Here’s my latest post, featured this week on the “True Woman” blog–a ministry of Revive Our Hearts.
If it’s not in your church’s foyer yet, it will probably show up soon: the sign-up table for women’s Bible study. Will you glance over at it, wondering if you should sign up? Will you linger at the table, checking out the plan, wondering if this is what God wants for your year?
Perhaps you’re caring for a young family, with a to-do list that only gets longer if little hands try to help. Maybe you’re reluctant to fill the boxes on your calendar with extras, wanting to protect the fleeting years with little ones at home. Or perhaps it’s now your aging parents who need your attention, and you worry about balancing your schedule.
Or maybe it’s not your calendar that’s the obstacle; it’s your fear of being open and vulnerable. As your kids have grown, so have the personal and relationship challenges you face—and you have big kids now. It’s hard to be honest about the fear, devastation, and sorrow you face on a daily basis.
Or perhaps this is the first year you’ve even considered Bible study. Maybe it wasn’t an option or you couldn’t commit. You feel nervous and uncomfortable about joining—worried you’ll say the wrong thing or not know as much as the others. You wonder if you missed your chance years ago.
Weighing the Options
Whatever your life stage or situation, considering women’s Bible study is always an exercise in weighing your priorities. Even when you long for spiritual growth, sometimes you wonder if participating in women’s Bible study at church is the best way to cultivate that growth. You wonder if it might be better to just study the Bible at home. In your jammies. Maybe you could join an online study group or something.
As you weigh your options, I’d like to offer three things to consider, along with some personal experiences:
1. The days are long, but the years are short.
Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” There’s something about looking forward to the end and then thinking backward that helps keep things in perspective. 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?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been involved in some sort of women’s Bible study group. I’ve helped with leadership in various ways: leading worship, leading a small group, and large group teaching. If I were to compile all of the hours I have devoted to connecting with other women around God’s Word, it would be an enormous chunk of my life.
It definitely crowded out other activities. For example, I never signed my preschoolers up for sports or music programs. Instead, they enjoyed the childcare program at Bible study. And I was never part of a “girls’ night out” group or a bunco club.
Some might criticize the way I arranged our calendar—prioritizing my own growth over activities for my kids and opting out of community-building opportunities. But all of us have to choose what we’ll add to the weekly rhythm of life. I chose Bible study. And if all of those hours spent studying God’s Word with other women were retracted from my life, I believe I would be a completely different person. And I also believe that the change in my life as a result of participating in various studies had a direct impact on my family.
So as you and I look at the coming year, let’s think about who we want to become. Let’s consider whether joining a women’s Bible study can help us get there.
2. Wisdom is formed in groups.
Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The people you “walk with” on a regular basis change you. They shape your perspective on life. Your Bible is filled with wisdom, 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.
Back in January, a local bookstore in my town hosted a launch party for the release of my new book. I was secretly worried that no one would come, and I’d need to apologize to the bookstore. To my great delight, the room was filled! As I introduced my various friends to each other that night, I noticed myself saying something repeatedly. “This is Michelle. We first met in Bible study.” Or “This is Kim. She’s part of my summer Bible study group.”
Many of these women who were supporting and cheering me on had been doing so since before my book had a title. In fact, the wisdom and truth I got to share in the book was partly shaped by the stories, conversations, and insights offered to me by these friends. They were there, celebrating what God had done, because they are part of my life.
Who will show up at your next celebration? Who is part of your life? Do you have wise friends who look to God’s Word for help, guidance, and hope? If not, Bible study is a great way to cultivate friendships like these.
3. The Church isn’t meant to be virtual.
I know, I know. The Church isn’t a building. And now, with the new multi-site churches forming, even the local church often isn’t contained in one building. In addition, we can often “connect online” with our church service or various Bible study groups. Video no longer feels “virtual” to us. It feels like we’re in the room.
But are we? I have a friend who says he would far prefer to travel and present to clients in the same room. He relies so heavily on body language and the relational aspects of communication to assess how clients are receiving the message and how he can better serve them.
If this is true in business, perhaps we should prioritize screen-less relationship building in the church. I’m not saying online Bible studies are bad or wrong. They are meeting a great need for many! But for those of us who can physically meet together, I think we should do so.
Hebrews 10:24–25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
It’s not that we can’t encourage and stir up one another for love and good works from behind a screen. Hopefully, that’s what I’m doing right now! It’s just harder to connect personally. For instance, after you read this post, you might forget my name, where I’m from, and what I look like—which won’t offend me. But if that happened the day after we had coffee together, I would struggle to not take it personally.
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. 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. I walk out thinking, Oh, yeah! This is why God gave me life! And this is how I’m supposed to live it.
Obviously, you and the Lord need to sort out your calendar. But if the Lord makes a way for you to tether yourselves to other women who want to follow Jesus and link arms with women who help you keep your eyes on Christ, I can’t think of a more worthy commitment.
From our Revive Our Hearts team: In case you haven’t heard . . . Revive Our Hearts and Moody Publishers are offering a special Livestream event on just this topic—living out the gospel together! You could gather your Bible study group and make a weekend of it! To learn more about Revive ’17 LIVE or register your group, head to Revive17.com/livestream.