On January 17-18, 2015, the Philippine Family of Churches held its first Bible Talk Leaders Workshop at CCT Tagaytay. It was attended by 604 disciples from the Metro Manila Christian Church and provincial churches. As a young disciple, I was amazed to see hundreds of disciples whom God used to take care of His people. When I was first asked to lead a faith group, I was initially hesitant and overwhelmed because it meant I will be leading souls that are valuable to God. I doubted myself if I can really do it. But with the guidance and help of our ministry leaders and close friends, I started to gain confidence that God maybe really wanted me to take on this privilege to serve Him by serving His people.
The opening lesson shared by Koko Enrile on "Group Faith" was very powerful. He showed a video clip on how strong Manny Pacquiao's punch is. The strength of the punch was measured by scientific methods and it was found that a punch from Manny is equivalent to a bullet fired by a shotgun. That was amazing! But Koko went on by asking, "What could possibly amaze God?" He shared the story of the centurion's faith in Luke 7:1-10. In verse 9, the Bible says, "When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said 'I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.'" The scripture says that God was amazed by the centurion's faith. But aside from his faith, there was also the faith of the elders and friends—an example of group faith. Jesus was on his way to Israel but through the faith of the elders, Jesus was convinced to heal the servant (verse 4). This story demonstrates that group faith can do amazing things. Altogether, group faith can pull us through and can save others. The elders had faith that they can convince Jesus to come over while the centurion's friends carried out the message. The healing of the servant by Jesus was a result of the concerted efforts and group faith of the centurion, his friends, and the elders. Group faith can pull us through when we feel weak and faithless. The essence of being in a group is for us to help one another to be closer to God and have a faith that can amaze Him. This made me realize the importance of building group faith. Sometimes, I can’t rely on my own faith especially during hard times but I can count on my group's faith, which individually can be as small as a mustard seed but altogether can make a huge difference.
EFFECTIVE BIBLE STUDIES
The opening lesson was followed by split classes with topics on (i) conducting dynamic Bible talks, (ii) effective Bible study, (iii) delegation, (iv) conflict resolution, and (v) counseling.
As a young servant, I decided to attend the lesson on Effective Bible Studies by Rolan Monje. In my three years as a disciple, I was able to sit in and lead various Bible studies but have not really pondered how to carry them out 'effectively'. Rolan gave us practical tips on how to have effective Bible studies with people. What convicted me was when he asked who among us in the group memorize the First Principles and not even a hand. Again he asked who among us memorize the scriptures on Discipleship study and only a few raised their hands. The First Principles should be basic for a disciple. He should be able to share it confidently with other people even without a guide. Rolan reinforced the importance of knowing all the scriptures in the First Principles by heart for us to effectively share our faith to others. I realized this is what I should repent on—to memorize all the scriptures in the First Principles.
Some practicals in carrying out effective Bible studies include:
- Study the person, not just the study.
- Build relationship with the person.
- Share your transformation.
- Focus on the heart, not on the character.
- Avoid explaining too much. Ask questions and allow them to share their insights
- Be positive. Give compliments such as "I believe that you want to follow Jesus…"
- Build up the next study to excite the person, and
- Encourage them to finish the series of studies.
The message shared by Rolan during the Sunday Service is humbling. In Psalm 23:1, David declares "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." This Scripture reminds us of our sheephood before God. Rolan enumerated some characteristics of a sheep: (i) the weakest mammal, (ii) they don’t have sense of retaliation, (iii) they have small brains, (iv) no sense of danger, and (v) no sense of time. The nothingness, lowliness and humility of a sheep are highlighted by these characteristics. The Scripture reminds us that we too are God's sheep. We should see ourselves as sheep needing a shepherd who will guide us in every step of the way. If we forget our sheephood, then we give way to pride. We should be reminded that without God, we are nothing. Another important point emphasized in the lesson is our need to stay close to the shepherd, our God. In verse 4 of Psalm 23, David says "…your rod and your staff comfort me." The rod and staff represent the things in life that God uses to discipline us. Sometimes, it can be painful but definitely beneficial if we acknowledge and trust God's ways.
Overall, attending the workshop gave me a better understanding of my role as a servant. Effective and strong leaders are those who walk with God.