‘I want to do something impressive’. That was the thought running through my mind at the start of last year. I had just finished four years at Moore Theological College and was starting out in paid ministry. I felt the weight of responsibility and wanted to capture the attention of the women at my church. Not completely in a self-seeking way, although I’m sure that was a part of it, I genuinely wanted to see people grow in their relationships with God and each other, and so I was working out the best, most impressive way to do that.
My minister had kindly encouraged me to just get to know the women at church as one of my first priorities. He really took the pressure off and I appreciated that a lot. Still, my mind was ticking over what to do next – what could I bring to serve the people at church?
As I was thinking, I went to the EQUIP women’s conference with a number of women from church. Over the years I’ve been encouraged and challenged by the faithful Bible teachers at EQUIP in various ways but one thing particularly struck me that day – it is God’s word that changes lives. It is God’s word which transforms, which matures his people. It’s not a particularly shocking truth, but it was one I needed reminding of. Why was I trying to think of something to help people grow, away from focusing on God’s word?
We organized a women’s brunch for July and one of the things I challenged people to do was to meet in triplets during August to read through Colossians. I wanted to encourage them to read God’s word because I was, and am, convicted that it is the Scriptures which change people. For those who might not have ever read the Bible in smaller groups than Bible study, I thought an epistle would be a good place to start. Similarly, meeting with two people rather than one I hoped would be less intimidating though still reasonable to find a common time, and committing for only one month might feel more achievable. I basically wanted to introduce the idea of Bible reading triplets so that people would be challenged by how great it is to meet under God’s word.
I was very encouraged that around 40 women signed up to participate in our ‘Bible reading challenge’! This is a testament to the great Bible teaching they have had at church over the years because they saw what I had needed reminding of: that spending time in God’s word is soothing to the soul.
Here are some of the observations I made a couple of weeks after the scheduled finishing time:
1) Even with only three people it was hard for many groups to find a time each week! So it took some groups 5 or 6 weeks to meet four times.
2) Many people who were not a part of the groups (including some of the men!) were really encouraged to see women meeting up during the week to read Colossians.
3) It helped women get to know other women they wouldn’t usually spend time with. Though it was not my intention, many planned their triplets with those were sitting next to at the brunch, and not necessarily their close friends.
4) I know some women found it encouraging reading the Bible and praying with others in a smaller group and also cherished the accountability it provided.
It is God’s word that equips us and moulds us and matures us. These ‘Bible reading bursts’ in triplets were a twist on the idea of meeting one-to-one to read the Bible, which I encourage and endorse. Knowing that for most people it was a positive experience, I hope that many will entertain the idea of doing the same monthly challenge later in the year. It would be great to get our men involved too!