14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV)
If we are taking seriously Sunday School/Small Group Bible Study is a place for transformation (instead of knowledge) and a community of faith (instead of simply a classroom experience), then we need to begin understanding how it can be a discipling process. Sunday School/Small Group is one of the church’s ministries where biblical application, more intimate relationships and ongoing learning can enhance the transformative process to be more like Christ.
Mike Bream & Steve Cockram in their book, Building a Discipling Culture, gives a process of biblical discipleship through the lens of different shapes. I wanted to explain the first shape (a circle) as a discipling process straight from the life of Jesus. They discuss Mark 1:14-15 to talk about an interrupted time (Kairos is the Greek word) in which we see God at work and the concept of repentance as a change of heart/mind/will/behavior. One pastor calls them speed bumps that should cause us to slow down and see what God is doing. Whether it is something negative going on in our lives or positive, God wants us to grow and become more like Christ.
I often use the example in Exodus 3 where Moses sees a burning bush, but observes that it is not consumed by the fire. When he gets closer to observe, God speaks to him! He tells him that the ground he is walking on is Holy ground. He is to take off his shoes. Elizabeth Barrett Browning puts it this way:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
The major focus in terms of our conversation on Sunday School/Small Group as discipleship is a six step process of change with the circle: Observe, Reflect, Discuss, Plan, Accountability & Act. Teachers, I want to encourage you as you prepare a lesson to see how these steps would impact Bible study as a transformative experience.
Help students Observe for themselves what God is revealing in the passage (Kairos Moments)…keeping in mind the context of that day.
Ask questions that lead students to Reflect on what God is saying to them through the passage.
Divide into small groups or partners for students to Discuss what God is saying to them about a change in their lives, and come up with a Plan to help them with that change.
Encourage students to find a prayer partner to talk with during the week to encourage each other and pray for each other for Accountability that leads to Action. More follow-up can be done during the week through e-mails, phone calls, notes, Facebook…etc. on how they are doing.