Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Groups of Grace

A few years ago, I was asked to lead a women's Bible study at the home of a friend.  Out of that group, another group sprung up that included our husbands and families.

It was a magical time.  Our family had just started working with a young man and it seemed to be the perfect thing for my husband and this young man to lead the Bible study together.  Through this, we saw God doing great things in this little group.  We saw lives being changed.  We saw our own lives being transformed also.

But things changed, and the group fizzled out--primarily because of the distance between our home and theirs.  But God planted a seed in our hearts of--what could be.. or what should be.

Fast forward a few years.  The young man grew up.  He has a family and home of his own now.  Our kids are growing up and capable of helping in the ministry.  But the little group continues on.  At the present, none of the original members are in the group, except our family.

But many new ones have come and are still coming.

And I am trying to get my head around what is the core difference between this group and other groups that we have been involved in.

And I have been reading this book that referenced the great revivals during the Wesley/ Whitfield era.  Yes, God used the preaching/teaching of these godly men.  But long before this preaching occurred, there were small "societies" of people gathering-- think "small groups" for Christian fellowship.  Their hearts were so prepared to hear the preaching because of what was occurring in these small groups.

And a lightbulb went on-- "that's it!!  That's exactly what we are trying to do here!!"

In the past, every other Bible study (that we've been exposed to) comes with an agenda attached to it.

An example of agenda-laden Bible studies are like this..  "now we are going to study the book of Acts.. (may or may not be overtly expressed) for the purpose of learning.. church truth"

Or--"now we are going to study xyz to expose the.. fornication, the taming of the tongue, or the lack of modesty..or rebellion or whatever in someone or something"

But do we ever just let the Scripture speak? My husband calls it "big idea Bible study"..  where we put aside our pre-understandings and just let the Word speak.

And AFTER we have (in community) discovered what the author intended/ what the Holy Spirit is teaching, it is only then that we make the personal applications to our lives.

And this is where GRACE comes in.  There might be confession, repentance, or real things that God is doing in the life of the individuals who come.

Grace allows it to happen.  Grace does not use these vulnerable moments to pounce on someone or offer a quick solution to the problem.  It's OK to let someone weep over their sins or their problems.

Sometimes we will allow someone the freedom to cry the entire meeting, if necessary.  I can remember two of us praying with a brother whose heart was breaking so much that he could not even tell us what was wrong.  It's O.K.

It's messy.  It's disorganized.  It's real.  There's no two meetings alike.  Sometimes everyone ends on a  high note with a strong desire to go "do something"..

It was like that this weekend.  My son invited one of his friends from school.  It was crazy how fast he fit in and felt comfortable sharing.

A lot of people probably wonder if this is a young people's Bible study.  It really isn't.   But young people seem to be attracted to "real-ness" of it all.  It's so much less churchy than anything they've been exposed to.  There's so much less pressure to conform to the acceptable practices. With a discovery method of Bible study, the participants bring as much to the table as the leaders do--sometimes a lot more!

The agenda-laden Bible study leaders are not comfortable with this, and most adults have usually come up with more than one agenda by this stage of life.  That is probably the only thing that hinders growth in a group like this.  Acknowledging our own personal agendas is a healthy thing--we all have them-- but we need to drop them at the door when we come to a group of grace.

And that, my friends, is the best way to describe what is going on in our little Bible study.

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