A few years ago, the church I was serving decided to offer Bible study anytime, anywhere. The year prior saw us steadily developing new leaders. Now the time felt right to step out in faith. We offered to provide Bible study anytime, anywhere a group wanted to meet. Our insert in Sunday’s bulletin projected a variety of times and locations for Bible studies, with a place for suggestions. Since a Tuesday night group met including preschool teachers and those working on Sundays, the possibility of other untapped opportunities surfaced.
Following our worship service, a member approached me asking “Are you serious about offering Bible study anytime and anywhere?” When I replied, “We would not have offered the opportunity had we not thought we could do it,” he proceeded to explain he wanted to start a 4:30 A.M. Bible study at a Denny’s restaurant near his house, excitedly adding, “I already have five construction workers interested!” Ultimately he became the teacher. The first Tuesday they met, he spotted a senior adult from church eating breakfast and asked him to join the group.
There are numerous reasons why someone might not be able to attend Bible study on a Sunday morning or, in the case of small groups, on a weeknight. We must see the big picture. More Bible study involvement could happen if church schedules were not so restricting. Over the years, I have seen classes offered on a rotating shift for mineworkers working rotating shifts and telephone Bible study classes for shut-ins. Classes have been on Sunday afternoon, at lunch during the week, before work in the morning and on a week night evening – meeting in mobile home parks, apartments, homes, offices, assisted living facilities, hotel rooms and work break rooms. I have been in churches with internet Bible study classes.
Here are a few tips to help you think through going Anytime, Anywhere:
1. Identify your opportunities – Broaden your focus by stepping back and taking in the whole picture. Who is in your church but not in a Bible study group? Why? What are people doing in your community when your Bible study groups are meeting? When and where might they be willing to meet?
2. Train the leaders – A church cannot go after the people until it is ready to provide the ministry. To start more Bible study groups a church will need a pool of trained leaders including teachers, outreach/ministry leaders, and prayer leaders. Usually, new groups are started with a team of leaders, not just a teacher.
3. Set goals to start groups – Set specific locations and times with your target group in mind for starting new groups. Campaigns are often more successful everyone in the church is working together to start new groups for a few weeks.
4. Go after the people – You’re ready launch your new groups or start your campaign! Success is having new groups launched and new people reached.
For additional insight into Anytime, Anywhere read pages 36-42 of Extreme Sunday School Challenge: Engaging Our World Through New Groups by Bruce Raley and David Francis.
Tom Belew has served as Small Groups and Childhood Specialist for the California Southern Baptist Convention since 2002. He previously served as Minister of Education in churches in Arizona and California.