We had our first evening Bible study at a local pub. I believe that studying the Bible off church grounds is important. The Bible message sounds more relevant when reading it out in the world. Why not a pub? This isn’t a normal pub – it’s brand new and located inside of St. Paul’s Senior Home.
Thanks to the Bible study, my not-so-covert plan of establishing a relationship between Saint John’s and St. Paul’s is working. Several folks from St. Paul’s have asked if their residents can attend next week. I told them all – residents, employees or guests – are welcome and even encouraged to attend. It seems that my devious plan is working.
The evening started with just three of us but quickly ballooned to twenty! It was exciting to be a part of a large group that wants to study the Bible.
I explained that I would lead on our first night but after that I will provide material for someone to lead each of the next four weeks. After all, the best way to learn something is to teach it. I’ve felt the presence of the Holy Spirit strongest when I step out to lead and many others have said the same thing. Whether they get up to make an announcement, ask for a birthday blessing, deliver a message, or to tutor or to teach in the school, despite anxiety, if they have any, the reward is feeling much closer to God.
We are using a group Bible study book that sheds light on each story and includes questions for the group to ponder. The leader simply reads the passage from Genesis and then walks the group through a reflection on the passage and then leads the questions. Nevertheless, disappointment registered on some faces – like they were there to learn from me.
After our study was over, I was relishing the size of the group and basking in the desire some had to have me teach them. It frankly fed my ego. But right then and there, standing in my bedroom closet, a clear message came to me. YOU ARE TO RAISE UP AND EQUIP OTHERS TO LEAD – TO TRAIN, NOT ENTERTAIN.
Oh, I thought, that was pretty clear. But God was still not done speaking.
That night I had an interesting dream about entertainment on television and eating at church. The next morning, I sat down with a parishioner who connected things for me by talking about some much larger, non-Episcopal churches. This person said they have lights, smoke, loud rock n ’roll music but all they seem to do is entertain.
I love it when God speaks through parishioners. And my response to God is this, okay, I get it.
Jesus promised Peter that if he followed he would become a fisher of people. I imagine that later on Peter told others the same thing – if you choose to follow Jesus, you will lead and learn.
So, I’ll stick with the original plan and have a different person take the lead each week. I am confident that by following what God transmitted to me that we’ll be equipping others to follow Christ. Ironically, in many ways for me sitting back and being in the group is a way to lead.