Small group fellowships
Since its inception, the heart of OCF has been the small group fellowship. While OCF is comprised of much more than Bible studies, these groups still serve as the backbone of our ministry. The small group can be a place where deeper connections and fellowship can be forged with other believers.
How to Start an OCF Small Group
For those who have never led a small group, the prospect of starting such an endeavor might appear daunting and overwhelming given the busy lifestyle of those in the military. However, starting an OCF local fellowship is very easy. You have already overcome the greatest hurdle we commonly encounter—finding someone who will take the initiative. We often say that all it takes to start an OCF group is one person who will say, “Hey! My house, Tuesday, 7 o’clock. Bring your Bible!” Many a successful OCF group has started with just those simple words. Below, you’ll find some resources to help you get started. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Before the First Meeting
Pray about starting a group. Let the Holy Spirit speak before launching on your own strength. If you still feel led, then pray about whom to invite, what to study, when to meet, and where to meet.
Find a wingman. It may be your spouse or another couple if you are thinking of a home Bible study.For a workplace study, find a like-minded Christian co-worker.
Invite initial participants. Face-to-face invitations often work best. However, with our changing technology and methods of communication, you may find a group text, email, or Facebook message is equally as effective.
Be prepared. The core element of the OCF small group is the study of the Bible. The leader is expected to come prepared through prior, personal study.
The OCF website has a wide selection of free, downloadable Bible studies online for your use.
8 Tips For Your First Meeting
Start and end on time. Starting on time will establish a practice of people coming on time. Timeliness on both ends shows respect for people.
Make sure the room setup is such that everyone can see everyone else. Design the room setup and rules of engagement so that there is a minimum of distractions. Have a policy regarding phone calls, child care, and other issues to minimize disruptions.
Avoid praying or reading around in a circle. While many people are comfortable reading aloud, there are exceptions. The same goes for praying. Take volunteers for these tasks rather than risk losing someone because they felt pressure to read or pray.
Likewise, don’t call on specific people to respond. While you may be confident that some people wouldn’t mind you specifically asking them, others might be apprehensive that you could do the same to them.
Start with easy questions. This serves the purpose of getting people talking. Observation questions—What does it say?—are a natural way to do this.
Don’t allow yourself to become the group expert. As appropriate, you may need to encourage people out of their comfort zones to take leadership.
Draw the study to a conclusion. Don’t quit without a summation. Discovering a bunch of interesting facts does not constitute a good study.
Don’t forget to do “application praying,” which involves talking with God about what was just learned from His Word and personalizing it into one’s individual life. This helps draw the study to a proper conclusion.
Get tips, tactics, and procedures for starting and leading a small group Bible study.
What to do After the First Meeting
Assess your group. After the first meeting you’ll have a better idea of what the group prefers and needs. Is childcare an issue? Is proximity to dinner a problem? Develop a strategy to meet group needs.
Undergird your plan in regular prayer. Continue to keep the group in prayer. Find some personal prayer partners who will encourage and pray for and with you.
As you grow, plan to divide the study. This needs to be understood from the start so that you do not meet with resistance when the time comes.
Review notes from the previous study, and prepare for the next one. Sometimes there is a topic of immediate interest that warrants searching the Scriptures to see what the Bible says.