In the days following the announcements of the 2020-21 College Football Bowl games, several teams had to back out of their invitations because of excessive positive COVID tests. The organizers of the Liberty Bowl reached out to the Army Black Knights after one of the teams they had initially invited backed out. Army had expected a bowl bid but were left out for lack of an opponent when invitations were issued. The team chose to continue practicing with the hope of being invited to a bowl game as an alternate. They were ready to accept the invitation when it came on that Monday afternoon from the Liberty Bowl officials.
This scenario typified the Black Knights’s season. When football practice began in May, the coaches and players were unsure of who they would play and when. The rally cry for the team and coaches became “Don’t Plan. Prepare.” They realized some things were beyond their control but being prepared was not one of them.
For most of us who lead a Bible study group or oversee the Bible study ministry in our church, we can sympathize with the Army football team. As hard as we may try, our plans over the past year were really hopes disguised as plans. As soon as one plan was in place, a new factor forced us to scrap those plans and began again. Some of those factors were and are beyond our control but that does not mean we can not prepare.
There will be a day when our Bible study groups can safely meet again. Preschoolers will be able to build with blocks while teachers talk about Jericho and God’s power. Kids will be able to sit with other kids and share markers while illustrating a Bible story. Students will be able to place markers on a map as they study the movements of the Hebrews on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Adults will be able to discuss how God demonstrates His power today while sitting in a circle with other adults. That day will come. We just don’t know when.
So what do we do? We can hold tight and wait for that day to come or we can take the approach of the Black Knights and start preparing. We can prepare our teachers and leaders for that day, knowing that many will be rusty from either not teaching or not teaching face-to-face. We can recruit new teachers and leaders so we can create new groups and focus on establishing smaller groups as the norm. We can help people understand the importance of being in a Bible study group…one that is local and allows for interaction. We can help our current leaders stay in touch with the people in their current group, reminding them of the importance of every person on their ministry list. There is much we can do to prepare for THAT day.
Some may view preparing without a plan as a waste of time. Moses can help us here. Moses knew that he would approach Pharoah and would lead the people to the promised land. He was given a task but not a full plan beyond simply trusting God. We see this in Genesis 18 when Jethro gave Moses a plan for creating a judicial system for the people. If there were 2 million people involved in the exodus (some say less and some say more but this number is a fair target based on the census in Numbers 1), then Moses would have needed to recruit 262,000 people to fill those positions. He would need to train them and provide them with the tools needed to do their work. For Moses it was all about preparing the people for THAT day; the day when they stepped into the promised land. Remember, timetables for getting there were not clear until after the rebellion following the spies’ report at Kadesh-barnea, and even then it became about preparing the next generation to possess the land.
One tool that may help us prepare for THAT day (the day we restart all our Bible study groups) is the Explore the Bible Guide to Reengagement. The guide offers steps we can take as we lead our groups to reengage with each other and the community. Some of the actions listed above are included, plus other actions that will help us prepare for that day. A variety of resources and links are included in the document that will help us work through the steps. That day may be different for each of us but we can prepare in anticipation of that day coming.
What actions are you taking in preparation for the day that all your ongoing Bible study groups can and will meet again?