Ever visited or been a part of a Bible study group where a majority of the members seem exclusively focused on gaining heavy, academic knowledge?
Sure, they have lively discussions. They know incredible amounts of theological terms. There is never a shortage of opinions regarding predestination, the end times, or the Nephilim.
The problem with groups like that is that they have often given themselves over to intellectualism, and in so doing, have lost many of the other benefits (serving, praying for one another, bringing new people into the group) of meeting together. Though you want your group to go deep, you want to avoid becoming solely focused on gaining knowledge alone. Consider these hints to keep balance in your ministry:
1. Vary your questions. Questions about the hard topics of Scripture are great and appropriate. There is profit to discussing the deeper mysteries of faith, but if all you do in your group is discuss, then there’s never any real life change that happens. That’s why it’s important to continually bring in questions of practicality to the discussion. Keep asking, “How does that change the way your see God?” or, “How does that answer change how you behave at work tomorrow?”
2. Make your group missional. From the very beginning, include an element of service, missions, and evangelism in your group’s DNA. By participating regularly in outreaching and challenging activities like these, you can help your group shift focus away from itself. You can achieve the balance of having deep, introspective discussions while not forgetting about the world around you. Besides engaging in those activities, also devote time each week to praying for each other, your community, and the world. Any of these things will bring a needed outward focus to the group.
3. Take an active leadership role. This goes without saying, but you have a great deal to do with the trajectory of your group. If you have more than one group under your care, it’s a good idea to check in with your leadership on a regular basis. Inside of the individual group, you can move the discussion along or in a different direction if you sense it’s not going the right way. Sometimes, it’s hard, but occasionally you have to be a little forceful to bring the group back on track. You can do so kindly but clearly with statements like, “That’s a great issue. Let’s table that for another discussion,” or “You’re obviously passionate about this subject. Can you tell us how that understanding has impacted the way you live?”
Ultimately, as a group leader, make it a priority to maintain as much balance as possible so that all group members will feel connected and free to learn and engage.
Excerpted from Context: Engaging the Young Adults of Your Community from Threads by Lifeway.