From February 2nd-March 9th, Wieucans of all ages met once a week in homes scattered all over North Atlanta for fellowship and Bible study. Our six-week, in-home Bible study experiment used a study called 40 Days in the Word. We asked our 40 Days participants to fill out a short response form at the conclusion of our experiment. Since then, we’ve been pouring over the responses, and this is what your fellow church members had to say.
On a scale of 1 to 10, participants rated their overall experience as a 9, with the vast majority of responses clustered in the 8-10 range. Overall, 40 Days was a VERY positive experience for our members.
Similarly, with only one or two exceptions, all of our participants expressed an interest in participating in another small group study in the future.
When asked, “Was your 40 Days experience different from your Sunday morning Covenant Group experience? If so, how?” our participants shared some great positives from our experiment. Here’s a sampling:
“More good, open discussion.”
“More time for visiting and more time for discussion.”
“Smaller, more intimate environment.”
“More personal. I felt more comfortable sharing.”
“More intimacy, and that’s GREAT!”
“Share lives more closely in small group.”
“Discussion easier to understand, no ‘right and wrong’ answers.”
“More engaging. I wish more people could have participated.”
When we asked what we could have done differently to improve the experience, we also got some great feedback. Participants wanted:
- More training for group leaders/moderators.
- A better sign up process.
- More varied meeting times.
- A choice in what to study.
- Smaller groups. More than 10 people is too many.
- Flexibility in scheduling. Every week is too much with everything else we have going on.
- More focused groupings by age/life stage.
We also asked whether the 40 Days experiment was an effective way to build and strengthen relationships with other Wieucans. Our participants’ responses were overwhelmingly positive. They used phrases like:
“More personal relationships.”
“Made new friends.”
“Loving and caring people.”
“LOVE my small group.”
As we continue to evaluate our 40 Days experiment as a staff, we’re starting to develop a few takeaways based on the totality of these responses. Here are four.
40 Days participants responded with a great hunger for intimate, personal relationships with one another that our current structure isn’t meeting. If one sentiment came through loud and clear from our participants, it was that Wieucans are craving more comfortable settings to build relationships. Small groups and living room environments have the potential to meet that need.
Almost without exception, Wieucans are looking for more opportunities to engage scripture as a community. Irrespective of age, Wieucans are craving more comfortable settings to take part in practical, Bible-based discussion and instruction. Their responses show that open, relaxed and easy environments foster discussion and encourage greater individual–and group–engagement with scripture and Bible study materials.
We can get better at organizing small group opportunities. Communication can be clearer. Registration can be more user-friendly. Facilitators and hosts could use more up front support. Variety of meeting times and study materials is important. Keeping small groups small is also important. Now that you’ve told us what we can do better, we’re working on how we can do it.
We need to prioritize experiences that better grow disciples over experiences that don’t have discipleship as a priority or that are less effective as discipleship builders. If we value Christian community, growing relationships, and making disciples, our church calendar ought to reflect it. If small groups are an effective way to do those things, we shouldn’t be trying to shoehorn them into an already full calendar. Instead we should be creative about making room for groups to grow and flourish.
So there’s a summary of our first level of analysis. Our goal is to continue to find creative ways to improve connection and community at Wieuca. As we digest this feedback and continue to ask for more, we hope to improve and expand our experiment. As we do so, we covet your prayers that God will continue to bless our community. Your first chance to provide additional feedback is in the comments section!
See you Sunday.