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A Heart For God: So You Want To Start a Bible Study, Do You?

Monday, September 27, 2010

So You Want To Start a Bible Study, Do You?

So you want to start a Bible study? (Maybe?) And let's just say ~ with a focus on men in particular. (Sorry ladies. Check out @LifeVerse for that.) Men are a tough nut to crack (and they're "nutty," too!). They are suspicious. (I am.) They don't like being manipulated. (It happens.) They can sniff out a waste of time and a fake from afar. (Get real.) They've been let down before. (Just sayin'.) But the fact remains that men are vital to the cause of Christ. (Ya think?) The church is hurting (imho) because it's a "ghost town" when it comes to men. (Look around on a Sunday morning. What percentage of men versus women do you estimate?)

And it was a woman (Mary Magdalene) who first preached after the Tomb was made empty. (Mark 16:9-11) (Hooray for women.) Yet it was a man (Peter) who first preached after the Spirit was poured out. (Acts 2:14) So we need both! A side note: I don't know if you noticed it, but Peter preached to "men" on Pentecost. In Acts 2:22, the very first part of the verse, it reads, "Men of Israel, listen to this." D0 you see that? "Men of Israel." There were others there, too (see the rest of the verse), but the truth is among the three thousand who gave their hearts to Jesus on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41), we can estimate at least hundreds of them were men (upwards of eleven, twelve, thirteen hundred or more? God only knows). That's a pretty big start to a men's Bible study if you ask me. So men are reachable.

And the way we do it is the way we do anything. We go to the manual for reaching men (the Bible). And specifically we look at how the "perfect Man" did it. I've tried to sum up Christ's approach to reaching men (as I see it) in the following action plan (of course, it's just a starting point~there's so much more to be worked through and added, prayed about and discussed)...

So You Want To Start a Bible Study [For Men], Do You? (12 steps):
(Feel free to add your "steps" in the comment section below)

#1: Be passionate about Christ yourself. It is attractive to men to see another man on fire for Jesus. It needs to be a genuine passion that only the Holy Spirit can start and sustain. Burn. (Jeremiah 20:9)

#2: Focus on men and caring for men. It can't be about (quote) "starting a Bible study." It needs to be about loving men and building relationships with men no matter where it is God has you (on or offline). Allow God to break your heart over men ~ their needs, desires, hurts and hopes. Get your eyes off yourself. (Mark 10:45)

#3: Ask God to show you who's supposed to be involved. Jesus prayed all night, then He chose twelve guys. (Luke 6:12-16) There are specific men that you are meant to build up and encourage (and that are meant to build up and encourage you in return!). You might be surprised by who God picks.

#4: Invite each one personally. Jesus called twelve guys. (Luke 6:13) (emphasis on "called.") It is common knowledge (?) that if you want to get someone to participate in anything, the most attractive approach is to give them a personal invitation. (An announcement in the bulletin or from the pulpit ~ or in a tweet? ~ just doesn't cut it.) Talk to men.

#5: Keep it small. Jesus called twelve guys. (Luke 6:13) (emphasis on "twelve") I know, I know. There are some big women Bible studies out there. (Not that the women who are taking part are "big" ~ oh, you know what I mean.) But the simple fact is you can't build a meaningful relationship with a crowd. (Not that "big" is all bad. To get to "big" you must go through "small.")

#6: Make it about connecting with brothers. It's interesting that our Lord called two brother pairs first to be with Him. (Mark 1:16-20) No question, the best relationships with guys I've ever had in the church are the ones where I could say, "It was like they were my brother." (It's bad English, but it's the way I talk.) Men need to feel like they're a part of a brotherhood. Seek out the (quote) "wall flower." (Luke 14:13-14)

#7: Make it about connecting with Christ. Jesus is the "Word of God." (John 1:1) He is the "Bible" we are to study. So many Bible studies are about everything but the Bible. ('Nuff said.)

#8: Make prayer a priority. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. (Luke 11:1-4) A Bible study without prayer is like a car engine without oil. You can drive around for a little while, but eventually the car goes kaput. (Now there's a picture men can understand!)

#9: Have an outreach goal. "Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) I think it's interesting what Jesus didn't say: "fishers of women." (Of course, it's implied in the focus on men.) But we're meant to lead. (Men are!) We're meant to lead in our homes, our church, our community. We're also meant to lead in the area of reaching the unchurched (lost). And in our outreach we must not lose sight of the men ("fishers of men"). Answer the question: "How can our group of men reach out to other men with the love of Jesus?" Then implement.

#10: Accept men as they are. All men will not have the same level of relationship with God. (There was John the Beloved who was closest to Christ. Then the three: Peter, James and John. Then the Twelve.) Have "Jesus eyes" as to what men can become. (Peter would go from vacillating to solid ~ a rock.) Point men in the direction God has for them. Help them to feel like they're a part of something significant/big (not numbers ~ God's cause!) and have something to offer/contribute to it.

#11: Be faithful. It's all we really have control over ~ ourselves. We need to be the Gospel we're teaching/preaching. We need to not be looking at pornography. We need to not be hiding secret sins. We need to be accountable to leadership (for our own protection and the men we'll be ministering to). Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be genuine. Be holy.

#12: Just do it. Sometimes you just need to step out of the boat and do what God's laid on your heart. The going is never easy if it's something worthwhile. (The devil will match you at every turn.) And men will say stupid things. (I know I have.) They will come and go at the drop of a hat no matter how good the group is or popular the leader. (If they abandoned Jesus, they'll abandon you.) But there is One who will never leave or forsake. (Hebrews 13:5c) "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) \o/

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Blogger Richard said...

Thanks, Mike, as always you pack a great deal of information into a really tight spot and I love that about you. I wonder if other men are like that?

I'll chew on this for a bit.

5:59 AM  

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