Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of God dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
1. Peace. A bible study is a not a seminar or classroom – it is supposed to have a relational element as primary. So when we spend time together, we are not wasting it when we talk and get to know each other.
2. Thanks. Paul three times underlines the theme of thankfulness or gratitude. In a culture which is fundamentally about gratifying desires for more or newer or better, the theme in Colossians is constant gratitude for the fullness, finality and perfection of the gospel.
3. Bible. It is a bible study, after all. I go to book groups where we all discuss our views on a novel – it’s interesting and fun, but not life-changing. But this book is God speaking (‘the Word of God’), and so our fundamental attitude will be to be humble, and expect to obey it.
4. Mutual teaching. In some bible studies, one person does all the speaking and other people nod or give a simple yes/no answer. It’s like a small scale sermon. In others, there’s good discussion, but the leader is outside it, guiding or controlling but not affected.
Paul says we are to teach one another – and that includes the leader being taught as well.
5. Praise. Small groups can find this hard, but one way to make sure we are delighting in God’s word is to express our gratitude by singing, whether old, new, biblical or fresh. Paul here gives a deliberately wide range to what we can sing – so let’s find a musician in the group and give it a bash!
6. Service. Notice how Paul sneaked that in? ‘Whatever you do in word or deed.’ Whatever your bible study group is, it is never just a bible study – it’s a bible study-and-action group.
Think it through:
Take each of those six areas in turn, and consider how your bible study group could raise its standards:
- Mutual teaching