“From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15–17)
You may or may not be familiar with how Seedbed and New Room began. As a student in seminary I used to be an intern on what then Dean of Chapel, J. D. Walt, called the Worship Design Team. One of the things J. D. would often draw attention to is the power inherent in a community of people that get on the same page of Scripture together. At the time, we published a short Scripture reader for the forty days of Lent together. Those simple readers had a profound impact on our community and my life personally. The first reader gave way to many more. They were the early seeds of what became the Seedbed Daily Text (a daily reflection on Scripture written by J. D. Walt). They were what convinced us that the larger church in our tribe needed helpful resources (Seedbed) and greater connection with each other (New Room and eventually discipleship bands).
We are trying to hold a deep reality in tension: People do not just need content to grow as disciples, they need purposeful connection. The evidence stacks up for us. We are the most resourced Christians that ever lived. We have more access to information than any follower of Jesus who proceeded us. Yet the sum total of all this information is that we actually seem to be understanding less and less of the Bible, and research indicates that the average Christian in North America is stalled or flat-lined in their spiritual growth.
So if you and I have more access to content than ever before, why are we not growing? Seriously, you would never actually need to leave your house because YouTube has most of what you could ever want to learn. So why go to church? Why get in a discipleship band? Because content alone is not the answer. We need connection. We need the kinds of relationships that can harness spiritual growth. It is content and connection. In fact, we place the connection first. It is connection with content. In the same manner we do not merely need information about God, we need to know him relationally and experientially. Being a disciple is about living out a life of following Jesus.
So when we talk about reading Scripture daily or daily devotional content, we think of it as being an enhancement to our connection. What we learn about and from God should get lived out in community. Therefore, content is not intended to be the center of our band meeting interactions. Of course it comes through in our question about how Scripture is speaking in your life, but it is circumferential (the content or reading encircle the band). It provides grist for the mill. Meat for the tacos, if you will.
Reading even a small amount of Scripture or a or a short study each day is so important for our spiritual growth. John Wesley once wrote, “O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises, whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way.” This union of simple daily practices with weekly support in community has a powerful and cumulative effect.
Perhaps your band could read through a book of the Bible together by reading no more than one chapter each day. Another approach is to read the Seedbed’s Daily Text or another one of our band studies. Each one begins with a short passage of Scripture. But rather than rushing past the Scripture text, consider reading through it several times reflectively before reading the rest of that day’s reading.
In our Discipleship Bands app, the band can unlock all of the studies available for a small fee. More studies are being added with regularity. This all aims at connection with content.
God, in reality I am constantly taking in information from media, my phone, books, and advertisements. Help me intention to set apart a fixed time each day to read and pray. Help me to develop this as a regular habit in my life. Amen.
Which comes most naturally for you, content or connection? Would you most naturally rather read a book or go to coffee with friends? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
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