Do you remember object lessons? That’s when a teacher or facilitator uses a physical object to help make a point or clarify a potentially complicated idea. For example, when I teach about our need to cut sinful behaviors out of our lives, I’ll often hold up a pair of scissors to illustrate the point. Usually, I’ll even ask group members to pass the scissors around during the discussion, simply as a way of enhancing their experience.
Recently, I’ve noticed that many small group leaders choose to turn their noses up at the idea of using object lessons in their groups. They feel like such tactics would be childish—probably because object lessons are in fact a great way to teach small children, which is why our teachers often used them back in school.
What’s interesting is that many creative and engaging pastors have warmed to the idea of using object lessons in their sermons within the past decade. One of my favorite examples involves Francis Chan demonstrating how to eat a Snickers® bar “for the glory of God.”
So what about small groups? I firmly believe that object lessons are a great tool for small group discussions. This is especially true when you have group members who lean toward a more hands-on learning style, which includes a large number of men.
With that in mind, here are a couple helpful examples of how to use object lessons in your group.
Blueprint for Success
Make an impression in your group by getting your hands on an official set of blueprints. You may be able to borrow a set from someone who works in the construction or engineering industries or from any entity that’s paid for a construction project—perhaps even your church. If you can’t find an official set of blueprints, there are plenty of templates available online. (Start here, for example.)
Once you have some blueprints, you can use them to supplement the group experience for a number of themes, including the following:
- Jesus as the Cornerstone or Capstone of the church.
- Building your life on the Rock, as opposed to the sand.
- The importance of making plans in life—or in aligning your life with God’s plans.
- The importance of counting the cost when it comes to following Christ.
- And so on.
With any of these themes, simply pass the blueprints around as a way to visually emphasize the importance of planning, building on proper foundations, counting the cost, and more.
Connecting Your Group
Here’s another idea that can serve as an interesting way to remind group members about the connection they share. Start by bringing a long extension cord (at least 25 feet, if possible) to the group meeting. Remind everyone that prayer allows us to “plug in” and gain access to God and His power. Then, direct participants to pass the extension cord around the group so that everyone can take hold of it at the same time.
When participants are linked together by the extension cord, lead the group in an extended time of prayer. Be sure to include both praise and thanksgiving to God, as well as a time of intercession where group members share needs and pray for one another.
Sam O’Neal is a Content Editor on the Adult Ministry Publishing team at LifeWay. He has a passion for seeing discipleship and full-bodied Christian education done right in the local church—especially in the context of small group communities. Sam is also the author of The Field Guide for Small Group Leaders.