One of the first things I remember being told in cluster leader training (clusters were prototype Missional Communities back in the day), was to avoid the temptation of letting them just become a group bible study and make sure they stayed ‘Out’ focussed. That’s still very important.
But, if we’re serious about growing as disciples, and seeing others discipled through our communities, then we’re going to have to be serious about getting into scripture together too. So how do you get your community into the bible, without turning your community into a bible study group?
One of the things we’ve found most helpful, is to focus effort on getting core members of the community excited about studying the same bits of the bible on their own or in twos and threes. When this works it means that the whole community is reading and thinking about the same things, and so you have natural things to talk about and wrestle through when you get together.
One time we set each other a challenge, to read the New Testament all the way through one summer. One of our resident geeks set up an online table so we could check when we’d done our reading and keep each other accountable. It became competitive not to fall behind, and really helped us chew over scripture together (I should say we tried this with the Old Testament as well, but found it a lot harder to keep going) and provide a catalyst for a number of us going deeper with God.
Other times we’ve read through Christian books together and then come to discuss them as though in a book group. This can work well, especially if it’s a book full of bible references. (Mike Breen’s Covenant and Kingdom might be a good one to do for a short season).
With our community right now we’re using the Old and New Testament readings from the Anglican lectionary (although we don’t tell people that’s where we got it.) You could also use the 3dm daily devotionals, or there are many other similar online devotional guides.
We’ve found that it is far easier to get people into reading God’s book when you approach it as a community. We’ve also found starting this works really well when your community is in more of a relaxed and restful season.
How have you got your community passionate about getting into the bible?
Ben Askew lives in Deal, in the far south-east of England. He is married to the beautiful and talented Helen and they have two children. Ben and Helen have been involved in leading missional communities for the last 10 years and are particularly passionate about seeing the emerging generations discover God’s love. Right now they are working for a church in Deal while Ben is also training for ordination. You can connect with him more at benaskew.tumblr.com.
(The brilliant photo is by Matthew Kirkland and was found on flickr)