Soon after I arrived in Circuit, one of the churches under my care asked if we could start a bible study/fellowship group, because it was something they longed for but hadn’t had for some time.
I willingly obliged, encouraged by their enthusiasm for study and fellowship and I confess slightly indulgently – because I always enjoy conversation about faith, scripture and God.
At our first meeting 10 turned up, and on the whole they’ve kept coming, for a church will less than 20 members, 50% coming seems to be to be a really positive and encouraging thing.
The book they chose to use for the group is ‘compass’, which explores faith and Methodism, and each month we’ve been meeting. Today I confess to only having looked at the material this morning – not my usual way of working! To my surprise, the material, entitled ‘the difference Jesus makes‘, sought in one session cover the people and places of Holy Week, questions of individual and corporate sin, the brokenness of humankind and on top of that, explore multiple theories of atonement!
If I’d looked at the material earlier, I’d probably have changed the material – I didn’t feel I understood the material enough, let alone the group, and it felt too close to the start of lent to start thinking about Holy Week and the crucifixion… but with time not on my side, I just had to go for it.
To my surprise, folk were incredibly receptive, and even helped me understand more. They even commented, entirely unprovoked, that it was really good to thinking about it just before lent, as it helps not to take lent and Easter for granted and really think things through. Another commented that, while the material was quite heavy, they won’t learn more without being pushed to explore it. I marvel at this group’s willingness and hunger to study scripture, learn from theology and apply it to life and ministry.
By the end of we ended up with the display above, with the cross at the centre and littered around it people and places from the holy week story, and ‘images’ of Jesus – the difference he makes. It looks a bit of a mess…much like the world… yet I cam away reminded that in Christ all can be reconciled, transformed and redeemed, that I don’t need to understand it all, and that theology, church and bible study doesn’t have to be tidy!
Making theology accessible to others is challenging most of the time,
scary some of the time,
daunting almost all of the time,
but rewarding all of the time.