For a church our size, we have a strong core of women’s Bible study classes. Five times a week, ladies from our church gather together in the community to study God’s Word. And that doesn’t include the ladies who join their families in life group Bible study time. I pray we thirst for more of Scripture!
Which leaves me wondering sometimes: What is a proper measurement for a successful Bible study?
You hear if even one heart is touched, the Bible study was worth it. True. But I’ll be honest, I prepare for Wednesday night Bible study every week hoping more than just one person joins me. We are tempted to count success in bigger numbers. Have we outgrown the little room in the library with glass windows where our group meets? Not yet.
In my years of walking with God, I have learned if you ask questions like this often enough and long enough, He’ll give you an answer. Thanks to the thoughts uttered by a few women in class, I now know the measure of a successful Bible study.
We were finishing our summer book. Often in the summer, attendance can become sporadic, so we select a book to read together. That way, ladies on vacation can keep caught up by reading the chapters we cover in their absence. Going around the room, each lady offered up what they had learned from the time of studying together.
Lucy took a turn. She said, “I just really like your Bible study because it makes me want to read more of my Bible.” Trained in humility, I got a little embarrassed. I wasn’t fishing for a compliment of my teaching style here. I said, “Well, isn’t that what all Bible studies do?” Lucy shook her head and Margaret quickly interjected, “They certainly don’t.” Point taken.
What an absolute perfect measurement! Whatever book, event, resource we use, our calling is to make people want to read more of their Bible. Not just to complete their homework or read a verse during an event, but anxious to look up more when they get home. Lifelong students of the Bible.
Further insight into measuring success in Bible study came from another lady in class. This lady attended our church regularly but came to Bible study for the first time last spring. I am often intimidated when these strong Christian ladies show up because immediately the enemy whispers internally, “What could you possibly have to offer this mature woman in the faith?” I have learned this crafty trick of his and so I keep plugging. Knowing at some point I will see traces of why God placed a certain lady in our study. I always see a reason. Often multiple reasons.
In walks Sandy. I knew her face from church and from singing in the Resurrection Sunday choir with her a few times, but didn’t know her that well. She fit right in, talked about bringing an unchurched friend with her in the future. We had a good night of Bible study. The following Sunday, Sandy pulled me aside at church. With tears in her eyes, she shared her story:
I went to a Christian concert recently and had a great worship experience! At one point, the singer asked the question, “Who do you have praying for you?” I realized with a start I couldn’t think of anyone. This left me unsettled. I saw where you were starting a new study, so I thought I would join you ladies.
And on that very first night of Bible study, one of the very first things you asked me, “What can we pray about in your life, Sandy?” You had no way of knowing it at the time, but just asking that question was an answer to my prayer. I had finally found a group of women that would pray for me.
Another way of measuring our ministry’s success is to assess how good are we at praying for one another. In our group, we spend time taking prayer requests, sharing praises and actually praying together.
I can improve in this area.
Then, when we leave one another, hustling through the rest of our week, pray for one another every time that person comes to mind. Let’s track prayer requests and be specific in our intercession. Celebrate answered prayers together. Prayer remains a mystery but its effectiveness does not. God listens! We must pray.
These two lessons, learned from two ladies in Bible study, have become my measuring stick. After our time of study, does an individual want more time in the Word? And are we praying for one another well? The numbers will take care of themselves when we do our job well.