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Not too busy for the Bible

different make-up of people every week and other members hardly attending; • different levels of Christian maturity and understanding; • relational dynamics and disharmony; • theological differences and tensions. “Most dysfunctional groups have a majority of people who are partly engaged,” Mr Poulos says. “When you turn up and have people with arms folded, it says, ‘I’m distant from you’. Or, someone may inadvertently say something that you take really personally.”

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND? Mr Poulos believes all Bible studies have a life cycle, and draws his observations from research into group development. The Bruce Tuckman team development model outlines four key stages of a group life cycle: forming, norming, storming and performing. It’s important to recognise which stage your group is in and contribute appropriately. “One thing to help with Bible study is to make sure we are praying for the other person in our group right from the early days,” he says. “The group life cycle matters and you have a contribution to make towards that. What you’re doing is putting funds into the goodwill bag that will help you for the rest of the group’s life.” Be mindful of the positive influence you can have on the group. “As you say, ‘I pray for you on Friday mornings, how can I pray for you this week?’ that activates the prayer life in other people,” Mr Poulos says. “There’s often not much reason why you’re together, but the divine answer is that God has put this group together.” Keep reflecting on the blessing of gathering as God’s people. “It’s an incredible honour,” Mr Poulos says. “The challenge is not what I get out of church, but what I can contribute. [Gathering] is a divine blessing for me and others, and we have to be reminded of it as well.”

LEAVING IS NOT A RASH DECISION It’s important that, even if the group is tough, our exit should not be hasty. “If it’s tough for you, it’s tough for the whole group,” he says. “In the first instance you need to ask, what can I do to help the group? What do you do to help the leader? Keep praying for them, and let them know you’re praying for them. Ask them how you can help.” Sometimes, sadly, the relational dynamics of a group mean that it is appropriate to leave. “Romans 13 says, as far as possible, strive to live at peace with one another,” Mr Poulos says. “Sometimes there are issues that make it really hard. Sometimes there is the blessing of departure – either you or other people. “First of all, strive to change yourself and if that doesn’t work there are times that you move on. Don’t do this reflection on your own. It’s easy to justify ourselves and to put down another person. It’s always good to have somebody else who can help you with that, asking someone to check how you’re thinking and hold you accountable to thinking it through Christianly.” An important element, he says, is to recognise “that we are both Christian and creatures. And so God gathers us together around his word, and by the encouragement with each other around his word he grows us as Christians.”  SC *not their real names 26

Kara Hartley

I

f I could go back and have a conversation with

20-year-old me, one area of life I’d love to sort out is my daily Bible reading. Not just about cultivating good disciplines, but more fundamentally about what’s at the very heart of what I’m doing when I read. Personal reading of the Bible ought to be the bread and butter, if you like, of the Christian life. We all know of stories in ages past where Christians would give over a significant amount of time for daily reading, and the idea of “No Bible, no breakfast” is still key for many people. At the beginning of the year my social media feed was peppered with suggestions about Bible reading plans for the coming 12 months. There are people out there who are clearly very organised and have created their own plans. Others offered links to programs developed by various organisations. All are extremely helpful in encouraging us to keep reading our bibles. Yet it seems that for many (is it possible to say the majority?) of us, those who love God and his word, there is a genuine struggle to “fit in” daily Bible reading. Rather than give another top 10 reasons or ways to read your Bible, I thought it would be good to visit the fundamental reasons why we read the Bible. It’s not rocket science! We have God’s very words written for us for our instruction, help, encouragement and understanding. They teach and remind us of God’s character and nature (Ex 34; Ps 86:15). The Bible declares God’s love for us and teaches us that without Christ we are God’s enemies, and reconciliation with God only comes through trusting in his death for us (Rom 5:10; 1 Cor 15). The Bible instructs and teaches us about living as God’s people, as well as rebuking us (Ps 1; Matt 7:24-28; Ps 119:9-16, SouthernCross 

February 2021

Profile for Anglican Media Sydney

Southern Cross FEBRUARY 2021  

The news magazine for Sydney Anglicans

Southern Cross FEBRUARY 2021  

The news magazine for Sydney Anglicans