Today’s post is from Mackenzie Ferguson. She is a member of the Church I serve and she is also a small group leader for the past several years. She is a married mother of two daughters and has a heart to see people grow in Jesus.
I hear it time and time again. “I need to get involved with a small group study” or “I need this type of accountability in my life.” So, we choose a study with interesting material, relatable content, set dates, and launch. In my experience, small group studies always start strong, with lots of eager, hopeful participants thirsty for something that has been laid on their hearts. But sooner or later, participation starts to wane. What happened to “I NEED this”? Was it not interesting or entertaining? Was it too personal or too convicting? Or did the day-to-day activities creep into the schedule again, consuming any spare time initially committed to this endeavor? Afterall, …life happens.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not pointing the finger at you. I have a 10-year history of leaving small group studies preterm. If I could attach a picture to this post, it would be of my living room bookshelf, where I have an entire section dedicated to all the study workbooks I began but left unfinished.
So, if the studies were so fruitful and powerful, why leave? That, I cannot answer for you. I have a long list of ridiculous excuses that don’t hold up. Every time I look at that bookshelf, I think of all the knowledge and wisdom I turned away from in search of something else, something worldly. Instead of talking about WHY people leave a small group study, I would like to encourage you to STAY and see it through to completion. If you are currently attending a group Bible study, here are a few thoughts that might reverse the urge to say “uncle”:
- Accountability. Wait. What? This is one of the main reasons people JOIN a study, so what does it have to do with NOT LEAVING one? One of the most effective ways to stay focused when the world starts pulling your attention away is to form a relationship with someone in your group. Find that one person you feel comfortable reaching out to “after hours” and discuss the material on a personal level. Connecting with someone you look forward to seeing will motivate you to resist skipping on those days where it would be way more convenient to stay home with your family. And remember, they’re probably counting on you too.
- Read scripture. This sounds like a no-brainer, but we often overlook or dismiss common-knowledge options in search of something more profound. Scripture is p.o.w.e.r.f.u.l. It is alive and active, which means it’s going to speak to you. Assuming your study has some Bible verses stuffed somewhere between 25 personal-reflection questions, carve out some time to look those verses up. Give the Lord a chance to talk to you. Use your Bible phone app on your lunch break, or set it to audible while cooking supper. There may be some incredibly valuable lessons from the author you don’t want to miss, so rely on the Word of God to pierce you and motivate you to keep advancing through the study.
- It’s not all about you. Choosing a study that is relative and interesting to you is important, but there’s more… We can’t overlook the plausibility that God positioned you in that specific room with those specific people to carry out His will. Whether it’s recounting personal experiences, carrying out mission work together, or simply forming a friendship with another believer, you can be an asset to someone else’s faith when you’re obedient to Him. You have endured specific events in your life that left an impression on you, and sharing learned-lessons with others for God’s glory may be the reason you’re still pondering the option to stay.
If you are currently enrolled in a study, or about to sign up for one, I hope you found some encouragement to press on, and finish to completion. I fully understand what it’s like for interest and attention to start slipping in week 4 of an 8-week study. So, if you’re thinking of parting-ways early, grab a friend, read through scripture, and execute some discernment and prayer to seek out what He’s trying to tell you. These points might not get you in a seat every week, but know that others (like me) are experiencing this dilemma too, and we can finish this together.