by David Apple
There are admittedly many Bible study groups that are sick or dying. We could take the time to investigate symptoms and reasons a once healthy group slips into discouragement, dysfunction, or disrepair. Oftentimes we classify a group as sick or dying because of a lack of strategic focus, “sin in the camp,” or loss of attenders. No matter what has caused a group to become sick or dying, let’s highlight three ingredients that can help a group come back to life and to experience good health.
Sick and dying groups can come back to life:
- With renewed purpose. Every Bible study group is designed to focus on and celebrate ways God works through His Word, through reaching and ministering to people in the community, and in making disciples. Most groups start out being outward focused where we intentionally have room, resources, and resolve to include new people. Many groups become inward focused where we are more interested in meeting our own needs than in expressing the ministry of the Gospel to others. God works through His people who intentionally serve Him as they seek individuals to engage in and apply His Word. We will always have fields that are white unto harvest. God knows what He is doing when He moves people and people groups in and out of our field of service. If people do not come to us, certainly we need to go to them! Your group can intentionally refocus with new target group(s) and new or renewed workers.
- With repentance. God always invites and expects His people to adjust back to letting Him work through individuals and through the group for the sake of His Kingdom. Prayer, obedience, and humility before the Lord are vital aspects of a healthy group of believers. One of the key words in our restored “health” is “adjusting.” One of the key realities of God’s Word is that God is at work, and He invites us to join Him at work. We must remember that we work for Him rather than that He works for us.
- With rejoicing. We experience renewed health and life when we acknowledge that God is at work in and through our group. God allows us to experience divine appointments, and we get to call attention to God’s work and His timing when we benefit from it or not. Health comes from the Lord, and we celebrate what only God can do. Discipleship comes when God works in and through us. We can celebrate ways He trains, corrects, and stretches us for the sake of the Kingdom. What if only a few people join us as we study, minister, or share together in Christian fellowship? We get to celebrate that we are part of His great Kingdom work. We also get to celebrate as God gives opportunity for people to leave our group and serve elsewhere in His field.
Will you be part of renewed purpose, repentance, and rejoicing?
David Apple is a Ministry Specialist at LifeWay since 1985 where he develops and leads training experiences for volunteers and staff who work with Adults. David serves as a Pastor and Bible teacher; he also volunteers weekly with inmates on death row in a maximum security prison. David is married to Karen, Dad to Ben and Christine, and Poppi to Madison, Wilson, and Miles.