A few years ago, the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago conducted a huge survey investigating how followers of Jesus grow spiritually. They surveyed over 250 000 people across thousands of churches. Their assumption going into it was that the more that they could bring people who were far away from God into church gatherings and activities, the more that those people would grow spiritually. However, their REVEAL study showed that the primary way people grow spiritually (and become more like Christ) is through personal, intentional and regular reading and engagement with the bible.
Yesterday we launched a new sermon series on the book of Jonah in our Sunday morning gatherings for the KingsGate Kingston AM community. Our hope is that the community will jump in and engage with this series in a far deeper and more transformative way than just listening to the Sunday preaching. So here are some thoughts, and questions for you to reflect on and perhaps to discuss within your Connect Group this week.
In launching the series, I tried to introduce us to a story that I think is incredibly relatable, challenging and subversive. If you missed the Sunday sermon, perhaps you’d like to listen to the Podcast here.
Discussion and Reflection
- Watch the Bible Project’s video on the book of Jonah (below). What surprises you? What had you never before noticed or thought about?
- Read through the short story of Jonah in the bible. Discuss what jumps out at you from the get-go.
- What are your thoughts about the ‘big fish’? Do you take a more liberal view (ie “Of course there’s no way that Jonah was in a fish for 3 days and lived to tell the tale!“) or conservative view (ie “if the bible says it happened like this, then that’s exactly how it happened!”) of the story? Is your approach to scripture in general more liberal or conservative? What might your blindspots be because of your approach? Do you know someone with a different approach? Perhaps ask them some questions and seek to listen, grow, learn and be stretched.
- Is there a way you feel God’s inviting you to engage with the bible in a more meaningful, transformative way? Perhaps you want to discuss this with others, to hold you accountable and to go on a journey together.
Tools for Reading the Bible Meaningfully
I discussed in the sermon some fantastic tools to help people engage with the bible in a meaningful way. I wrote a blog last week with some more detail and links. If you’re interested, have a read here.
I hope this is helpful and getting you excited for the rest of the journey through this interesting, strange and yet surprisingly challenging bible story!