Preparation is essential for group time to be effective and life-changing. Let me countdown these three steps in reverse time order and in priority:
3. Rest Well and Arrive Early
Invest well the 167 hours between group meetings. Continue learning beyond group time. Lead them to apply the truth from group time. Help them prepare well for the next gathering.
Prior to the group meeting, rest well so you can give God and His people your best effort. Avoid being tired. Pray. Look over the scripture and your notes. Gather any supplies needed. Arrive early to the meeting space. Prepare the space as needed.
Prayerwalk the space. Pray for the group and for God to use the time. Greet people as they arrive. Give them your full attention. Listen. Look them in the eyes. Follow up individually on prayer requests.
2. Prepare to Lead the Group to Meet God in Bible Study
Prepare as if Jesus will be there. Where two or three are gathered, He will be! (Matthew 18:20) Start early. Invest daily in preparation.
Keep in mind that your example matters. Spend time daily in a quiet time of prayer and Bible study. Read the scripture several times. Consider how the truth of the passage applies to life today and to individuals in your group. Focus on the needs of two different group members each week.
Consider the best methods for leading the group to encounter God in Bible study. What are the best methods to lead them to examine context, scripture, and application? How can you create interest in the passage, topic, or truth for the day? How can you get their minds in the room and on God? How can you get them talking, thinking, and owning the encounter with God in His Word? Write out your plan.
1. Encounter God in His Word Personally
- The first encounter is the time the teacher has set aside to meet God in Bible study. It is the teacher’s experience with God resulting in personal change. The encounter is more important than the lesson.
- The first encounter begins with a living, growing relationship with God. It is a desire to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study. It is a longing to listen to Him and personally follow where He leads.
- As a result of a love relationship with God, the teacher yearns to meet God, recognize who He is, and respond in worship and obedience. Without an encounter, the best the teacher can do is to testify about what was learned.
- For the teacher, time with God is the lesson. The first encounter is the time God uses to prepare a teacher to guide others through the landscape of His Word and the truth contained therein that learners need to hear and obey.
- The four steps to an encountering relationship with God include (1) Bible study–listening to Him; (2) Prayer–responding/talking to Him; (3) Commitment–agreeing with/committing to follow Him; and (4) Obedience–walking with Him.
How can you adjust your preparation to allow God to speak to you first and to be prepared fully for Him to use you to guide group time? Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
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