Keep your community connected with God and each other
LITTLE ROCK SCRIPTURE STUDY
It is perhaps not surprising that priests and pastors, pastoral councils, associates or leaders, or simply fellow parishioners are looking for ways to ensure their church community stays connected to each other, and our Lord, in these troubled times.
One way may well be to start, revive or continue Bible Study groups now.
A Bible study program helps shapes God’s people into faithful and active disciples. Through prayer and study, adults learn more about the Bible and its message, learn to use the tools that help in understanding, grow in their appreciation for community life, and encounter Christ in ways that are transforming. Delving into a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Bible, and how it applies to our lives, is sure to be a comfort in these troubled times.
But aren’t Bible studies traditionally conducted in groups, where we can pray together and learnings can be shared collectively?
Yes, but the new editions of the Little Rock Scripture Study program have been reimagined and are ideal for bringing people together remotely, or indeed for private, individual study and reflection.
Little Rock Scripture Study offers the resources for participants to connect and study remotely with just a little more ingenuity and a few digital devices.
The new editions offer links on the Table of Contents pages to online lectures, making it convenient for parishioners to view at home.The new editions now have all commentary, study questions, reflection and prayer resources conveniently included in single volumes, making insights simple for participants. Leaders are offered the flexibility to develope shorter study programs or deeper dives into scripture. Take a look at some sample pages for yourself here.
Through the use of web-conferencing, participants are able to study together — just in a slightly different way. Online applications like Skype or Zoom allow you to gather folks together, and offer a space for discussion, questions and insights, which can be shared at set times. You may not be physically together, but you will be communally. Skype, Zoom and other such systems have free versions (with some restrictions) or (relatively modest) monthly charges that need be incurred only by one participant (most likely by the leader or convenor). It is wonderful to be able to see each other’s faces as you talk about, and share, what you have learned during the week. These online tools may appear daunting at first, but there is plenty of support offered to get people up and running… or perhaps you know of a tech-savvy parishioner who can assist you at first.
If you have a large group, you may wish to break up into smaller groups for the purposes of these gatherings and discussions. If certain members of the group are unable to connect this way, perhaps others could reach out to them for a phone conversation during the week.
Use email to keep in touch and share ideas. A group discussion can carry on this way throughout the week, or simply on the day of your usual gathering (to minimize the number of emails, especially for larger groups).
Everyone can share one or two things that they learned during that week’s study, or that they really pondered, or that they questioned. Hearing from each other by email isn’t the same as meeting in person, but it can keep you connected and cheer you all up! Participants can also share prayer requests and let each other know how they are doing.
One-on-one faith-sharing by phone is also possible. When you can’t meet as a group, another option is to share in one-on-one conversations. A group leader can assign pairs to talk on the phone once during the week, discussing the content of the lesson as usual. The following week, new pairs can be formed, etc. This can be voluntary as not all members may wish to participate.
You may also wish to harness the power of Facebook. If a significant number of members of your group are on Facebook, or are willing join, you can form a Facebook group just for your Bible study group. You can share about what you’re learning and reflecting on, prayer intentions, favourite Scripture passages, and encouragement. Facebook also has video conferencing options that your group might explore.
Plan to gather for a final ‘debrief’ when the situation allows and ‘normal life’ restarts. None of us knows how long these social distancing precautions will continue, but once we do know, your group can make plans to gather for a final meeting for faith-sharing and a celebration of your study and time together – even if it was remotely.
All the ingredients are available to ensures your community remains connected to their faith and each other. Challenge your community to take up some Bible studies using Little Rock Scripture Study and reimagine your own community of disciples now.
Finally, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your own ideas or to receive any support or help we may be able to offer.
I really do encourage you to form a Bible Study group and reimagine just how your parish life can continue unabated.
May the healing presence of God be with you through these trying days.
PS: Please share this as widely as possible throughout your community. The Little Rock Scripture Study series allows for individual study. If you choose not to undertake a group study program, there are sure to be parishioners who will welcome such an important faith enriching activity right now.