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We had a great time in Bible study Wednesday night. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Rev. Annie’s presentation of the Gospel of John, over the last few weeks. My only regret is that we haven’t had more members and friends present for the experience. My intent is not to fuss or scold. I would just like to say a few words to gently encourage those who can to think about coming out for our Book & Bible study.
Most of us accept that, in order to be our best at most things, we must invest significant time and effort into it. We go to school, we rehearse or practice - we do what it takes to broaden our knowledge, or strengthen our muscles, or hone our skills. We may have natural gifts, talents, and aptitudes in certain areas; but we realize that there is always room for growth. So we invest in nurturing, developing and refining those aspects of ourselves where we really want to shine.
I think that also applies to our Christian discipleship. Nothing is required of us except faith, in order to be Christians. But there is always room for growth as disciples of Jesus; and if we want to be the best we can be and let our lights shine as brightly as they can, some investment in our spiritual growth is necessary. And when it comes to this, I suggest, more is more.
… there is always room for growth as disciples of Jesus; and if we want to be the best we can be and let our lights shine as brightly as they can, some investment in our spiritual growth is necessary…
See here’s the thing: Sunday worship is one kind of experience. Book & Bible study (B&B) is another; an entirely different kind of experience with great value all its own. The big difference is that B&B is interactive. You don’t just sit and listen as you would to a sermon. You get to interact with the facilitator, with the group, and with the text the group is studying. You get to ask questions. You are asked questions designed to stimulate introspective thinking. B&B is a small group experience that allows for mutual ministry among those who attend. That, in turn, promotes both spiritual growth and the deepening of the relationships of those who attend.
We actually get to know each other better in Book & Bible study. As we discuss the material, we share bits and pieces of our experience and we have the opportunity to hear each other’s hearts in a way that does not happen in worship. Granted, this is a form of self-exposure that some might find a bit daunting initially. You will find that we do everything possible to make B&B “safe space” for sharing. We have standing covenants around respectful speaking and listening, confidentiality, and absolutely NO judging the feelings and expressions of others. There is never any pressure to speak before one is ready or to answer any questions or share anything that you’d rather not. It just seems to happen naturally that, in this more intimate setting, we are able to open up with each other. So not only are our relationships with God strengthened; our relationships with each other are, too.
Our Book & Bible studies are holy conversations; which I define as conversations in which we invite and welcome the active participation of the Holy Spirit.
Our Book & Bible studies are holy conversations; which I define as conversations in which we invite and welcome the active participation of the Holy Spirit. And Spirit is faithful - just as in worship - to show up and often in ways that surprise us! You just never know who Spirit will choose to use to speak a word or share an insight that ministers to the whole group.
Imani is not unique insofar as only a small percentage of active worshippers come out for Book & Bible study. I have seen that in every church I’ve attended. And I know that many people have inflexible schedules, circumstances, and reasons why they cannot attend. But let’s get real - that is not the case for everyone. For many, it is a simple matter of choice not to come out for week-night church activities. That is the choice I am asking you to reconsider. I also invite you to, please, feel free to let me know of any topics or texts that you would like to be offered in our Book & Bible study. I want to offer material that is relevant, interesting, and edifying to you.
So just think about it, please. And I hope to see more of you on Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30.