Home groups and sermons, before or after?

I’m thinking through how to launch new home groups and linking them to Sunday sermons. Do we go for a study on the passage the week before or a discussion on the passage/sermon the week after?

If we go before then:
1. We’d probably go for the Swedish bible study method.
2. People arrive with some familiarity of the biblical material.
3. People come with questions – we might do question and answer sessions during or after the service.
4. It would hopefully help people want to engage on Sunday and listen harder.

If we go after then:
1. We’d probably go for a summary of the main points with application questions.
2. People would be able to dig deeper and think more about applying the sermon to home group and life.
3. It would hopefully help people want to engage on Sunday and listen harder.

Has anyone got any wisdom on this? What are the pros and cons of before or after? What have you seen work well?

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10 Responses to Home groups and sermons, before or after?

  1. étrangère says:

    I love after. But you could have a mixture (y’know, with slight complication of changeover dates!) It depends how people process things, I guess, but in our reflection-lite culture, I find it helpful to mull over the sermon for a day or two and then help each other reflect on it and apply it. In structure, it gives us the Biblical dynamic of teaching – that it’s addressed to a group, taken on board by a group who help each other in gifts and accountability to live it out as a group. Otherwise, it becomes group-feed on Sunday merely for convenience, and individual application, at best.

  2. neilrobbie says:

    Thanks Rosemary, I love the suggestion of mixing the two and Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, even half term would be obvious spots to swap. I take your point on reflection-lite, be good to encourage more thinking.

  3. neilrobbie says:

    Ed Moll wrote on Facebook:

    Hi Neil, I would go for preach first and study second. Bear in mind that sermons and studies can do different things well: sermon can give overview and structure (better than studies can in general); studies can explore detail and application (in ways that sermons can’t always).
    We struggled only when studies and sermons got out of step, so if you … See morecan stay in step, then so much the better.
    Hope you ahve a great time. (We’re about to embark on another term of joint series – we don’t do it all the time.

  4. neilrobbie says:

    Thanks Ed. In Wolverhampton we ran studies after sermons, I’ve not come across anyone whose done it the other way around yet, so perhaps that’s telling me something.

  5. étrangère says:

    In another church I was in, I honestly can’t remember if the studies came before or after the sermons, because the studies were very much ‘understanding the passage Bible studies’ rather than opportunities for group reflection, rebuke, encouragement, etc., on what had been taught. I see it as a good opportunity for study only as much as will remind of the sermon message, clarify, answer questions and explore, and then reflect & apply together (application including worship and prayer together).

  6. neilrobbie says:

    Dan Steele wrote on Facebook:

    Hey Neil. Ditto Ed’s comments above from our church perspective.

  7. dave says:

    We do afterwards, initially I wasn’t that keen but it’s worked well for depth of application.

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Dave, welcome to TG. Thanks for the advice. I asked a few wise bods at Mark Ashton’s thanksgiving service this afternoon who all go for after. I’d need to be brave/foolish (delete as appropriate) to go for before now!

  8. Tim V-B says:

    Ah, but Mark Ashton advised studies before the sermon, otherwise it became a ‘critique the sermon’ session.

    That said, I think I’d go for bible study afterwards, with a focus on application. Maybe you could have a set of application questions, themselves based on the Bible, which could be used each time. Some may not always be relevant but it would mean anyone could start a discussion/study. E.g. “How does this rebuke me?” (based on 2 Tim 3), “How does this proclaim Jesus?” (based on Luke 24), “How does this help me love the lost?” (Matthew 28), “What does this mean for my relationship with other believers?” (Eph 5, say).

    Thanks for the link to the Swedish method. Very interesting!

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Tim, we’re looking forward to seeing you in this neck of the woods very soon. Great questions. I’ve been busy downloading the questions from your blog this week! Neil

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