You’ll often hear Focus mentioned in church services. It’s what we call our midweek Bible studies. I have the privilege and joy of getting to co-lead a group. Not every group or leader is the same, but here are some of my reflections on the joys and challenges of focus, and what God has taught me.
We do life together
I’ve been part of a Focus group since I joined The Globe Church in 2017 and it was a great decision. Over those years I’ve witnessed firsthand how Jesus brings us together into a church to be family to one another. I’ve witnessed the care that people show one another, and the interest they take in each other’s lives.
We struggle together
I’m a reasonably open book. I talk regularly about what I’m struggling with and where the Holy Spirit has been convicting and challenging me.
The groups I’ve been a part of have encouraged me in my struggle, by small acts like texting me after to say ‘thank you’ for sharing. I’ve experienced the restorative, healing power of a culture of honouring one another’s struggles.
We learn together
Sometimes the material we’re studying might be confusing (think back to that series on 1 Kings or Romans), or the conversation has gone in a completely different direction to what I anticipated (and so prepared for).
In those times, I’ve learnt so much from other people as they’ve shared the insights God has given them about his truth, and how they’ve encountered him.
I became a Christian about five years ago and I was asked to lead a Focus group a few years ago. I thought, surely it would be better to have someone who’s been a Christian for longer than 2 minutes lead Bible studies? I felt ill-equipped and like an imposter.
But God has taught me that it’s not about me or how competent I am. It’s the Holy Spirit who guides me as I prepare the study and lead a discussion. When I’m confronted with something I don’t understand (which happens A LOT) I turn to pray. I’ve started writing my questions as prayers. ‘Lord, I don’t understand, please teach me.’
Striving for perfect understanding
We like clarity and knowledge. I’d often feel like I’d done a bad job if people didn’t leave with a fool proof understanding.
But God’s plan is bigger. He wants to lead us deeper into a relationship with Him, not just fill our heads with knowledge (though growing in knowledge is not a bad thing!).
In the parable of the sower, which we studied recently, I was convicted of this as I prepared: God’s truth comes to us in a form that needs us to enter into a relationship with him.
So if we leave and we don’t totally “get it” that’s not a bad thing, because we can leave praying ‘Lord, teach me’.
Serving when it’s just plain hard
Some weeks the battle is raging a bit more fiercely, or I’m just really tired, and I don’t feel like I have the energy, strength, or desire to lead or take part.
In those moments I’ve felt God’s call to surrender to him as the gentle, compassionate King. Peace and joy in the midst of trials is found in surrender to Jesus, not in plodding on with a stiff upper lip.
In short, through Focus God has taught me a lot in the joys and at least as much, if not more, in the challenges. What initially felt like challenges have been turned, by God, into some of the biggest encouragements in my faith and points of growth.
I hope this encourages you whether you lead or participate in your precious Focus group. And if you’re not part of one yet, I hope this encourages you to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and to join one! I’d love to hear your experiences as well and if you want to talk or pray about anything I’ve said, then do grab me after a service one Sunday.