What are the benefits of a small group bible study?
Matthew 18:19 (ESV) Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Words of Jesus)
Those of you who know me will know that I have been blessed to be hosting a Bible study in my home and despite my presumptions about how I was going to bless others with some good verse by verse, line by line and precept upon precept teaching that was not at all what God had planned for us.
Yes that has happened, we have been going through a series that we created called “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” and we also did a three part series which included baptism, Lazarus being raised from the dead and lastly the account of Philemon. But it has not been what I thought it would be in my mind’s eye and God had a much better plan for the group than I did. For me it was confirmation that his ways are always higher than my ways and sometimes that is okay.
The word is still being taught but these people are bringing themselves. I did not know them before God brought us together but he has orchestrated people who are raw, honest and if they are struggling they will tell you so, if they need you they will let you now and when they bless you they truly do, some bring food, some bring gifts and others bring their heart and I feel blessed to be a tool that is used by God in this manner, none of this is me and I am not integral to this at all, but I am open to whatever God will ask me to do in facilitating and leading this group and I am blown away by the koinonia that is being formed and the community that is being built for his glory!
A recipe for a good small group has to have the following…
a) Covering in prayer
d) Sound doctrinal teaching from the bible
e) Strong leadership (maybe more than one so that the conversation is not one sided)
f) Accepting others as themselves
g) Love for one another
h) Community minded (actually wanting to spend time with each other)
i) Buy in from everyone
I would include worship in there but that is personal preference.
No small group is perfect
We are all imperfect people and we are not perfect, no small group will have all these elements and even if it does, there will be people who place themselves on the fringes and different personality types will gravitate towards the personalities they are attracted to. We have to love one another regardless.
So what are the benefits?
The benefits are many – here is my experience from a teaching and a member standpoint.
a) You can “chime in” when you have a question, the group can afford to go as slow as the slowest member.
b) You can help (with the leaders permission) to assist someone with doctrinal issues (either in the group or externally)
c) You go so much deeper than you could ever go in a Sunday message; some groups I have been in have spent 90 minutes going over the riches in 3-4 verses.
d) You are forced to think about the scriptures in a more intensive, more inductive way.
e) You grow together, relationships are formed and it becomes an actual community.
f) You get “real time” with people who maybe are not showing their “Sunday smile”.
a) The studying of the scripture is done based on an inductive style and you glean a new understanding of the text, the fact of the matter is that you study differently when you are studying personally and you are studying to teach something.
b) You are blessed when people “tune in”, “answer your questions” and understand the simple truths of God’s word.
c) When you formulate questions, you are doing a form of self-apologetics, questioning and strengthening your faith that is good for your personal growth.
d) God strengthens you for the task ahead, if this was being done only in my strength it would have faltered shortly after it began.
e) God strengthens your family, my wife and I have never been this in unison and the “little things” are seen as that.
f) People who may be intimidated by “going to church” are less intimidated by coming over to XXXX house.
It works in big and small churches too
Small churches – You may see a bigger % of buy in from a small church than a big church as you have an existing community and this maybe an opportunity to either have fun, fellowship or study the bible in a deeper fashion, it could also be used as a “wading pool” for potential leaders/teachers as led by the lead pastor or leadership team.
Larger churches – once a church reaches a certain size and multiple services then it will be impossible to get around everyone at church on a Sunday morning so the logical solution is a “Community group/small group format” again this could be used to find out who is willing/able to teach but it will be pivotal to help relationships grow and allow folks to connect, grow together, mentor and network.
I don’t know what the perfect model is & I cannot teach!
There is no “this is the perfect model and you have to follow it verbatim” because different things work for different fellowships and people are different wherever you go. Who would have thought that he would had a guy who was born in Scotland with a heavy accent open his doors to a bunch of Californians and God would bless it in ways that were beyond anything we could ask for. It is his group not mine and he will do with it what he pleases and my only input is to be faithful to what he is telling me to do.
I am not a seminary trainer preacher, I am preaching by the will of God, the blessing of my church, a lot of study and a great love for people and a desire to see people saved and growing in a relationship with Jesus Christ. If anything my wife is the talented one, she leads worship and takes care of any kids that come and teaches a children’s church. We truly are stronger as a missionary team and I am blessed because I have been open to what God wants to do in my life!
God is calling me to start a small group so now what?
a) Talk to your pastor/leadership of your local church – I am hoping they will offer prayer support and be a backup should you need it. I am comforted that the leadership at my church (and a few others) is praying for the group as a whole.
Secondly I am hoping that if they have any issues with you starting a study that may or may not be connected to the existing fellowship then they may bring the concerns up in a loving way.
b) Cover it in prayer – It might seem obvious but check, check and triple check that you are doing what God wants you too.
c) Check your motivation – Again might be obvious but check why you are doing this, is it to save new souls/invest in others? Is it to become a Pastor one day? Are you more interested in being noticed than investing in people?
d) Get stuck in! – The harvest is plenty and the laborers are few, we could do with more good men (or women if you want to lead a women’s study) and regardless if you want to facilitate already churched people or whether you want to invest in those who either do not know Jesus or are thirsty for more I would say that once you find out where God has placed you and wants you to go after then do it as Colossians 3:23 says “do it heartily as to the LORD”.
I pray this wee article was a blessing, a challenge or an exhortation please share, like or comment as God leads you too. Also if you like the articles then please follow my blog at the top of the page or join our social media pages.