As I stumbled to the kitchen to get my morning dose of Mountain Dew (don’t judge me), I heard Luanne say, “This stuff is hard.” She was sitting on the couch, Bible and DNA* booklet laid open, working through the book of Mark. My answer was, “Yep, and isn’t it wonderful?” I want to be as equally honest with you. DNA groups are going to be tough. Finding a time to meet – tough; learning to build trust with the people in your group – tough; speaking the truth in love to one another – tough; digging deep into Scripture – tough… get the picture?
I did a little farming growing up. It was work. Hard work! Jesus uses the picture of farming in several parables to help guide us to Spiritual truths. One example is the parable of the sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8). Jesus says that the seed (which is the word and work of God) needs fertile ground (our hearts) to grow deep roots, to grow upward, and to bear any kind of fruit. Creating fertile ground is the key to farming, and it is labor intensive; so is cultivating a fertile heart.
I want to offer a couple of suggestions that may help you to get the most out of your work in your DNA groups.
First, don’t feel pressured to get all the answers down. If you are using the Knowing the Bible material, the questions will seem difficult at first, but you don’t have to have all the answers. That is the benefit of getting together with others to discuss your answers. It is okay to come and say, “I didn’t get this one. What did you all put down?” This is the beauty of learning in community. The goal is not to get all the answers (Did you hear that, type A people?). The goal is to get to know the Bible and to wrestle with the questions and the selected text of Scripture.
Second, usually the answer is found in the text. Often we want to jump right in and say how this text makes us feel or what the text means for us. The implications and application are the latter part of each week’s studies. In the beginning, just wrestle with the text. What specific message is the Holy Spirit speaking through this author to its intended audience? The questions asked by the material are helping you to get there.
Third, invest some money in a good study bible or better yet, Christmas is around the corner, and maybe you can ask Santa for one. We suggest either the ESV Study Bible or John MacArthur’s ESV Study Bible.
Lastly, DNA is not just a Bible Study…but it is. We want to nurture and hold each other accountable, but the means by which we are doing this is through the Word of God. The Spirit will expose sin in our lives through Scripture and the means by which we uproot and kill that sin is through the power of the Spirit as the Word is applied to our lives. The Word speaks to our sin struggles and tells us that Jesus and His ways are better than our anxiety, lust, bitterness, etc. Let the Word do that as you study together. Empathy is great and advice is wonderful, but what is needed most in our lives is the careful execution of the word of God in our lives. The Word can cut us open as well as sew us shut. That is how it works! Let it work as you study it together.
*DNA (disciple, nurture, and accountability) Groups are small, gender-specific groups that meet throughout the week. To get involved in a DNA Group, see your Community Group Leader or an Elder, and they will connect you with the leader for the campus you attend.