Three Goals for Bible Study Ministry

BARBARANNE KELLY|CONTRIBUTOR

Last Spring, as the restrictions of the pandemic lockdowns and isolation began, I was so grateful for the means to meet virtually with my people. There were a few brief weeks of quiet, and then the Zoom meetings began, slowly at first. Once we realized the potential, we were zooming all over the place! Book studies, Titus 2 meetings, ministry team meetings, Bible studies—if two or more were gathering, Zoom was there. I even got our far-flung family into the act and we had weekly visits with our kids who live all over the country, and my husband and I even started reading bedtime stories to our grandsons.

Before we knew it, “Zoom fatigue” set in, and it wasn’t so much fun anymore. The meetings became more difficult. From poor connections and frozen screens, to the true psychological effects of staring at a screen without the ability to make eye contact or pick up nonverbal communication, virtual meetings grew wearisome. Now, don’t get me wrong, we were glad to be able to at least see one another’s faces as we visited. But when it comes to most of our meetings, nothing replaces being in person.

God’s Word is Not Bound

As our women’s ministry prepares for our Fall Bible studies, we don’t yet know if we will be able to meet in person, and even if we may, for how long. There’s a strong possibility that we will need to use virtual means in order to offer our studies to our women. The thought of this grieves me. I miss being with our women and sharing together over God’s word. Muddling through an hour of Bible study through a camera and screen feels like talking through prison bars.

And yet, even if we must Zoom our studies, I have hope, because, as the apostle Paul reminded Timothy while writing from prison, “the word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim. 2:19).

Reading through the book of Acts, there’s a phrase, repeated several times, that has been jumping off the page at me. “And the word of God continued to increase . . .” (6:7) “But the word of God increased and multiplied” (12:24). “. . . the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region” (13:49). “. . . the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (19:20). The apostles and the believers were doing their part, actively sharing the gospel with the weary and wounded world, but it was God’s word that was at work, changing hearts and bringing life and light where before there were only death and darkness. Paul’s letters, written from prison and forming much of our New Testament, have delivered God’s word to more people than he could have dreamed—around the entire globe—for 2000 years.

Equip, Build, and Grow

As precious as it is to spend time together—physically together—pouring over God’s word, that’s ultimately not the purpose of our Bible studies. The purpose for our Bible studies is found in Ephesians 4. The reason God gives teachers to his church is:

to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. — Ephesians 4:12–16

When we teach women’s Bible studies, our goals are that they be equipped, built up, and grown up. There is a unity of faith which comes only from knowing Christ more, and a maturity in him which will guard our women from the wind and waves which threaten to shipwreck their faith. There is truth spoken in love by which we grow up and build one another up, together, into Christ. These are not only worthy goals; they are God’s goals for his people, and they are worth setting our own discomfort aside and pressing onward.

Perhaps this difficult moment is an opportunity. Perhaps the Lord will use this time to remind us that his word is indeed sufficient to speak to our hearts, revive our souls, and heal our wounds.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  — Hebrews 4:12

The God who promised never to leave or forsake us has sent his effective word—which will not return without accomplishing the purpose for which he sends it (Isa. 55:11). We are in a difficult situation. God is at work; let’s trust him. If you are planning to teach a Bible study this Fall, I pray you persist in doing what he has called you to do and entrust your women to him and his sanctifying word. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thess. 5:24).

About the Author:

Barbaranne Kelly

Barbaranne reads, writes, cooks, runs, and shoots an occasional photo in Texas.  She and her husband Jim are the parents of five of the neatest people they know and grandparents to the first two of (hopefully) many grandchildren.  She has been blogging ever since she accidentally signed up for a blog while attempting to comment on a friend’s blog post and figured, “Why not?”  She now blogs at Grateful and Women of Purpose, a ministry of the women of her church. Barbaranne and Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas, where she leads a Bible study for women in the hope that she and they may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

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