In my introduction to a new small group resource I write: "My prayer is that as followers of Jesus we take the Bible out of the pew into the pub, out of the church into the café and out of our private quiet time, into noisy public places. The reason for this hope pumping away within me is because we live in a desperately unreached nation where the majority of people remain clueless as to the best news this world has been graced with."
That’s why I’ve worked together with The Bible Society to produce something called Big Hearted Lyfe: a small group resource which takes people deeper into the Bible.
Furthermore, and what makes it somewhat unusual is that to do ‘Big hearted Lyfe’ you don’t meet in the safe confines of your home or church building. The idea is to meet in groups in pubs, coffee shops and cafés.
It is within these public spaces and as people spend time reading and reflecting on Scripture, and selecting a relevant ’challenge’ to experience throughout the week that encounters with others happen.
One group who met in MacDonald’s where asked to ‘read those lovely words from that book again’.
They read the passage form the Bible again for a lady who hadn’t heard any words read before from it.
So, how about taking up the challenge of doing a small home group differently?
It’s easy: 1) Meet with your friends in a public place 2) Study God’s word 3) Connect with people around you.
That’s it. Simple.
While there are some dares after each session, we hope that Christians may respond to the passage in their own way and ask: “What is it that God is saying to us and asking us to do for those around us and for our friends and family?”
When I met up with a friend to think and pray about the new ‘Big Hearted Lyfe’ booklet we chose a garden centre café and high street coffee shop as places where we would work throughout the day. As we wrote down our ideas and looked at the Bible we encountered the following in-between writing, praying and talking:
• An invitation to join a couple at their table who we had chatted to in the queue. They were intrigued as to what we were doing.
• We were welcomed to pray for healing for a man who had had a stroke and who was walking with discomfort.
• We were asked to open two bottles of juice for an elderly lady who was struggling to unscrew the caps.
• We chatted to a member of our local church who asked about Lyfe and life!
• We met people who I knew from the school gate and we spoke about what we were doing and why. She was intrigued!
• We listened to the manager of the coffee shop as he spoke about some heart ache he was encountering.
That’s the beauty of being amongst people who are not Christians when we meet and study God’s word together. Conversations start and people have questions!
For more information check out the lyfe website which has a wealth of resources for groups to use, tackling key themes such as prayer, living authentically, social action and connecting faith with everyday life. There are also lots of supporting resources and video interviews featuring Pete Greig, Brian McLaren, Mark Greene, Paula Gooder and lots of others. Check out www.lyfe.org.uk
And go and have fun!
Chris Duffett is President of the Baptist Union in Great Britain and national evangelist with The Light Project, a group of people who aim to actively demonstrate the Christian message and train others to do the same. His book ‘Big Hearted’ shares a vision of a big Hearted: God, Church and evangelism.