by Corey Bullock – Ahwatukee Campus Pastor
In my experience I have found that people would rather hear from God than from me! This statement probably goes without saying; however, I think I needed to be made aware of this. I’m not saying that God doesn’t use me or others to speak on his behalf. All I’m saying is that most of the time my words are inadequate or narrow.
Throughout my years in ministry I have primarily centered programs on the things that I have to say. There is certainly a platform where my preparation and time with the Lord proves to be a catalyst in the lives of others. Recently, though, I have seen something taking place in our Ahwatukee Ironman that has made me question the way I approach teaching.
When we first opened the Ahwatukee Campus (3 years ago last Wednesday), I really wanted to begin with our men’s study – Ironman. However, I really didn’t have the time to prepare a lesson each week and the format wouldn’t be conducive for a handful of guys. So, out of necessity, I decided not to go the traditional teaching format and to simply do a Bible study format. Men would literally show up and spend the first 30 minutes reading one chapter of the Bible on their own using the S.O.A.P. method. Over the next 30 minutes, I would invite the guys to simply share what God had revealed to them in their reading.
As guys would start to share their thoughts, you would see it resonate with another guy in the group. It would either bring confirmation to their own reading or clarification to questions they had. Others would bring up insights that I totally glossed over. Some would ask questions that left the group seeking further exploration. The result of simply getting guys to read the Word of God together was a collective understanding, application and retention that was far superior to that same time given to a lecture or individual study.
We have continued that same format, but this past semester I felt like we were lacking something. Our gatherings on Wednesday morning were maxing out at about 20 guys. Each of these guys was learning how to study the Word together, but none of them were really teaching other guys what they had learned.
So, I gave the guys a challenge: find a couple other guys and start reading the Bible with them on a weekly basis just like we are doing on Wednesday morning. In preparation for this, we started to sit in smaller groups on our Wednesday meeting – because it doesn’t take a large group to have a good study. One of the guys most apprehensive to this idea happened to be the first to venture out to try this. He has been meeting in a smoke shop on Friday mornings at 6:30am. This past week, his gathering had more guys in attendance than our established Wednesday morning gathering. We now have a gathering available Monday-Friday with a different guy leading each one (Check out the specifics here). Collectively, we have doubled the number of guys reading together each week!
I am learning that sometimes the best thing that I can do for others is to make an appointment with God on their behalf and expect Him to show up.