Leading Challenge Communities

What are Challenge Communities?

Challenge Communities are our missional small groups led by a team of two students. They meet during the week in people’s homes, on campus, in dorms or other locations. They are an arm of Christian Challenge reaching into the hearts of students. They are vehicles for Christian Challenge students to literally be missionaries to the campus.

● Relationships are built and the Bible is studied

● Conversations develop beyond the surface

● Spiritual truths are discussed and deep questions are asked

● Application of the scripture is clarified and the Gospel is applied to everyday life

● The campus is engaged with the Gospel

Goals of a challenge Community


● Growing in love for God as students develop intimacy with Him and obedience to Him

● Growing in love for each other as students connect with fellow Challenge Community members and are shepherded by Challenge Community leaders

● Growing in love for the lost as students pray for and reach out to the campus


● Living out God’s Word through the discussion and application of Scripture

● Participating in Bible Study - Bible discussions are the tool, not a single person teaching or preaching while the group listens

● Facilitating Bible discussions - Challenge Community leaders ask Bible content and Bible application questions

o The Bible is the primary source, not a Christian book, website, blog, or podcast

o LifeGuide Bible Studies by Intervarsity Press are excellent Bible study discussion resources for Challenge Community leaders - see www.ivpress.com/lifeguide-bible-studies


● Serving others by continually inviting new people to join the Challenge Community

● Serving the lost by individually sharing the gospel with others as God leads

● Serving the campus through regular evangelistic, ministry and prayer projects organized and accomplished by the Challenge Community working together

o Each Challenge Community should choose an affinity group (people in a certain dorm, or in a certain major, or who make up a certain segment of the campus population)

o This fulfills the call to reach them for Christ

● Serving future Challenge Communities - leaders should be looking for potential future leaders within their Challenge Community (see help resource below)

Helps for challenge community leaders


● Plan a weekly prep meeting with your Challenge Community partner to plan the discussion and flow of the meeting, organize snacks ● Communicate with your people weekly outside of regular gatherings

● Meet with everyone in your Challenge Community one-on-one periodically, at least once each semester, meet with them early in the semester of possible

● Identify potential future Challenge Community leaders, and begin to give them leading responsibilities

● Work with your Campus Missionary to plan missional events on and around your campus

● Communicate a missional vision to those in your Challenge Community

● Live in a way that represents Christ and Christian Challenge well. Live above reproach. Don’t be shady; don’t live a double life.


● Where do you see God at work in each individual’s life?

● What are you doing to cultivate God’s work in each individual’s life?

● Do you know the story and the spiritual well being of each person?

● Could you make a list of what you know about each person?

● If you had to text one personally encouraging thing to each person, could you?

● Do the people in your Challenge Community know each other?


At the beginning of the fall semester Challenge Community leaders begin to look for individuals they can invite into an ongoing discipleship relationship and who have leadership potential. This means they are:

Faithful - they do what they say they are going to do, and show up when they say they are going to show up. They are trustworthy.

Available - they have time to meet with you regularly, can make time to invest in their own spiritual maturity, and have time to give to some Challenge Community leading responsibilities.

Teachable - they are eager to grow and learn. They are bought into being a disciple and are excited to have you invest in their life.

Influence - they affect the people around them. When they talk, people listen. Whether they try to make it happen or not, people follow them and do what they do.

Initiative - they see things that need to happen and see that they get done. They don’t have to have everything explained to them or always be asked to do something.

Integrity - they have strong character and the respect of those around them. As you identify potential leaders they don’t have to be perfect, but they are willing to overcome the character issues they may have.


● Start with a quick discussion question o this brings the group from lots of little conversations going on to one group conversation. You hope to have everyone answer the question. If they break their silence here they are much more likely to interact during the spiritual conversation.

o Ask questions that lead them to remember personal experiences that were fun or stir up joy. Questions about childhood are good because they cause deeper reflection and it’s personal. If you have less than 12 people feel free to have them tell stories or give short answers: “What was your favorite birthday party when you were a kid and why?” If your group is larger, ask questions that require 3 one-word answers: “What’s your favorite cereal?” Affirm people’s answers. If they find it’s safe to talk they will talk again.

● Give an overview o Have a plan o Make sure the main principle is stated o Introduce the scripture

● Ask open-ended questions (can’t be answered with just a yes or no).

● Don’t ask for personal confession

o Community questions ask for general reflection. Ask, “how do we?” not “how do you?”

o If people get personal it’s ok

● Don’t be afraid of silence

o It doesn’t mean you are failing, it just means people are thinking

o If the silence continues ask the question again in a shortened version

● Sit next to the person who talks too much

o If you are across the circle from them you’ll look at them more which they take as their cue to talk

o If that doesn’t help, comment on it when you meet them one-on-one, ask them to help you lead by letting others talk more

● Affirm people’s answers when they give good insight - If they say something that is a little off ask the rest of the group, “what do the rest of you think about that?”

● Respond to cliché or churchy answers with, “What does that mean?”

● Let the Group answer questions

o If an individual asks you a question, especially if it’s a big slow pitch soft ball you could hit out of the park, open it up to the rest of the group by saying, “That’s a great question, how would you guys answer that?”

o Affirm good answers and give your two cents after you let a few others give it a shot

● Recognize people’s personalities o Introverts need time to think and process internally so when they answer they’ve usually thought through what they are saying

o Extroverts need to process out loud, so they may say a lot, it may not be very clear, and you may need to help summarize their monologs

● Close discussion o Use a recap statement of the main principle

o Restate other relevant points from the conversation

● Pray

o Close in prayer by praying a blessing over the group, this is where you get to be a shepherd in their lives

o On occasion take prayer requests or break up into groups to pray.

● Wrapping Up 4

o Make announcements

▪ Get people to sign up for food

▪ Remind them of other Christian Challenge activities

▪ Talk about your Challenge Community’s missional projects

▪ Talk about next week’s Challenge Community if things will be different

o Going from intimate spiritual conversation to giving information helps wrap things up


  • 6:30pm – Everything is set up, prayed over, and ready to go. You are greeting people and dispensing handshakes and high-fives

  • 6:35 – Snacks and general conversation

  • 6:45pm – Introduce a topic of conversation (this is a better way of saying ice-breaker without calling it an ice-breaker), moving the room from lots of small conversations to one large group conversation

  • 7:00pm – Share a brief overview of the context of the passage if appropriate, read the passage of scripture

  • 7:05pm – Start asking the discussion questions

  • 7:30pm – Ask the application questions

  • 7:50pm – Pray over your Community

  • 7:55pm – Give announcements