A common struggle that Community Group Leader’s face is feeling confident in their understanding of the Bible. Obviously, this is a complicated issue…there are many reasons and corresponding remedies for this. In order to get you started on the right track, however, we want to offer you three simple things that will produce immediate results. Not only will you get more out of your reading, but it will energize your spiritual life and cause others to take notice.
Practice #1: Slow Down
The reality is, many of us lead very busy, rushed lifestyles. This can be problematic in a number of ways of course, especially if it is our norm. But, if we are going to be honest, it is not the best approach when it comes to preparing for spiritual growth in our Community Group. We should slow down in at least two ways: one, we should schedule ourselves with ample time to study the Bible text. In other words, we need to actually enter the study time into our personal calendar. And then we need to guard it like it is treasure. Two, when we read the Bible passage, we need to read it slow enough so that nothing escapes our attention. This is especially true with passages that you are already familiar with. For instance, one group leader was recently reading the story in Mark 5 about Jesus’ healing of the man possessed by a legion of demons. In that story, the demons recognize Jesus and actually cry out using God’s name for Jesus’ mercy. He hadn’t noticed this before. It is actually somewhat amusing (and yet very poignant) that the ones who have rejected God, when in trouble, still appeal to God for His help. This group leader might not have noticed that fact if he had sped through this passage (that he had literally read many, many times).
Practice #2: Dig In
Since you have slowed down, you might as well take the time to do your best to truly understand the passage. There is not time enough here to fully cover every detail that could possibly be done. Obviously, every leader’s training in how to understand the Bible is not identical…some have more, some have less. Nonetheless, there is one thing that everyone should do regardless of depth and breadth of biblical knowledge: find reliable commentators. No matter how far you have ventured in your biblical education, it is always imperative to have those who have gone further than you, whose thoughts you can utterly trust. Often, these commentators come in book form, but they can also be found online (be very careful/picky—there is a lot of bad/incorrect teaching out there) or perhaps best of all, in an actual person whom you can converse with face to face. Whose biblical knowledge and understanding do you respect right now? Be brave and ask them if they would be willing to be your resource. Odds are, they will say yes. This is what they love to do.
Practice #3: Enter the Story
Once you have slowed down and dug in to mine the truth of the passage, in order to make the passage relevant to your group, it is necessary to enter into the story for yourself. This is true whether it is a gospel, a narrative, a letter, or poetry. The way to do this is simple: ask yourself “How would the original audience have understood this?” It is generally a mistake to jump over this step. When we do, we risk being anachronistic (taking things from our time and injecting them into their time, as if they thought and acted like we do today). When we do our best to enter into the story, as one of the original hearers, the passage will come to life in ways that we otherwise do not see.
We hope you will try practicing all three of these suggestions. If you find that you still need help, please do not hesitate in contacting your campus' Community Team.