I’m very encouraged by the church trend predictions from Carey Nieuwhof 10 Predictions about the Future Church and Shifting Attendance Patterns especially these two:
- Consumer Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge
- Sundays will be more about what we give than what we get
If this is true, are we ready as church members and as disciplemakers to serve selflessly? Do we just continue to do Bible study after Bible study without our lives being transformed as a result of what we are studying? Are we leading women’s Bible studies in this way? If so, it’s time for a change.
As we mature, we are to grow to stronger in our faith, in our witness, in our spiritual disciplines, and in our desire to help others grow. Imagine the strength this bridge has to have to hold up in all kinds of weather, for years of wear, and with much heavy traffic. As we grow strong as disciples, we can be like a strong bridge sharing God’s truths from one generation to another.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul taught Timothy to grow through what he’d learned and then become a disciplemaker of others when he said, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.“
According to LifeWay Research, Bible engagement (not just reading but study that leads to spiritual transformation) is the number one spiritual discipline of a growing disciple. If we lead women’s small groups or discipleship groups, we must ask the question, “Are we making disciples who are continually taking steps forward in their relationship with Christ. Are we making disciples who are making disciples?” If you aren’t seeing fruit in your own life or the lives of those you lead and serve, will you be willing to pray for God to show you what your next step is, personally and for those you influence?
If you are leading a group of women, are you intentionally helping them engage Bible truths? Are you showing them that biblical truth is central to their spiritual growth? Are you giving them some practical ways to understand and apply Truth?
One way to do that is helping them them begin a daily plan for reading scripture. Help them find a reading plan that works for them, or for your entire group. Before reading, pray for God to speak as you open the Bible. Then, show them how to have a daily take-away from their reading. Here are some examples:
In the books Foundations and Foundations New Testament, by Robby and Kandi Gallaty from Replicate.org, you learn how to use a HEAR journal to apply scripture. This process is part of their D-Group method of disciplemaking. Other elements of a D-Group include prayer, scripture memorization and obedience to the Word. (Another great resource is Disciple Her.)
- H-ighlight a verse or passage from your daily reading that stands out to you
- E-xplain what that passage, in its original context, says
- A-pply that passage to your life, how it is this relevant to your life today
- R-espond by writing a prayer including how you will live out the truth you just read
Priscilla Shirer has a similar approach she calls the 5 P’s of reading the Bible:
- Position yourself to hear from God
- Pore over passage and Paraphrase major points
- Pull out spiritual principles
- Pose the questions
- Plan obedience and pin down a date
Jen Wilkin also encourages this type of reading in her method:
- Purpose-of the book as a part of the Gospel
- Perspective-who wrote, when written, to whom written, what style, why written
- Patience-delayed gratification, patience with self and process
- Process-comprehension, interpretation and application
- Prayer-asking the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your study
Let me conclude this series by giving you some challenges to strengthen your Bible study, whether personal or in a group. Change the atmosphere of “Bible study” by doing these 7 things:
- Pray for hearts (yours and others) to be tender to His Word and to transforming into His image
- Talk continually about transformation of lives, not success in numbers in attendance or number of Bible studies “completed”
- Be strategic about a plan for discipleship; set clear steps of growth
- Learn and teach the basics over and over; they never get old
- Encourage (and be encouraged) to grasp those basics and then go deeper in commitment, obedience, steps of faith, prayer
- Share a vision for growing as a disciple so women are not satisfied staying where they are whether brand new believers or long time women of faith
- Be clear about how to engage, step into discipleship
Will you commit to growing as a disciple? Will you commit to becoming a disciplemaker? Will you commit to becoming a disciplemaker who makes disciplemakers?
As we mature as a follower of Christ, we become strong women of God who influence other women to become strong women of God. What a legacy to leave for the next generation!
Banner photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash