I recently taught Everything We Need: God's Path to Know Him Better to a group of women at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We crammed the whole study into nine sessions! Needless to say, this pace was much too fast. Despite the hurried pace, though, the group of us grew into a close group. Conversation, prayer, and the study of God’s Word brought us into community. After the last session ended, one of the women sent me an instant message, “I really enjoyed the study and getting to know everyone in the group. How come some good things are only for a short time?"
I agreed with her rhetorical question.
In my thoughts, I started comparing that short class with two other classes I have taught for several years and one my husband has taught. In all three groups, members came and went. Overall, though, lasting relationships and enduring friendships typified each class. We have studied together, prayed together, and grown together. We have extended grace, celebrated, mourned, forgiven, admonished, and loved.
A couple of weeks ago, a member of one of those groups sent a text message asking for help with a project on the coming Sunday afternoon. I know she sent the text to many people although I don’t know how many. I do know who showed up to help though – the members of our group. Every single one of them came to help. For whatever reason, no one else did.
Twelve years ago, when my mom died, I was part of a similar type of Bible study group. We had met every other Thursday for a few years by that time. After hearing that the emergency room doctors hadn’t been able to save my mom, I came out of the hospital room to find those friends sitting there in the hallway. They had already heard and had already come. After a hug, they were ready with these words, “What do you need us to do?” They ended up going to my mom’s house; they hand-washed all of the china that was still sitting on her kitchen cabinets from Christmas dinner the night before.
Long term Bible study classes build community like nothing else can. I hope all of you can experience that type of group, whether it’s in your church, your home, or here online.