Have you ever had the experience of hearing an inspiring sermon, feeling so impacted by the speaker, and then the next day finding it difficult to remember any of it? You were so sure that it would be life changing, but now it is hard to come to a resolve and move forward with plans to change your life. This is a common human experience. The writer of James will even explain the issue:
“For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.” (1:23-25)
When we hear the Word, we get a glimpse of what we look like and what we need to change. But then we walk away and … forget. The follow up matters so much.
For SLAM participants this past week, they had the opportunity to solidify some of the lessons they were learning from the Word through small group break-out sessions. Small group discussions are facilitated times to help students talk through the Word they are learning, receive clarification, and make connections to their current life situation. The Word of God is transformative only when the hearer works to actualize it in their lives.
Grant Dailey did such a wonderful job of teaching and exhorting the students in passages related to “Da Mission” of God (such as John 5 and Genesis 1). Some important lessons he taught them included the fact that they matter to God, they are his workmanship, and that if they wanted to get on board with “Da Mission” of God, they would have to become concerned with the lives of others, particularly “the least.”
After each Bible study, students broke out into groups to discuss the passages in a personal way. I had the opportunity to lead a small group for upper-level high school girls. After sharing with the girls that “Da Mission” of God begins when we choose to obey him, they were challenged with discussion questions like “What does it mean to be obedient and why does it matter? Why is it hard/difficult for you to obey God? What does the Lord want to teach you in order to provide for and protect you?” The ladies began sharing about things like the social pressure to conform, or how culture can often times be confused for the voice of God, or that sometimes they straight up don’t want to be obedient because it doesn’t seem fun.
In the end, some came to a resolve that they needed to learn more Bible and develop their prayer life. The girls also came together to discuss their roles as older students in their youth group and talked through their responsibility to set a good example for the younger students, specifically what it looks like to be obedient to God. The added benefit of small group discussions comes in the form of accountability. Now that they’ve had the chance to share their heart and their plans of action, their friends can hold them accountable to those commitments to change. This is a powerful gift.
The next time you feel inspired or challenged by the Word, take some time to share it with a friend or a family member. That discussion can lead to some real change because once you talk about it, you remember it more, and you also have the benefit of having someone else remind you when you forget what you look like in the mirror of God’s word.