Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
As I have been teaching and leading Bible study and discipling one-on-one, I have found that Jesus followers find it difficult to talk with each other about their relationship with Jesus. Wanting to reverse this, I made changes in the way the Tuesday Night Teachings (TNT) Bible study group is led.
Several years ago I was leading a study in the Gospel of John, and was really excited about what I was learning. As I taught, the thought came to allow the TNT attendees to make personal discoveries on their own instead of me giving them what I had discovered. So I appointed two or three smaller groups giving them questions to answer that might lead to personal discovery. I asked the guys I was meeting one-on-one with to facilitate these small group discussions answering the questions I had provided. After they had spent time in discussion I called the groups back together to discuss their findings and did the closing discussion on something I had found as the result of my own personal study.
One day, as my wife and I were discussing TNT, I asked, "Why am I doing all the talking? Why should I stand in front of the group?" Through that discussion, it was determined one of the guys I was meeting with would share the responsibilities with me.
Although this did provide more personal discovery with those I was meeting with, I found others in the group still reluctant to talk with each other about their relationship with Jesus - even though they are believers. Wanting to solve this dilemma, I instituted what I call Discipleship Tuesday.
Discipleship Tuesday is held once a month and is planned like this: First, two lessons, lasting 30 minutes, i.e. "How to have a Quiet-Time" and "Overview of Prayer", are taught simultaneously in different parts of the room. Second, the individuals are divided into one-on-one groups (gals with gals, guys with guys) and spend 20 minutes each discussing, facilitating and teaching the lessons to each other. Third, the one-on-one pairs come back together as one large group to discuss the lesson, discuss the processes of the evening in regard to discipleship, and final prayer.
The purpose is to encourage the attendees to be more comfortable in their talking with each other about spiritual things. The problems I have seen are: 1) the one-on-one pairs are repeating what was talked about and not being creative in their discussion, 2) there is no intentional relationship building going on, 3) there is no guarantee that the attendees discuss with each other outside of TNT what they have learned, and 4) there is no guarantee the attendees will pass on to those in their spheres of influence (outside of TNT) what they are learning.
Recently I had another thought in regard to encouraging discussing spiritual things with those attending TNT. The result of that thought brought these changes: During our regular TNT meetings, we divide into two groups which we try to keep the same so as to encourage intentional relationship building. Each group is studying the same material and is facilitated by a team leader who has discussed the material at the leadership Sunday Night Study (SNS) held in my home; the time given is about an hour. After this, we bring two people from each group, including a leader from the SNS, into a quad group; gals are included within these quads. These meet for 15 minutes to discuss the study and their take home or application. We then come back into one large group for prayer from the lesson and life.
The purpose of the quads is to enable intentional relationship building, yet a problem with this is that it cannot be easily accomplished in the 15 minutes allotted. A second purpose is to allow for greater accountability among these four, yet a problem is that the four may not be the same the next week. My desire is that both these purposes would happen outside of TNT, but a problem is that there is no guarantee the attendees will discuss what they've learned outside of this semi-controlled learning environment.