A few years ago I received one of the best Christmas cards ever. It was a hand-written card from a new friend who said: “Thank you for helping me understand the real meaning of Christmas.” This friend had just become a Christian through a small group outreach study I had led that fall.
One of the most effective ways you can leverage your relationships with non-believers is by inviting them to learn more about Jesus through inviting them to participate in an outreach Bible study. Many find this is a daunting task which comes with many questions and hesitations. Lest you think this is only for ministry professionals, we have created this plan to help answer questions and push through hesitations in hopes of convincing you that we can help you get your own group started.
Here are some answers to some of the main questions that you might have about leading your own outreach study.
What would we study? We have had a number of groups use the study Christianity Explored and have gotten a lot of good feedback. Here are some things we like about Christianity Explored: it is well laid out, asks good questions, uses short videos that are well done and helpful, and it balances depth with realistic prep time for leaders and participants. (*If you are reaching out to a group that has never set foot in a church, Life Explored might be a better choice!)
How long is the study? The study is 8 sessions, plus an intro meeting. Some might think that starting an outreach study commits you to leading a study for years and years. Your commitment could be limited to do the outreach study with the intention of helping any new believers find a good church!
When would we meet? This all depends on your schedule and that of your target audience. The most common time slots to choose from are:
-Breakfast or lunch: Meeting over a meal has its challenges, but then again, everyone has to eat and sometimes eating while you are discussing deep subjects can be helpful.
-Evening: Often evenings are busy times, but is there one night of the week that is commitment-free that you could give up for 8 weeks to make an eternal investment for people?
-Mid-Morning or afternoon: A neighborhood study for stay at home moms might be able to do Mid-morning or afternoon.
Alternatively, you might meet every other week, or even once per month.
Where would we meet? Once again this depends on your target audience, but start with the part of town which would be best to gather this group, consider what ties this group together: work? a neighborhood? different friendships with the leader? a shared interest? Then consider these options:
-Home or Office: is there a home or office close to your target location that you could use? We know of some offices (including the church and other small businesses around uptown) that might be available, let us know if we can help.
-Restaurant: Think of a location that would work that also will meet your needs for space. Additionally consider: is the environment conducive to discussion? Is there a private room?
-Rented Space: We have looked into a number of new office solutions that rent out space on an “as needed” basis (WeWork, Level Office). Bringing light food like chicken biscuits into a boardroom in a space like this could be a great solution!
***See below for a list of potential locations.
Who will come? We have found it is really helpful to have a mix of strong believers and those that are interested in learning more in the same group. Therefore, we suggest 2-3 Uptown members come together and each find 1-3 friends to participate. Would your prayer triad be interested in giving this a shot? See below for a more detailed plan/process for gathering a group.
How much will it cost? Study materials, food, location costs…That can add up fast. We are ready to reimburse up to $500 for each outreach bible study that gets started up. That could cover all of your costs!
While this page is designed to address some of the obstacles keeping you from starting up your own outreach study, we would love to help answer any other questions you might have and help you strategize. At this year’s officer’s retreat, we set a goal for 5 new outreach studies to take place this year. Could you be one of them? We are here to help you! If you are interested in leading a group or want more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the detailed steps for gathering a group:
- Gauge interest-Each uptown member prays and contacts a broad range of people asking if they would be interested in participating in a study to learn more about Christianity at some point. We have found many people say yes to this non-threatening invitation if there is no plan in place. Make note of those that are interested.
- Contact all of those interested to see if they could plug into the group you are about to start (giving general starting date/duration, location, plan/expectations).
- For those interested, gather availability for time and locations.
- Contact the group about starting date, location, time and get a final commitment.
- Start with a pre-study meeting to get to know one another, explain the plan and pass out the materials.
Here are some Meeting place options:
WeWork (Uptown near the Westin)- 615 S College St, wework.com, (855) 593-9675
Level Office (Uptown near Knights stadium)- 227 W 4th St, leveloffice.com, (704) 899-5234
Restaurants ideas in and around Uptown:
7th Street public market (Uptown)- Lots of good options for food and coffee make this a busy lunch venue, but it could be a great option for breakfast (they open at 7am) there are large tables in the back where it is quieter. Validated Parking is available. 7am-8pm, 224 E 7th St, 7thstreetpublicmarket.com, (704) 230-4346.
Amelie’s (Uptown)- 7am-10pm, 380 S College St,, ameliesfrenchbakery.com, (704) 899-0088
Panera (Uptown), 6am-8pm, 201 S College St, (704) 998-2074.
Rhino Market and Deli (West side of Uptown) – 7am-11pm, 1500 W Morehead St, rhinomarket.com, (704) 348-1428.
The Famous Toastery (Uptown and Dilworth locations)-Although the Dilworth location is not as convenient as the Original Pancake house for some people there is plenty of space and it is a much quieter option! 7am-3pm, 330 S Tryon St or 2400 Park Rd, famoustoastery.com, (704) 503-9599 or (704) 215-4166
1900 Mexican Grill (Midtown)- there is a large circle table in the back that fits 8 which you can reserve for lunch. 11am-10pm, 1523 Elizabeth Ave, 1900mexicangrill.com, (704) 334-4677.
Author: Rev. Dave Kulp