Last month I went to the Book of Faith Jubilee in St. Paul and I had a wonderful time. Gathering with hundreds of people who love the Bible and love talking about the Bible and how to invite ever more people to come to love it as much as they do–well, it was great.
One of the speakers talked about the best Bible study leader he knows and what makes her such a good leader. Is she a scripture scholar? No. Is she a theologian? No. How about a dynamic preacher? No. So what makes her such a great Bible study leader?
She’s the warmest, most welcoming person in town. She knows how to make people feel at home. She’s hospitable. She knows how to throw a good party, and people love an invitation from her.
The speaker told us that when the local expert (the pastor?) leads the Bible study, people are shy–what if they say the wrong thing? Won’t the leader think they’re stupid, or worse, bad Christians? And so people are silent and reluctant, and that makes for a stiff, uncomfortable gathering.
Who wants to be part of that? Not me. That sounds too much like confirmation class back when I was twelve–half a dozen kids around a table in the chilly church basement, with a pastor who looked pained every time one of us spoke up.
But when the most hospitable person in town is the host and conversation leader, people are eager to come, and they’re willing to open up and take a risk. And that leads to exciting, fruitful discussions about something important to us. Everyone likes to be part of that. I would! Wouldn’t you?
The speaker told us that the best Bible study he knows happens away from the church. It’s in the host’s home. And there’s babysitting–at the church. Oh, and just like with any good party, there’s food. They have pizza and soda and beer with their Bible study. And everyone has a wonderful time eating and drinking and talking about God’s word together, with everything made easier for them by their gracious and welcoming host and conversation leader.
Hospitality. Sharing. Generosity. All for the sake of bringing people together around the word of God. Sounds almost like something out of the book of Acts, doesn’t it?
How does you Bible study group get together? Could you make something like this happen with your own Bible study group? Let’s talk about it. Bible study? No, Bible party!
Audrey Riley is associate editor, Lutheran Woman Today magazine.