Each fall, my church intensifies its small group promotion, encouraging all of our church members to “come out of a row and form a circle.” It’s a good idea – to go from a passive church attendant (just sitting in the row on Sunday morning) to an active Bible study participant (introducing yourself to a small group of other worshipers) – but it does can also be intimidating.
Many women have a lot of demands on their time. Many women also have different feelings about the church, the faith, and the Bible. These two things can make us wonder if this is really the best time to join this small group… or Next time maybe.
As someone who has been involved in different types of ministries, small groups, and churches over the years, I have come to realize the beauty and power of being connected to a kind of tight-knit community and in a small group. It is unlike anything else in the church (or even the world, I would say!) And I’m here to encourage you to step out of that row and into a new circle today.
Shannon Popkin recently asked “Should You Join a Women’s Bible Study?” In an article for Revive Our Hearts, and she offers three useful points to consider if you have the same question.
- “The days are long, but the years are short.” I know a lot of moms who totally agree with this sentiment, and even though I’m not a mom myself, I know how true it is. I am constantly amazed at how quickly the calendar pages seem to be turning and have a feeling that time isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Recently, in a small group that I have been a part of for a year now, we took the time to create a list of “15 futures” of things we wanted to accomplish, do, or have in our lives in 30 years. The mission opened my eyes in so many ways, and I realized that even though 30 years might seem like a long time ago to me right now, it will be there in the blink of an eye, and I want to make the most of that time for that I can. “There’s something about looking forward to the end and then thinking back that helps keep things in perspective,” Popkin writes. “What kind of wife, mother, sister, employee or friend do I want to be at the end of this year? And the end of this decade? What will help me get there?“
- “Wisdom is formed in groups. “ When I think back to who I was when I signed up to be a part of this little group a year ago and compare this image to who I am now, the change is noticeable in so many ways. Their encouragement, support, love, tough questions and wise advice have shaped me over the weeks and months and had an impact on me which I know will continue over time. “Your Bible is filled with wisdom,” Popkin shares, “but God designed this wisdom to be three-dimensional, displayed in the lives of others. Now, I can’t promise you that everyone in your Bible study group will be wise, but if you are looking for wise women, a Bible study is a great place to start.
- “The Church is not meant to be virtual.“We’re more connected than ever online, connecting and chatting with friends near and far, even those we haven’t met in real life. While technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there is something about sharing physical space with other women that cannot be replicated in virtual spaces. “Signing up for a Bible study is like having coffee rather than reading a blog post. It’s more personal and it’s a bigger commitment, ”Popkin explains. “It will cost you more time and relational energy. But success in the Christian life is achieved as a group, not just as individuals. On my own, I quickly became discouraged, deceived and distracted. But when my group comes together to refresh each other’s faith, remember the truth, and pray together to overcome struggles, it’s like a weekly reorientation. You just can’t get this online the same way.
I encourage you to take the time to prayerfully consider joining a small group, Bible study group, book club, or ministry team through your church. Even if your schedule seems full and you feel too busy to add something more to your plate, open your heart and mind to the idea that the Lord may be calling you to live with other women in your community at through a committed study or a small group.
There is so much good to be gained when we intentionally present ourselves to be together cohesively, when we are faithful to one another as the Lord is faithful to us. There is growth to be had, wisdom to be shared and connection to be made… and all we have to do is show ourselves open to the Spirit and to each other.
Photo credit: © Thinkstock-m-gucci
Publication date: August 7, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the editor-in-chief of Crosswalk.com.