Our second “C” in the Missional Sunday School series is content. For a missional small community, content or where we choose to turn for truth and authority is critical. We are not to be a bunch of people who are driven to and fro by every wind of doctrine as Paul warns about in Ephesians 4:14. A missional community is grounded because it receives its content from the only true source of authority – The Holy Bible, God’s written word! We are not navel gazers who form their beliefs by sticking a finger in the wind and following the person with the best personality or most persuasive speech.
In my opinion, Sunday School or small community leaders have two choices when it comes to content. One, you can spoon feed your group and keep them forever dependant upon you for their spiritual growth (or lack thereof)! Option two: wean them off of you and teach them to study and grow on their own. I hope you choose option two!
Now you might be thinking, if I teach them to study on their own, why would they ever come to small group meeting? They’ll come, because the more comfortable they are in their personal study and application of God’s Word, the more comfortable they will be engaging others in class. The depth of your group’s Bible study will increase and so will the personal faith of the people in the group.
A great purpose for leading your group into deeper study of the Bible is that they will be able to stand on their own when facing life’s trials or opposing viewpoints, and they will be shining lights in the community. Let’s face it, the leader of your Bible study will probably not be around when you are taking a break at work and the topic of evolution, abortion, or some other theological issue comes up. When the trials of life hits them between the shoulder blades, they will better endure and overcome them if they are strongly grounded in the truth of God’s Word instead of the latest pop-psychology offering they saw on television!
One of the reasons many believers do not share their faith is because they do not understand the principles that guide their faith. We have gotten to this point because although we may have taught our group “what” to believe, we have not taught them “why” we believe it. Teaching “why” requires us to be deep ourselves, and it attracts depth in the Bible study.
I am a proponent of exegetical Bible study. And for a reason you may not have thought about. We are doing more than just leading a group Bible study each week. The way we teach the Bible is how our people are going to go home and study it. Working our way through a biblical text teaches our group how to study God’s Word on their own.
But the most important purpose in knowing the Bible is that it helps us know God (John 17:3). When we study Dobson, we study Dobson’s words. The same with Swindoll, MacArthur, and all other Christian writers. When we study the Bible however, we are studying God’s words. The deeper study that we can bring our group into will help all of us know God deeper and more intimately. We want to encourage people to study the Bible individually, not because it will make our Sunday School class better, but because it will help us know God better!
And the better we know God, the better we will be in tune with His mission of redeeming fallen humanity.