It’s the time of year when things start up again. You’re probably back at work or starting to gear up for another year of study. Your kids might be back at school soon and their after school activities are about to start up. And then your pastor encourages you to consider joining a Bible study group.
My immediate reaction upon being asked to fit something else into my life is “no way”. Life is busy as it is. A Bible study group will take up some of my precious free time on a weeknight or a Saturday, and I simply do not have the time.
I understand the objection. I know life is busy. But let me try, in this short blog post, to convince you that joining a Bible Study Group this year will be good for you.
Firstly, it will help you grow in your Bible knowledge and practical application of your faith. Attending church on a Sunday is of great importance, and I do pray that you learn much from the sermons and apply them faithfully to your life afterwards. But in a smaller group you have something you cannot have in a sermon context: interaction. You can ask your own questions, explore things that are unclear, think through personal applications you haven’t thought through before. And you can learn from the different perspectives and experiences of the others in the group. It can be a great benefit to you meditating on God’s word day and night as Psalm 1 encourages.
Secondly, it will build friendships in a deeper way than almost any other forum. Sunday morning tea is nice and friendly but there is little time to be deep. Shared social activities are great but are centred on something in common other than Jesus. Bible Study Groups have people of different backgrounds only united through their study of the Bible and prayer for one another. When you pray for each other and share your life together on a regular basis, it is a great encouragement for you and for them. It is an encouragement as you see the Day approaching in a difficult society to be a Christian (as in Heb 10:19-25). And it is an opportunity to use your gifts to serve others, whether with prayer, food, leading, or just your encouragement and contribution and regularity (1 Cor 11-14).
Thirdly, it will reveal your priorities in how you choose to spend your time. It is easy to whittle away all our time with work, with family commitments, with children’s sport, with watching TV, and to have the Christian side of things somewhat tacked on. A commitment on a regular basis to a group that studies the Bible and prays together is saying by your actions that you want to work on your faith and be a part of the church community. Yes, it will mean you have less time somewhere else. But our time all belongs to God and not ourselves; God is not someone we offer Sunday mornings to and the time when our favourite TV shows are not showing. We are to serve God with all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength (Matt 22:36). This pretty minimal commitment can actually be a great thing symbolically as well as practically.
All Nations has a range of groups you could be a part of, some weekly and some fortnightly. We have a midweek group that meets fortnightly, a mother’s group that meets fortnightly that caters for babies and toddlers, a Friday night group that meets weekly (and includes dinner), a Saturday morning group for those whose English needs some work, and a Saturday afternoon group which meets fortnightly that caters well for those with young children. And if a group of people want to meet outside that time, we will try to encourage this and provide some leadership. All material at all groups is provided and lines up with the sermon from the previous Sunday.
If you only change one thing activity wise in your life this year, this is a good choice.