How a new study might impact one family
By David Francis
As we began improving Bible Studies for Life, our vision was driven by what could happen in churches when the Bible meets the life of one person, one group or one family.
Imagine what might happen in families where Scripture is really intersecting their lives. Consider Bob and Brenda, their kids, Cole and Cara, and their pastor, Doug.
Bob occasionally comes to worship with Brenda, but he is hardly connected. Cara, a fifth grader, and Cole, a high school freshman, like their Bible study classes and wish they came more often. They’d even like to talk about what they’re learning. That rarely happens. The idea of leading a spiritual conversation with his kids terrifies Bob. He wouldn’t even know where to start.
For the past few weeks, Pastor Doug has been encouraging folks who are not in a small group to join one. The church offers either weeknight groups in homes or Sunday morning groups at church. Several new groups start next week. The topic is “Pressure Points” from the book of James. The promotional video shown in the worship service has grabbed Bob’s attention. On the way home, he suggests to Brenda they give it a try. She tries to control her elation.
It’s three weeks later. The family is enjoying lunch after church. Taking a deep breath, Bob asks, “Cole, what did your class talk about today?”
“Temptation,” Cole responds.
Brenda exclaims, “That’s what we discussed, too. We started with a question about what food tempts us. Your dad said oysters.”
“Yuck, Dad!” Cara says with disgust.
Cole shares, “Our first question was about what school subject we’re most tempted to cheat in.” Everyone stares at Cole. “You know it’s math; but, no, I haven’t given into the temptation.”
“Did you study chapter 1 of James too, Cara?” Bob asks.
“No,” she replies. “Our story was from Matthew—chapter 4. But it was about temptation, too: when the devil tempted Jesus. There is a picture of it on the back of the activity page I brought home.”
Retrieving it, Cara hands it to her dad. Much to Bob’s delight, the “One Conversation” page includes some questions for families to discuss. It has become a weekly ritual now, one everybody enjoys. Bob no longer feels pressure when he reads Deuteronomy 6:7. He’s doing it!
It’s three years later. Cole and Cara are well equipped for the transitions to college and high school they will soon make. Bob and Brenda are teaching a class of 4th graders. Their room is full every week. Brenda likes to think it is her marvelous storytelling. The kids say it’s because they want to see what the video characters are going to do next. Bob is a zealot for “One Conversation” and makes sure parents know about it.
Bob and Brenda are both starting new groups. They’ve caught the vision to connect the unconnected. Brenda, a nurse, arrives at the hospital early on Mondays to lead a group ending a weekend rotation. She’s using one of the 6-session studies, “Let Hope In,” which includes a video featuring author Pete Wilson from the Leader Kit. Nervous at first, the video has bolstered her confidence.
Bob is starting a lunch group at work. Most of the guys have decided to download the app for the study rather than using a book. Bob has purchased the digital version for the others and plans to email a PDF to them each week.
Cole and Cara often use the student app to engage in spiritual conversations. They’ve kept every study on their smartphones. It’s amazing how quickly they can locate a session that deals with an issue their friends are talking about.
Pastor Doug is so proud of this family. And dozens like them. Most have no idea that the past three years of Bible study has been guided by an intentional plan. When Doug first heard about Bible Studies for Life, he liked the three promises: connect the unconnected, strengthen families and disciple people with wisdom. He was particularly drawn to the third.
Doug had become weary of the groups in his church “doing what was right in their own eyes.” With some skepticism, he contemplated the plan for the series. It claimed to be derived from research. It said it would help people grow in three spheres of life: Christ, community and culture. It said you could measure that growth over time by observing six indicators and answering 12 questions. Doug uses it as an evaluation tool now. Occasionally, he sits down with someone to discuss how that person has grown. More often, he just thinks about a family like Bob and Brenda’s and rejoices.
My imaginary Pastor Doug is as real to me as the hundreds of pastors and Christian educators I’ve met in almost every state. Pastors like Doug are my heroes—and heroes to the Bobs and Brendas in their churches. In my imagination, he is grateful he checked out BibleStudiesForLife.com.
My prayer is that God will allow me to hear many real stories from pastors about real people and families in real churches transformed when the Bible met their lives—through a series called Bible Studies for Life.
David Francis is managing editor of Bible Studies for Life.