One of the best ways to help people discover and deepen a relationship with Jesus Christ is through a Bible reading group—a small group of friends who meet together to read the Bible and reflect on its message and relevance to their lives.
Many have found it is possible to bring together a mix of people who are at different places in the spiritual journey. All can be learners, but not all may be Christians. By beginning with a few friends who have faith in Christ, and then planting the idea with your non-Christian friends that they might enjoy the group as well, you encourage a spirit of mutuality rather than “them and us.”
Why reading rather than study groups? Sometimes “study” doesn’t connect well with people in our postmodern times. It can trigger connotations of precision, facts, and definitions to a generation more comfortable with ambiguity, intuition, and flexibility.
Why in a group? For an increasing number of people it’s more motivating to read in a group. Plus the different thoughts and ideas that come up in a group help people to form their opinions. As friendships deepen, people feel an increasing freedom to share personal and specific needs.
Here are some elements that have been found to be important in such a group:
- Life context: The movement of the discussion is from life issues to reading the Bible to “letting the Bible read” each person and the life they live.
- Scriptures: Through the Bible, people of every generation can encounter the living God.
- Community: Over time, the group can become a safe place where people can share their fears, blind spots, and biases.
- Fun and atmosphere: Where the group meets and the sharing of meals can significantly contribute to the appeal of the meeting.
- Regularity: Try meeting every two weeks. More than this cannot be sustained, and any less lacks continuity.
- Size: Invite between eight and 12 people. This allows for participation but also means that when some people are absent the group can continue to meet.
As you meet, tell your friends the context and background of the passage you are reading. Remember the uniqueness of the Bible. Pray and rest in the reality that the Holy Spirit is at work in His mysterious ways and according to His timing.
From Reading Groups by Mike Shamy. Used with permission.