The Purging Lutheran operated a Bible study group for about 16 or 17 years. It took a while to figure out some things such as …
Q1. when to run the small group
Q2. where to meet
Q3. how to go about teaching a small group but most importantly
Q4. why run a small group?
A1. When to meet was determined when most people could meet. With kids playing sports and families involved in life itself we tended to ping pong with Friday and Saturday evenings. You got no group to run if you got no people to teach.
A2. We usually met at homes where the most kids were or whoever was in charge of dinner. Food never fails.
A3. Dzippers! It took me three or four years to learn how to run a Bible study. Do we use pre-written study guides? Yeah, but after the first two or so you find out they aren’t very intriguing. I’m simplifying this, of course, but a typical question would be reading about the death of Jesus’ good friend, Lazarus. The Bible says,
The following type questions would be
“Who wept?” Or “ What did Jesus do?”
There is nothing inherently wrong with them except they don’t ask you to ‘dig deep’ for an answer. Not all questions are like that but I think you get the gist of it.
After a couple years I took it on myself to write my own studies. We took five years to cover The Gospel of Luke, did a study on the Didache (the earliest catechism for want of a brief description). Look it up at wimplepedya, they’ls tells ya. We covered other books and topics. We studied Ruth, had Biblical trivia contests but never held a “walls of Jericho demolition derby”. Rats.
A4. And, finally, why run a small group? In the beginning it seemed like a fun way to meet people and make friends. That worked for the most part. Members come and go. Sometimes it hurt, sometimes not. As time went on I found it a good opportunity to stretch the bounds of what we were learning at service. I wanted to learn and teach what interested me and hoped would be as well to others. Subjects like Luke and Didache, to name two, were fun to dive into BUT most importantly was to take every study seriously.
Peter 3:1 has always been a guiding light for me –
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
This verse helped me to focus on the importance of what we studied every time we met. I enjoyed looking up little knick-knacky things, usually cultural tidbits which explained why people of the Bible did what they did. So, I bought a lot of books, spoke to the pastors often, read commentaries, listened to tapes, watched videos and read the Bible to be best prepared. Most of the time Bible studies were just fine. We’d break bread, talk, pray, study, pray some more and sometimes even sing, if Jose would allow it. Other times felt like disasters. Since I’m a ‘glass-mostly-empty’ kind of guy anyway, I’d beat myself up for mistakes. There’s nothing quite like the members staring at you wondering what you’re trying to get across. A flubbed effort made me feel like a sailor in Robert Shaw’s U.S.S. Indianapolis speech in the film, Jaws.
Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces.
And that’s the life of a small group ministry leader. Beware!
Anyhop, back to this purge. This book contained questions which were and weren’t relevant to the peeps in the VSG. Not a real question but the kind of question you could find in it was something like this
“You are standing in a checkout lane behind a woman who is $1.03 short of cash and fumbling through her pocketbook searching for the rest. It’s obvious she doesn’t have it and you get irritated. You think you’ll switch lanes and as you turn around Jesus is behind you waiting to pay for a bag of Tostitos and a jar of salsa for youth group that evening. What do you do?”
Actually, that’d be a pretty cool question but the answer (at least in our group because we’re cheap) is obvious – you let Jesus cut in front of you hoping He’ll make the $1.03 appear in the bag of grapes just rung up.*
I decided I could ask more poignant questions surrounding our lives and topics of the day. One such opening question would be:
Who in the city makes the best fries?
Huh. I’ve sat here for 10 minutes and cannot remember any of our other ‘starter’ questions. I’m certain I will remember a bunch the moment I tap ‘publish’. No matter. Our small group disbanded almost two years ago so I am taking the books I used for the V(my last name) Small Group to a nice lady who operates a Christian book shop in Noblesville. Let her profit from them.
41-44 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
*cue MSR “eye-roll”