In September I will begin a 12 week series on Daniel. The Elevation Community Groups will be doing a study of Daniel using the Matthias Media Small Group Study at the bottom of this post. I have written discussion guides for the community groups in the past, but this guide is too good to pass up. I will, however, provide some focus questions related to the sermons. Why are they good? These studies combine serious engagement with the Scripture with guided prayer and discussion for the group. I am encouraging other ministries in our church, and even individuals and families, engaged in small group study to consider making Daniel your group study for the fall as well. Below are some points that reflect upon this suggestion.
- The study guide is really good. It may liven up your group. Small groups need a boost sometimes. I am often asked by leaders how they can improve their groups, either in terms of content or dynamics. Using this guide is one way to improve your group.
- Daniel is an exceedingly rich and important book. There is no way to exhaust its contents in a 12 week preaching series. Deep truths of Scripture need to be soaked in, prayed over, discussed with friends and worked out in our lives. A small group will provide more time to study, unpack and reflect upon this piece of sacred scripture. The more you do this with other Christians, the more God will transform you.
- Sunday morning worship services are to be consummations, not one time events. "Uhhh...what does that mean?" Good question. Our little branch of the Christian family (Reformed Presbyterians) always has maintained that God is to be worshiped throughout the week privately and in families and corporately on Sunday. The corporate worship is to be a high point that we have been building toward the whole week. Most of us (including pastors) no longer think this way. We think about Sunday as a singular event, disconnected with the rest of the life of the church. This mindset toward the corporate worship service can contribute to the feeling that many evangelicals have regarding their spiritual lives: a feeling of being drained, fragmented and disconnected from the body of Christ.
- "Aren't you being kind of, well, dominant, suggesting that other ministries study the same thing that you are preaching on?" No. This suggestion flows from my desire as a pastor to see us grow spiritually together, to see a church comprised of people from increasingly diverse spiritual and cultural backgrounds be able to be spiritually unified by a common bond of worship and study of Scripture, and to provide a tangible way that we as a church can "improve upon the preaching of the Word" (to use the language of the Larger Catechism). Actually, I used to FEAR (as in five minutes before writing this blog post) being perceived as dominant, self-aggrandizing, not respecting every member ministry, etc. And, sometimes these types of suggestions can come from that type of spiritual disposition in the pastor. I hope that is not the case with me. Unfortunately when it comes to preaching the pastor is the one who has the double duty of (a) preaching and (b) reminding people of the importance of preaching. At the end of the day preaching is not important because it is me doing it, but because God has promised to bless it.
- "Are you saying that I have a low view of corporate worship if I don't want to study Daniel in my small group?" No. I am saying that choosing to study Daniel in your small group may lead to rich spiritual benefit for your group and may increase your joy in worship and sense of belonging to the body of Christ because you will be sojourning with other pilgrims in the same land of Scripture.