We have two very different Bible Study groups, each exploring the same material - The Big-hearted Lyfe from the Bible Society, prepared by Chris Duffett. Whilst I had some reservations after the first study with the first group, I am now more comfortable with the material, not least as we have some brilliant people taking a turn at facilitating.
One group meets fortnightly on a Thursday afternoon, and we are now half way through the series. We have had some wonderful discussions and shared some profound thoughts. Those who come along are older than me and numbers range from 4 - 8 but usually around half a dozen. We have grown a little since last year and now have one very brave man attending! Each week ends, after prayer, with tea and home-baking or posh-shop bought cakes! Laughter and love permeate the meeting, and it is always a delight to be there.
The other group meets monthly on a Monday evening and has now completed two studies. Discussions are wide-ranging and complex, enquiring minds refusing simplistic answers or trivial explorations. It is a large group of around 10-14 and ages range from early twenties through to folk who are long retired. We begin with tea and snacks and engage in a variety of approaches - private reflection, talking in twos and plenary work. This group has a very different feel to the afternoon one, largely because it is new and still working itself out, and is every bit as enjoyable, just in a different way.
I've never really been a fan of attending Bible studies as "the minister" because I feel it skews the dynamic and can undermine the leader(s) but I do love these two groups. And they serve as a wonderful illustration of communal reading and reflecting in an authentically Baptist way of being 'at liberty under Christ'.
Sadly I will miss the next couple of afternoon studies due to prior commitments, but know they will be well guided and enjoyed by those taking part.