Helping your Group Know God Through His Word
One of the significant milestones in my faith came during my senior year in college. I was at the bottom of an eighteen-month spiral that began with a career-ending football injury. As I sat across the table from my younger brother, Caleb, at a local steakhouse, I remember clearly the words of truth he spoke to me about the dangers of the sinful life I was living and the desire of a loving God to see me return to Him. Over the course of the next year, God began transforming my life. By His grace, that transformation continues to this day. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that I desperately needed to know God, and in order to know Him, I needed to know His Word.
We have the great privilege as small group leaders of encouraging our people to open the Bible, with each other and individually, to see God revealed and our lives transformed through his Word. However, as you have probably experienced both in your own life and in the lives of your group members, there is no shortage of barriers and obstacles that prevent us from spending time in the Word. With this in mind, here are ways to encourage your group to pursue God through his Word this year.
One of the greatest gifts we have been given is direct access to God through prayer. Do you lack the motivation to read the Bible constantly? Ask God for his help! Do you struggle to understand what you’re reading? Ask God for his help! Scripture reminds us that God not only hears but desires to answer our prayers according to his will. So ask him and keep asking! John Piper encouraged his church members to “Read the Bible praying, ‘Father, hold my mind’s attention. Wake my heart’s affection. Speak for your glory and my holy joy.’” I wrote this prayer in the front cover of my Bible and start there before I read my Bible. It’s a simple prayer that reminds me of my dependence on God. Beginning with prayer not only strengthens communion with God but it helps us fight the temptations of sleep, distraction, busyness, apathy, or anything else as a reason to miss out on knowing God through the Bible. Praying specifically about this in your group time might be one way to grow in your pursuit of God through his Word together.
2) PLAN WITH THE LONG VIEW IN MIND
Reading through the entire Bible is a large task for sure. As you are developing the habit of spending time in God’s Word, one thing I have found helpful is to find a plan that works for where I am today, not the idealistic version of me that reads undistracted for hours on end in deep communion with God. (With three kids under six, I don’t remember the last time I’ve done anything for hours on end!) That might be a Bible study of a specific book, reading a chapter a day, or reading a few verses a day and meditating on what you’ve read. I’m currently listing to the Bible via the Dwell App and have loved hearing scripture read aloud each day.
Along with a plan, identify a time and a place (add it to your calendar) where you will put the pressures and distractions on hold and spend time in the Word. Then, give yourself some grace when those plans inevitably get rearranged and start again tomorrow! As a group, encouraging one another in your pursuit of God through his Word is something you should consider talking about often. Normalize those conversations as a means of helping each other grow in this area.
3) PUT IT INTO PRACTICE TOGETHER
This one probably seems obvious, but put your plan into practice. The goal of reading the Bible is not about perfection. A great way to encourage your group in their Bible reading is to remind them to keep pressing on! I’ve shared the following in different ways with our community over the years,
There will be days that you won’t read. There will be days that you do read, but you might as well not have because of distractions. But there will also be days when the Spirit of God illuminates your heart and mind to the text, and you will be drawn to worship and transformed even more into the image of your creator as you begin to know God through his Word! Fight for those days!