Every fall, my church ramps up their small group promotion, encouraging all members of our church to “get out of a row and get into a circle.” It’s a nice thought-- moving from passive attender of church (just sitting in the row on Sunday mornings) to active participant in a Bible study (showing up to a small group of other churchgoers)-- but it can also be intimidating.
Many women have many demands on their time. Many women also have many different feelings about church, faith, and the Bible. Both of these things can leave us wondering if now is really the best time to join that small group… or maybe next time.
As someone who has been involved in different kinds of ministries, small groups, and churches over the years, I’ve come to realize the beauty and power of being plugged into a tightknit, small group kind of community. It’s unlike anything else in the church (or even in the world, I’d argue!) and I’m here to encourage you to take the step out of that row and into a new circle today.
Shannon Popkin recently asked “Should You Join a Women’s Bible Study?” in an article for Revive Our Hearts, and she offers three helpful things to consider if you’re asking yourself the same question.
- “The days are long, but the years are short.” I know many moms who wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, and even though I’m not a mom myself, I know how true it is. I’m constantly amazed at how fast the calendar pages seem to be flipping, and I have a feeling time won’t slow down anytime soon. Recently, in a small group I’ve been a part of for a year now, we took time to create a “future 15” list of things we wanted to accomplish, do, or have in our lives in 30 years. The assignment was eye-opening in many ways, and I realized that while 30 years feels a long way off right now, it will be here in the blink of an eye, and I want to make the most of that time while I can. “There’s something about looking forward to the end and then thinking backward that helps keep things in perspective,” Popkin writes. “What kind of wife, mom, sister, worker, or friend do I want to be at the end of this year? How about the end of this decade? What will help me get there?”
- “Wisdom is formed in groups.” When I look back at who I was when I signed up to be in that small group a year ago and compare that picture to who I am now, the change is noticeable in many, many ways. Their encouragement, support, love, hard questions, and wise advice has shaped me over the weeks and months and has made an impact on me that I know will continue as time goes on. “Your Bible is filled with wisdom,” Popkin shares, “but God designed for that wisdom to be three-dimensional, displayed in the lives of others. Now, I can’t promise you that everyone in your Bible study group will be wise, but if you’re looking for wise women, a Bible study is a great place to start.”
- “The Church isn’t meant to be virtual.” We are more plugged in online than ever, connecting and chatting with friends near and far, even ones we haven’t met in real life. While technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s something about sharing physical space with other women that can’t be replicated in virtual spaces. “Signing up for a Bible study is the equivalent of having coffee rather than reading a blog post. It’s more personal and a bigger commitment,” says Popkin. “It will cost you more time and relational energy. But success in the Christian life is achieved as a group, not just as individuals. On my own, I quickly become discouraged, deceived, and distracted. But when my group gathers to refresh each other’s faith, remind ourselves of truth, and pray together over struggles, it’s like a weekly reorientation.” You just can’t get that online the same way.
I encourage you to take some time to prayerfully consider joining a small group, a Bible study group, a book club, or a ministry team through your church. Even if your calendar seems full and you feel too busy to add one more thing to your plate, open your heart and mind to the idea that the Lord might be calling you to do life with other women in your community through a committed study or small group.
There is so much goodness to be gained when we intentionally show up to be together consistently, when we are faithful to one another as the Lord is faithful to us. There is growth to be had, wisdom to be shared, and connection to be made… and all we have to do is show up, open to the Spirit and to one another.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock-m-gucci
Publication date: August 7, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.