Our beginning small group studies were oriented toward knowing each other better. In the midst of that process, I looked for small group materials that would inspire and enliven our new members and core group.
One of our members grew up in church but he thought the Beatitudes were the “Be” Attitudes, one of our earliest studies. Another of our earliest members had never had the experience of studying the Bible in an intentional way.
When we met for small group it was not unusual to find that no one had cracked the Bible in the last week, much less studying for the evening’s lesson. It was frustrating, to say the least.
The next several years the small group continued, and we continually looked for materials that would interest our young Jesus followers. A favorite was the Animate Series with great speakers like Phyllis Tickle, Shane Claiborne, and Nadia Bolz-Webber. Small group sessions were animated (pun intended).
But we had never had a “hard core” Bible study, and our group did not understand the sheer power of understanding what God has passed down to us as His followers.
A huge change occurred when we added two new families and our small group moved to the home of one of the new families. We finished our current video series and then talked about what we would study next. The group decided it would like to study Acts using an N.T. Wright study guide. The ground shifted under our small group.
The circumstances of our small group’s study lined up in a Godward way, and the group began to be very interested in knowing more depth regarding the Bible as well as being willing to put in some study time. People that had previously been pretty shallow suddenly started to sit up and take notice.
Among the changes instituted in our group was beginning each small group session with a check-in and ending with a check-out, allowing each group member some time for reflection before and after the study. Reading the text has had a profound impact on group members. One member constantly says, “I am so impressed by Paul’s commitment and willingness to suffer in spite of it.”
I don’t know what caused the change. We went from being a group that was content to view video studies to a group that hungers for greater spiritual understanding and depth. One couple that came to us from the largest local evangelical church repeatedly talk about the difference this has made in their lives.
I have concluded that there is a particular approach to Scripture that is more attractive and desirable than others. One of our group members remarked at our last meeting that she loved the insight she was gaining. The group has elected to study Luke next as a follow up to Acts.
I would say that I am witnessing a collision between the Holy Spirit and the hunger of individuals as the group talks together about how Scripture is impacting their lives. A truly exciting experience.