Small group Bible studies are not just a great idea. They are a biblical idea. From the moment the New Testament church was founded, core to its identity was small bands of Christians meeting together and studying God’s word (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 17:11, Colossians 3:16, Colossians 4:15).
Of course small group Bible studies are not as important as the actual church and what happens Sunday morning. And there are certainly other effective formats that fulfill the church’s obligation to teach its members outside of Sunday morning (classes, support groups, one-on-one discipleship, etc.). But one of the clearest signs of a healthy church is a healthy small group Bible study ministry.
I believe if you want a healthy small group ministry, it all starts with having great small group leaders. So how can you be a great small group leader? Or if you’re in church leadership and are looking for great small group leaders, what are some signs to consider?
What follows is not an exhaustive list or one ranked by importance. It is simply a list of 24 keys to being a great small group leader.
And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. – Acts 11:26
The word “Christian” is nowhere used in the Bible as anything other than a noun. However, in American culture we constantly use “Christian” as an adjective or adverb to describe things such as music, movies, books, character, charitable acts, and so many other things. The great danger in this is the temptation to replace our genuine faith in Christ with traditions steeped in culture rather than God’s everlasting truth.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29
Jesus spoke to the masses, he visited towns because that’s where the people were, and every Christian is told to make disciples of all nations. Like Jesus, to love well, we must go where the people are.
When Paul visited Athens, he spent his time in the marketplace where the Athenians “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21). By roaming the city streets, Paul gathered precious info about their pagan beliefs, thus giving himself a better opportunity to share the gospel in the most effective way possible (Acts 17:22-23).
So where are the people today? Where do they “spend their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas”? Where can we go to better understand their beliefs, culture, and current trends with the hope of giving ourselves the best opportunity to present the gospel most effectively?
And Jesus said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I have come.” Mark 1:38
In response to growing up in a dead church environment where the deeds often didn’t match the words, there is a movement in the American Church towards emphasizing social justice. If you ask most people about why they don’t like Christianity, hypocrisy is the number one answer. Nobody wants to be fake. It makes sense, then, of why Christians are seeking to live out their faith by helping the poor and less fortunate (besides the biblical command to do so).
This is right. Jesus clearly healed the sick, provided food for the hungry, and had a special affection for orphans and widows due to their helplessness. James 1:22, 27 states, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. . . . Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Jesus Actually Healed Less So He Could Preach More
With all of that said, helping people with their physical needs is not the main point of Christianity.
Does the Bible say we should not care what others think about us? No, but it does say we must seek to please God over people.
As every Christian matures, one of the things the Holy Spirit will surely convict us of is seeking the praise of man over God. In our sinful nature, we care about what others think of us for the wrong reasons.
Caring What Others Think of You Can Be Expressed Wrongly in Two Ways
When we seek the praise of people, it can be expressed in many different ways. The two ends of the spectrum are obsessive pursuit and obsessive avoidance. One person may do anything to be praised by people, while another person will do anything not to be seen by people, but both can have the same root issue – caring too much about what people think of them.
Taking orders is difficult. Like players yelling at the officials in a sports competition, our natural reaction is to rebel against anyone who may exercise their authority over us. When a professor gives us poor marks on a paper we thought was top quality, we instantly feel the need to attack them verbally behind their backs not because we disagree so much but because we despise the idea of the professor being able to do what she likes to our paper.
Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.-2 Chronicles 16:7
Does the Bible say that the ends justify the means? In other words, does God care about what we accomplish for him, how we accomplish it, or both? The Bible is very clear that in God’s eyes, the ends never justify sinful means.
In part 1 of this blog series called, “How to be used mightily by God,” we learned that Jesus prepared Peter to be used in great ways by reminding him of his need to listen to Jesus.
Through comparing John 21:1-19 and Luke 5:1-11, we saw how Jesus had to repair the damage Peter had done to himself when he betrayed Jesus. The way Jesus did this was by reminding Peter of how their relationship had begun in the first place.
In part 2 of “How to be used mightily by God” we will talk about three more prerequisite actions Jesus helped Peter do to be prepared for God using him. If we prepare in these three ways as well, God will use us for his purposes.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Young children are so simple minded, but man can they create confusion in our lives. As fathers, obviously we are smarter, stronger, and more capable in every way than our young children. So why does it seem like they are always winning the war?
Well, maybe “war” is a bit strong. But all fathers of young children know there really are plenty of parenting battles throughout week, and it can be hard to know if we are doing a good job or not. Thankfully the Bible gives us some really specific advice on what our goals as fathers should be.
Ephesians 6:4 is one of the most specific verses given directly to fathers. So let’s unpack what Ephesians 6:4 means for fathers of young children.
Most Christians desire to give biblical counsel to those in need. Christians have been given amazing insight to humanities’ problems through the wisdom of God found within the Bible. But knowing the truth and counseling other people to understand the truth are entirely different.
So here are 3 tips for Christians who desire to offer biblical counsel to those in need.
Tip 1: Christians Must Show They Care Before They Offer Biblical Counsel
During my years as a pastor, I had a reoccurring experience while counseling people at public places like coffee shops or restaurants. I would be right in the middle of offering biblical counsel to someone and a nearby Christian who neither of us knew would over hear our conversation and chime in with their thoughts.