ask an opening question and wait for people to start talking (it’s okay to endure a little awkwardness). If your group starts running down a rabbit trail, gently point them back to the topic at hand. Ask open-ended questions. Try to get everyone involved in the conversation. At the end of your time, talk about ways to apply what you are learning. 


More often than not, you will learn from the people in your group. They will see things you missed. They will have ideas you wished you’d thought of. But for a great small group leader, being a part of a community headed towards Jesus isn’t about being in front—it’s about leading people to Jesus. 


Starting out as a small group leader can be daunting. But most of our anxiety comes from thinking we have to be spiritual gurus. Once we realize that we are guides, the anxiety to be perfect starts to slip away. When we prepare well, we will build our confidence. Shifting our role from “teacher” to “member of the community” will take away our self-imposed performance pressure. 


Great group leaders are normal people, just like you. No matter your background or leadership experience, if you guide people to Jesus you’ll be doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. 

Are you a first-time small group leader? Check out our series 6 Tips for a Great Small Group with Bill Search or reignite your small group with the Embark series with Robby Angle.


If you are looking for resources to help you lead a small group, we have a library of great studies to help you get started, complete with questions to help you facilitate conversations.

Qualities of an Effective Small Group Leader

Have you ever considered that God cares about how we spend our time and manage our use of technology?

He does. What we view on our screens directly affects how we think, feel, and behave. And God has opinions about the character of his people.


Parents know technology’s power intuitively, as we raise children in a digital age dominated by screens. The truth of Romans 12:2 applies to our online life too:


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”


How can parents help children see the role of technology in their pursuit of God’s will? 


Understand the Challenges


We must remember that digital content providers generally don’t care about our spiritual formation. They just want our undivided attention. Video games fix our concentration through built-in rewards that keep us coming back. Social media algorithms train us to seek likes and follows. Streaming platforms produce volumes of content aimed at enticing repeat viewers. Adults and children alike can be wooed into mindless—and countless—hours online.


Kids do not bear full blame for screen overuse—we parents are often tempted to choose PBS Kids, computer games, or movies to occupy our kids so that we can accomplish our own tasks. Laundry and meal prep loom daily. Perhaps we homeschool older children or work from home. Screens offer an easy distraction for kids that allow us to accomplish a little more than we otherwise could. 


The over-use of screens expanded exponentially in 2020 as parents struggled to manage lockdowns and quarantines during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many schools turned to online learning, forcing students to stare at screens for hours on end. Working parents fared similarly, with many transitioning from office to home via laptops, Zoom, and constant digital access to work.

 

“There are rooms full of men and women with PhDs in addictive computing, and they have a plan for your life—for you to look at that golden rectangle all day long,” warned Dr. John Dyer, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, at a panel on social media. “So if you don’t have a plan, you are not going to win. If you don’t think through how you are going to use it, then you’re going to fail.” 


So let’s start planning.


Apply Boundaries with Technology


Screens can be amazing, powerful tools for education, social connection, spiritual growth, and creativity. But children and teens have one plan for their devices: to play on them as much as possible. We parents must guard our kids’ minds while also training them how to do so for themselves.


Healthy screen use includes time limits.

Balance your child’s online time with reading, physical activity, chores, and play time. Make technology merely one aspect of life rather than the dominant pastime. Turn devices off at family time and bedtime and be prepared to remove them completely if your kids’ behavior warrants it.


Healthy screen use also includes content limits.

The internet is an open door that allows anyone to enter your home. Filters, blockers, and monitoring software remain effective tools that help parents prevent children from finding inappropriate material. Teach your kids what to do when they accidentally access inappropriate content. Help them remember 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”


Healthy screen use involves knowing how to use it for good.

As kids transition from TV to tablets, laptops to smart phones, let’s invite them to use their devices to bless others. What games are our kids playing? How are our teens engaging in social media? And do they consider how they reflect God’s character in their online lives?


When used wisely, technology is a gift that blesses our society. In Redeem the Screen, Kyle Idleman discusses how our screens can work to conform us to our culture. But God wants us to conform to his image. What could it be like to leverage our screens for God’s glory?


Bless Others with Technology


We must teach our children that people matter most. With this perspective, our kids will develop the ability to own their technology instead of it owning them. Their social media feeds will trend positive rather than negative, building others up instead of tearing them down. As you peek into their online habits, you’ll find practices to encourage and some to correct, always using Scripture as your guide. 


And as we parents model admirable online habits, we can cultivate a godly perspective on why and how to use screens. If we allow our smartphones to dominate our lives, so will our kids. If we choose uplifting content to watch, speak life on our social media platforms, and practice healthy habits with our screens, they will have no excuse. 


Screens can rule us if we let them. But tools are meant to be mastered for our benefit, not become our masters to our detriment. Through wisdom and discipline, parents can help kids purpose their online presence and use for their good and for the gospel.


Screens can rule us if we let them.

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