As part of our Biblefresh initiative here at Teddington Baptist Church, we centred the evening worship around a ‘Bible surgery’ yesterday evening. People arrived at church clutching their favourite, familiar, Bibles to find the chairs gathered around the communion table so that we could actually chat to each other. After some introductory worship, people were encouraged to talk about the Bible they had brought with them – why they liked it, what made them choose it, and maybe even point out some of the things they keep in it. After that we shared some of our difficulties with reading God’s remarkable book. A selection is listed below:
- I can’t find the time
- Its too familiar
- Very uncomfortable with the description of battles in the Old Testament
- How do the historical books apply today?
- Why doesn’t the Bible fill in the gaps and tell us the rest of the details about the lives of some of its main characters? For instance, we know nothing about Paul’s family life
- The Old Testament is very repetitive
- I want to be like some of the characters in the Bible but I can’t
- The dangers of applying the Bible ‘professionally’ and not personally
After this we reviewed some of the resources available for this Biblefresh year, including lyfe studies, 12 words, BigBible and others, right down to the low-tech end of a diary and pencil! We then proceeded to a brief study of Isaiah 55 v. 6 – 11 and spent time praying for each other before sharing communion. At the close of the service, people assembled their bibles for a ‘group photo’:
The approach was a valuable one, and would bear repetition in other churches, I’m sure. One or two things to bear in mind though:
- Make sure people are invited in advance to bring their Bible with them.
- The Bible should be the old familiar one they habitually use – not necessarily the one which would usually be seen in public
- Keep the initial discussion light as you ‘compare’ bibles
- As the discussion about problems and challenges unfolds – don’t rush to ‘solve’ them in the first instance – just let people talk
- As far as possible keep the discussion ‘horizontal’, so that any advice is shared ‘through’ you, rather than’from you’.
Many Christians suffer from a chronic ‘hardening of the ‘oughteries’, where their life is a collection of spiritual ‘oughts’ rather than joyful possibilities. Sadly, for many reading the Bible is on that particular list. Anything we can do to lift the guilt and suggest practical advice on a way forward is to the good.