WHAT IS A SCRIPTURE-CENTRIC MEN'S BIBLE STUDY GROUP?
In other words, "Why join a Men’s Bible Study Group (MBSG) that strives to place the Bible front and center, solely and alone?" No other books - no commentaries - just the Bible only, using the inductive study method to read and listen to the text out-loud together, for the purpose of allowing the Holy Spirit to speak from the words of the Logos, the alive Scriptures, to and through each member of the group.
So, Why Join a Scripture-Centric Men’s Bible Study Group?
In Colossians 1:1-2:5, the Apostle Paul describes:
- the foundation for the existence and completeness of all things: Jesus Christ – The Image (eikōn) of the invisible God – The living Word (logos=the Reason for life) – The Gospel (euaggelion) through which we heard, responded, are, see, understand, and we know who we are and for whom we were created.
- And then Paul details out and explains his own personal ministry to the Church through whom God determined to make known all the things founded in Jesus Christ, to not only the Jews but also to the Gentiles, to make known Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Paul was all about “making the Word of God fully known” (v. 25) so that saints (hagios-consecrated ones) would be presented “mature in Christ” (v. 28). He describes how this purpose for which he struggled was his constant goal for the saints, so that they all would understand and know Christ’s hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Immediately thereafter he delivers this challenge in Colossians 2:6-7:
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you
were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (ESV)
This charge calls you and me to grow in our knowledge of God through what we’re taught – the study of His Word! But how can we best accomplish this? Certainly, this happens in
- worship – gathering together with God’s people, and,
- our own personal study of God's Word - our “daily” quiet times with God,
both of which are essential. But additionally, there are types of crucial Word/logos activities with believers that can enhance our growth in new and powerful ways.
While wisdom and knowledge is given root through the teaching, inspiration, and growth that happens through the work of God’s Spirit in “declarative” church meetings, large groups limit our “discovery” growth possibilities and may leave us feeling alone with several un-met needs. It’s difficult to sharpen another person and be sharpened ourselves when we’re not even facing each other in our gatherings together – in sanctuaries or in classrooms. Smaller MBSGs enhance the opportunity for discovery by each person from the Word of God, and helps us all experience the power of the Word as it takes root in our lives.
Sharpening interactions can best occur within the close, face-to-face caring fellowship of a Bible study group where the Word is central to the gathering. It’s in the context of such meetings that we can receive the encouragement and the discipline to grow and mature in Christ on a regular basis. Out of these face-to-face interactions within the small group (examples … 2 or 3 [Matt 18:20] … 6 or 7 … 10 or 12) we are also able to realize and develop a deeper personal sharing and a mutual discipling on a one-to-one basis with Christ present, and in charge.
Why do we need the fellowship of other Christians in small groups for this deeper growth to occur? Why isn’t attending church services or classes enough? Or why can't we just do it on our own? The following excerpt from "Harvest Today," a publication of West Indies Mission/World team, gives us some insight into the benefits of a group:
In the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the seagull represents Western man and his value system - soaring, flying high, feeling the wind in his face, reaching out beyond anything he has done before, daring taking risks, teaching others to fly … Rugged individualism to the "nth" degree.
Some lessons are to be learned from the old gull, especially for those of us who are by temperament shy and retiring. But we submit that geese are a superior Christian model. They fly in formation not alone. The difference is crucial.
Ralph Sturdy writes, “Canadian geese can fly a 71% longer range together than when a solitary goose tries to make it alone. The action of the wings of the goose ahead creates an uplift which makes it easier for the goose that follows, and each in turn passes on this lift to the one behind. Furthermore, geese have a way of rotating leadership so that the burden is shared. And, interestingly enough, when one of the geese becomes ill and has to drop out of the formation, one of the other members of the flock also separates itself from the formation and accompanies the ill one to a resting place."
Sturdy concludes, “I am indebted to the gull. He made me want to fly. But I am in greater debt to the goose because he taught me to fly in a family.”
“Flying in a family” is what Men’s Bible Study Groups (MBSG) are all about. In a small caring unit it is possible to read, listen to, share and study God's Word, then apply it to our lives and hold each other accountable for what we’re going to do as a result. We can experience God's love in new and deeper ways, and become more like Jesus in progressive ways.
Many times we better experience God's love through the caring and love of others. One writer on Christian community has expressed the importance of getting to know one another so well that we really sense God speaking and see him working through each other in the group – as the Body of Christ. Remember Jesus’ words, “where two or three are gathered…” (And note that Matthew 18 doesn’t say “two or more” – could it be Jesus was letting us know in this context that his ideal size for a church was 3 people with him in charge? I digress.) MBSGs have helped this to happen for many men in the Body of Jesus Christ as His family, the church. Because in a MBSG it's easier:
- to get to know one another personally;
- to care for one another;
- to share in one another’s lives; and
- to become active models of caring love for the world outside the Body of Christ in a Men’s Bible Study Group (MBSG).
For many, becoming involved in a MBSG that reads the whole Word of God out-loud, together, has been essential in helping them to "go on growing in the Lord." It has been suggested that there are four important components of any small group Bible study:
- Bible Study--where God addresses the Group.
- Prayer--where the Group addresses God.
- Sharing and Fellowship--where Group members address one another.
- Outreach--where the Group addresses the world (mission).
This last one is a critical part of a MBSG since this is where we allow our “lives to overflow (express) with joy and thanksgiving for all He has done.” (Col 2:7, LB)
I encourage you to become involved in a MBSG with the Word of God as the central focus – as the principal curriculum – as the read-out-loud essential activity – with listening to the Word at the core of the group’s activity. If there truly is a special blessing to be had by the reading-out-loud and the listening to the Revelation of John (confirmed in Revelation 1:3), then why wouldn’t similar blessings be available through the reading of the Word out-loud, and the listening to the whole revelation of the Word of God regularly, methodically, and extensively when MBSGs gather? Why not read the Word together and expect miracles to occur in your life, and the lives of the others in your group, as God nourishes you and grows you in the written Logos?
If you are interested in participating in or starting a men's group that reads Scripture together, please contact me by phone or email. Or maybe you're interested in one of the other Scripture-Centric tools below for witnessing to an unsaved friend, or investing intentionally in discipleship or mentoring relationships, then contact me. We have groups that you could try out now (virtually - in person/on Zoom), or we're willing to help you identify the method that would work best for you and start a group. Let me know - Let me help!
Examples of reading and listening to the Word 1-to-1, and in various size small groups (you decide), for the purpose of reading, hearing, and receiving the Word of God (John 1:12) for spiritual discovery and growth:
- The Pocket Testament League – Give printed Gospel of Johns to others (1-1), neighbors, at coffee shops, on planes, etc. Follow up – check in.
- Share Jesus Without Fear App – Ask 5 questions; Share 7 Scriptures (1-1), start with a conversation, stop when the door closes. Love stirs a next time.
- The Seven Signs of the Gospel of John – “7” studies for small group discussion with (1) unconvinced, (2) seekers, (3) nominal Christians.
- Men’s Transformational Group (MTG) – Me and a friend each invite a friend to read the Bible together daily using the “Read the Word” brochure (provided by The Gathering of Men - just request a brochure).
- Men Reading the Bible Together – Reading out-loud from the One-Year NLT Chronological Bible, an inductive study (no commentaries, no sermon quotes). We provide the Bibles and a Rose Maps & Charts of the Bible (book) as a resource (no charge / provided by one of our Patrons).
- Operation Timothy – 20 Studies for men (Timothys) who show a willingness and a desire to be discipled (by a Paul) in order to go deep in becoming makers of disciple-makers.
By Paul Huddle (©1982, 2005, 2022)