The activities prior to a sporting event look like chaos. Vendors are moving up and down the aisle. Spectators compete with the vendors for isle space as they try to get to their seats. Players and officials scurry around on the playing field or court adding to the dissidence. If the game is televised, even more chaos is added to the scene. Eventually when the chaos seems to be at its height, the announcer addresses the crowd and the chaos subsided as everyone present begins to focus on the start of the game.
Compare the scene just described to what happens when people arrive for a Bible study group. If the group meets on the church campus, after finding a parking place, the scramble to the door takes place. Some are looking for coffee while others search for donuts. Families compete with the coffee drinkers who stand between them and the meeting places for their kids. Once in their group’s meeting place, the chaos intensifies as reviews of the previous week are shared and stories are swapped. Groups that meet offsite have a different kind of chaos, but chaos none the less.
At some point, the leader of the Bible study group addresses his or her group to bring order to the chaos. It is time to focus. For this reason, the first step in the group Bible study plans found in the Explore the Bible Adult Leader Guide is called “Focus Attention.” The suggestion helps the leader focus the group, establishing a direction for the rest of the group time. The group gains clues as to how the group will approach the Bible passage being examined that day, helping the group better understand where not to go (which may be just as important as knowing where to go).
The leader doesn’t need to wait until everyone has found their seat to focus the group’s attention. In fact, it would be best if he didn’t wait! The moment the first person arrives in the meeting room the focus can be established. In the first session for the Fall 2014 resources, leaders are encouraged to secure responses from the group to the question “Who is Jesus?” As each person arrives, they add to the conversation. The direction is set from the very beginning. Every minute of the scheduled group time must be used strategically. Directing the focus of the group as everyone arrives is the first step in wisely using the time allotted.
Look for the “Focus Attention” idea on the “Lead Group Time” section for each session in the Leader Guide. An alternate idea is also included under the “More Ideas” section for each session. The same approach is used in QuickSource in the Discussion Plan so these resources will work together. For more details on this resources, click the highlighted text.
G. Dwayne McCrary is the team leader for the Adult and Young Adult Explore the Bible teams, leads a weekly Bible study group for his church, an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and carries 20-plus years of church staff experience.