A friend comes to me for advice. Feelings of emptiness consume her. She recently moved, and she longs for connection in her new community. Her kids formed friendships at school. Her husband is adjusting at work. But she struggles to find the fulfillment she needs right now.
She asks what I would do in her situation, and my answer comes as a surprise. Find a local ladies’ Bible study to join. With those few words, I sense her skepticism. Because committing to a weekly Bible study group is the last thing on her mind right now.
When we join a Bible study group, we expect to learn more about God’s Word. We also expect to hear sound teaching and grow in our faith. However, there are also unexpected benefits to attending. These benefits can provide the refreshment we need in times of loneliness or uncertainty.
To determine the most unexpected benefits of group Bible study, I went straight to a trustworthy source. I chatted with a local band of women who live out exactly what a Bible study should be. I asked them what they discovered in their group that they didn’t expect. From their responses, I’ve compiled these top five unexpected benefits of group Bible study.
1. Group Bible study offers accountability.
We all have good intentions to stick with Bible study plans at home, yet distractions provide one reason after another to postpone. Our study group members double as accountability partners. When we’re tempted to let other things get in the way, a phone call or text saying, “We missed you,” motivates us to stay on track.
A good Bible study leader prays for our spiritual growth and encourages us to put biblical precepts into practice. Consistent attendance gives the leader and members a regular time for sharing, praying, and discussing how to apply concepts learned from God’s Word.
2. Group Bible study creates connection.
Sometimes we face difficult circumstances. We enter hard places. We feel like no one understands. We have an enemy who loves to separate us from other believers. He attempts to affirm those thoughts that say, “No one wants me around.” He wants us to feel alone.
But when women get together centered on God’s Word, friendships form. We meet other women who’ve been there, who understand. God orchestrates relationships and brings us the right person to pray with us. We find instant prayer partners.
Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we affirm His promises in the company of other believers, we “let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23).
3. Group Bible study fosters community.
Just as God brings us friends to support us, He will also provide opportunities for us to serve others. By growing in our knowledge of God, we will be more prepared to mentor those who are new to the faith. God also opens our eyes to others in need, providing opportunities to serve the body with Christ-like love and generosity.
“…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God,” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Bible study groups reflect the diversity of our world. From our life experiences, we each develop a unique perspective. We can look at Scripture through this lens, and share our viewpoints with one another. This open communication brings us closer together as a community.
4. Group Bible study provides encouragement.
“…that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12.
Just seeing a woman of God living out abundant faith encourages me. Maybe you know someone who’s lost a loved one yet chooses to reach out to those in need. Maybe you have a friend who’s faced unimaginable trials but still prays daily for others.
What can we learn from their example? How do their actions affect our faith? Without a doubt, watching someone shine through adversity lets us know we can face anything with Christ who gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13)
5. Group Bible study can be a place to find unconditional love.
Number five is hard for me to talk about, because I know it’s not always the case. I don’t like to cause conflict, but the reality is that sometimes God’s Word is not taught in love. Some of us have experienced this in group Bible study, and it’s never easy.
A wise friend told me she attended a Bible study where she never felt loved, but she later found a group where she received the unconditional love of Christ from her first moment there.
She wondered how God’s Word could be taught without love, when God is love (1 John 4:8). How can two groups be so different? My friend realized an important truth. We are all imperfect beings, and as such we are vulnerable to causing hurt, or being hurt by others – even our Christian brothers and sisters.
So let me encourage you today. If you’ve considered joining a group Bible study, don’t let a bad experience cause you to question. Don’t allow the enemy to discourage you from trying again. Instead, let’s learn from those experiences and resolve to move forward in love.
A thriving Bible study will be evident by the strong leadership, supportive members, and the sense of community you feel. And who knows? You may discover other unexpected benefits along the way. So my advice to that friend who longs for connection? Join a small group Bible study. You will be glad you did.
Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart who teaches about God’s powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Download the free “How to Use Over It as a Bible Study” group leader’s guide at www.morethanyourself.com/over-it.
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Publication date: January 20, 2017