“I have a small group tonight and you should be there!” “We prayed for you at small group last night.”
These are a few lines that we can so often hear within Christian circles either at church or within a campus ministry. The heart behind these things is good, but many times, there are many preconceived notions with “small group” or “Bible study” that can sometimes create expectations of what that time is supposed to look like. You can read a passage for an hour and then discuss for 30 minutes. You can have “life updates” and then sing some songs, eat some food, and read the Bible. Whatever it is, there can be a lot of thoughts based off of our experiences with church.
I will be the first to say that time in small groups and Bible studies are an integral part of the church and so vital to a healthy church. You get to know people in a deeper, more intimate way. You study God’s Word in an environment that is conducive for growing in knowledge and intimacy. But, many times, we can get caught in the routine of what Bible Study should look like that we so often forget that those times can be something that leads us to freedom in Jesus Christ. Freedom to sing more than 3 worship songs, freedom to share what the Lord is teaching you, freedom to speak into someones life encouraging words, freedom to focus on a few verses rather than a whole chapter, or freedom to focus on 3 chapters instead of 1 verse.
As a planner, I enjoy when, obviously, things go as I planned. But the question I would ask myself is this: “Am I gripping my plans so tightly that if the Lord wanted to lead a time of small group in a different direction, would I listen and respond?”
For the past month, I’ve been meeting with Nate and Jordann Deacon, our two youth high school leaders, about creating an environment where kids are stretched in their faith as they grow in community with one another. With a consistent number of underclassmen, we decided to launch a high school small group. Through meetings covered in prayer and deeper conversations, our desire is to have kids grow in their relationships with each other and in their relationship with Jesus. Through time of song, breaking bread together, and looking deeper into God’s word, we got excited with what the Lord could do! Our prayer for that time is that the Lord would allow kids to experience freedom that only comes through Jesus. If the Holy Spirit is moving to keep singing songs, then it might be a time of song for more than the 3 song model! If the Lord is moving Nate and Jordann to spend the whole time in God’s word, then do it! As followers of Jesus, sometimes our plans can get in the way of what Jesus wants to do in our hearts and lives. My prayer for the high school small group is that there would be an environment where they can come where chains on their life are broken as they grow in intimacy with their Maker.