This is article four of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.
Principle One: Coordination
Transformational Small Group Bible study is more than about just Bible study. It’s about making disciples; it about Kingdom work. Read Matthew 4:23 and listen for Jesus three Kingdom actions:
…Jesus went throughout Galilee, Teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
- Evangelism: Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom
Listen for the results?
Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the ‘Ten Towns’ across the lake, others from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan. Matthew 4:24-25
Transformational Small Group Bible study ministry takes team planning based on Jesus’ Kingdom actions: A Transformational Class Ministry Team is needed to coordinate the class disciple-making process. The team includes 1. The teacher (Teaching); 2. The Outreach Leader (Evangelism); and 3. Care Group Leaders (Ministry). Leaders should meet as a team regularly to coordinate ministry to members (Care Group), outreach/evangelism to potential disciples (Outreach Leader), and transformational teaching experiences in Bible study (Teacher). Leaders will be more confident when they plan together and know what their assignments are.
Coordination of the Bible study begins with a singular focus on one Bible Truth and one Teaching Aim. Learners can handle only one truth and aim per session. Each Bible passage contains multiple biblical truths and each Bible study session could contain multiple teaching aims. I usually tell my conferees, If you try to cover more than one biblical truth and to accomplish more than one teaching aim, you’ll be like a lint picker in a blue-serge suit factory; you’ll never get it all done! Most don’t know what a blue-serge suit is, or for that matter, a suit these days!!
Teachers often get caught up in the minutia of the Bible study. They want to cover every little jot and tittle of the passage. Their focus is on knowledge in a content based approach. Bible study must be concept based if it is to be transformational. Knowledge never saved a soul; but a single biblical truth has the potential of transforming behavior.
What happens if you dump a whole bag of Black Kow on a rose bush? (For those ‘non-gardeners’, Black Kow is composted cow manure; pure gold for roses!) It burns the bush up. Too much nitrogen can damage the plant, or it results in only bush and no blooms. Who wants that? Now, take that same bag of Black Kow and over time make several thin layers of compost around the rose bush. This creates an environment in which the plant can thrive and produce beautiful roses. Each Sunday, we have the opportunity to share one biblical truth; over the year this results in 52 biblical truths; thin layers of truth that will create an environment in which the Holy Spirit can do His work and produce fruit; a transformed life.
Sure, teachers can become caught in the egotistical trap of see how much I know and can teach you! But, to be transformational, we must overcome that temptation and lead learners to discover one biblical truth at a time. Everything in the lesson from beginning to end should center on that truth, and the only thing you want your learners to take home with them is that one biblical truth. Will Bible knowledge be learned? Of course, but our job is not to Teach the Bible! (Content only as we might teach American History) Our job is to Teach People the Bible! There is a big, transformational difference.
Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.