My fourth The Sunday School Revolutionary! blog entry nearly two years ago was entitled Leading Attenders to Meet God in Bible Study, Part 1. In that five part series, I emphasized the importance of leading those present into an encounter with a living God. In the first two paragraphs, I said the following:
One of the hardest things for a teacher (or preacher) to do is to get out of the way in the teaching/preaching event. The aim is to lead hearers/attenders to experience God in Bible study. In order to do so, we must lead them to hear him, not just us. We must move from serving as teachers of the Word to facilitators of an experience.
Let me explain what I mean. As Henry Blackaby and Claude King in Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God point out, God desires a relationship that is real and personal. That goes beyond mere knowledge of the pages of the Bible to a daily encounter with Him. It involves Bible study (listening to God), prayer (talking to God), commitment (agreeing with God), and obedience (walking with God).
How can you open God’s Word for the group in such a way that you are able to facilitate an encounter with God Himself? Too often, we as teachers/pastors are trying to do Bible study for them when we need to be leading them to practice and understand how to do so for themselves. Stop telling them what the passage said! Instead, open God’s Word and let Him speak for himself!
I done this in a variety of ways with Sunday School classes and small groups over the years. With a large group, I divided them into horseshoes of six chairs (circle with one end open). With small groups, I have divided them into pairs and groups of three or four. At times, I have done this with the entire small class or group. What? How can this be done?
I have found that it is more difficult in a large group. That is why I tend to break down large groups into smaller ones. You see, I find that involvement is almost unanimous in a group of up to six people. If we want them to meet God, we must get them involved in personal Bible study (even in the group session). They need to be led to examine God’s Word themselves.
This can be done in a variety of ways. I have given individuals, subgroups, and small groups written or verbal assignments. These often included short passages of scripture along with questions about the passage leading them to examine the truth God communicated with the original audience. And I always worked to lead them to seek to understand what God wanted from them. What was God saying to them? What does He want them to do or be? What response does He expect? How could they be obedient?
Examine what happens in your group. How could you adjust your process to lead participants to meet God in His Word? How can you lead them to do Bible study for themselves? The effort to do so is well worth the effort. It results in personal life-change as the meet God in Bible study. Pray. Encounter God in His Word before you lead the group to do the same. Be revolutionary!