A common question raised by people unfamiliar with missional community living is, So, when do you guys do Bible study?
An MC gathering may consist of a meal and conversation around the table, sharing life stories, praying for one another, a kids movie night, serving in the neighborhood, and yes, studying the Bible.
A first-timer showing up to an MC gathering that doesn’t happen to include a Bible study may feel duped. I thought I was coming to a small group for Bible study. They assumed Bible study was going to be the focus of every gathering.
Make no mistake, the Word is central to MC life, and it permeates and guides everything the MC is does. However, an in-depth Bible study for Christians every time they gather is not what MC’s are about.
It would be helpful to define what a missional community, or MC, is for the benefit of readers not familiar with the term. An MC is a group of people who radically reorient their lives around the gospel and then live as a family sent on mission together in the everyday. It’s not your typical small group, it’s not a Bible study group, or support group. It’s gospel-centered family, in community, and on mission. And they do study the Bible.
The difference is, Bible study is not done simply for the sake of studying the Bible. It’s done with purpose. There are enough Bible studies going on to take up every evening of your week, not to mention those on Sundays. And I know people who will attend every one if possible. The result is some pretty smart Christians. That’s about it. They don’t have time to obey what they’ve been learning, because they’re attending all those Bible studies, or they see Bible study itself as the ultimate goal and measure of spiritual maturity.
The study of the Bible must always be connected to missional engagement. The Bible is a book to be lived out and obeyed. Bible study must either result in missional engagement, or it must be the result of missional engagement. Let’s unpack those ideas.
Bible study will result in missional engagement.
When we study the Bible with the intent of living out what we learn, our study will transform us. The Bible is not just for our information, it is for our transformation. Approach the study of scripture with the view that God is speaking to us and telling us what’s on his heart. Now, what are we going to do about it?
The Bible is not just for our information, it’s for our transformation
Our study should lead us to answering these questions: What is God saying, and what do we do about it? Is there something we need to believe? Is there something we need to do? Is there something we need to know? Is there something we need to stop?
Your study of the Bible should result in missional engagement.
Bible study will be the result of missional engagement
As your MC is living on mission together, sometimes questions are raised. Sometimes you’ll encounter challenges. What can we do to deal with this circumstance? How do we answer this question? Your life of missional engagement should drive you back to the Word of God to find answers, solutions, encouragement, and motivation. An MC on mission is going to run into situations and needs that require some time together in Bible study.
So, you see, the Bible is central to the life of an MC. Just because it’s not the prominent feature at every single gathering does not mean Bible study takes a backseat. If anything, it’s far more important in the MC setting than in the typical small group setting.