We’re a few weeks into our country’s attempt to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus. Everyone keeps saying that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. That may mean we won’t be back in church together for a while.
I work for a company that produces discipleship tools that we call Personal Study Guides (we also have a new one we’ve christened “The Daily Discipleship Guide”). These study guides contain thirteen Bible studies in a ninety day period. Each session introduces a biblical text, has a main point, helps the reader to understand the biblical background, customs, and practices of the times, and is a tool that helps growing Christians self-feed on God’s Word.
I realize it may sound a bit self-serving to say that these personal study guides are more important than ever, but they are. You would expect an employee of LifeWay Christian resources to say that “everyone in your church needs one.” And they do. More than ever. Here’s why.
- Reading the Bible and other Christian literature daily is critical for year-over-year growth. If you don’t believe me, read the book The Shape of Faith to Come by Dr. Brad Waggoner. It was demonstrated through research that the number one factor and predictor of a person’s growth as a disciple is whether or not they self-feed on God’s Word. During the days of “shelter in place,” curfews, and “safer at home” warnings, this is the perfect time for a sequestered believer to have a discipleship tool in their hands to allow God to comfort them and speak to them daily. If your group watches a video followed by discussion, you’re “one and done.” If your group uses personal study guides, you have a great tool that can put people in God’s Word every day between group meetings.
- Because of social distancing and the rise of virtual groups, a personal study guide will give people a common focal point. When groups get together online, they are going to want (and need) to talk. Having a personal study guide that you read, study, and respond to gives every member of the group a common point around which to rally. What could be better than for a church to place a discipleship tool in the hands of every adult member and guest, knowing that these days people are sheltering in place, working from home, and are finding themselves with time on their hands each day. Now more than ever, adults are going to want and need something on which to focus besides COVID-19. What better to focus on daily than God’s Word??
- Because personal study guides are available digitally, it ensures each person in a separated group can have a study guide without any physical contact. Virtual classes need virtual curriculum, and the personal study guides produced by my company come in PDFs and E-books. One keystroke and those can be in people’s inboxes in a matter of seconds – which makes distribution a snap.
- A personal study guide provides group members with an immersive and interactive experience. There are other ways to have a Bible study experience besides using a personal study guide. Some groups have opted for a “plug and play” approach – pick a video, play it or stream it, watch it, and discuss a few questions about it. That’s a very different approach than having a study guide in your hands that requires you to actively engage your mind with the Scripture, answering tough questions and thinking critically about your responses. Places to write responses and journal thoughts further enhance the experience.
- A personal study guide is based on a wise discipleship plan that is crafted by experts. It takes painstaking work to create complex plans for a Bible study series (those plans determine the scope and sequence of the studies). Men and women with advanced degrees in theology and Christian education work together to determine what topics are studied and in what order. These teams of experts produce first-class resources that allow group leaders to focus attention on group members, rather than spending dozens of hours every week searching the internet as they create their own Bible studies.
You may have other reasons why personal study guides are more important now than ever before. If you do, let me know what those reasons are.
While your group is separated, consider getting FREE personal study guides and leader materials from my company. Go to curriculum.lifeway.com and download all you need. It’s our gift to you during these difficult days. LifeWay wants to make sure that every person and every group has the materials they need to continue to meet and thrive during these days of social distancing.
Wash your hands, keep your distance, and pray for a cure to be discovered!
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