In this post, I commented on a Bible study of Mark that had a powerful effect on my Christian growth. It was with a mixed group of Christians and non-believers who were interested in reading the Bible to learn more about Jesus and who He claimed to be. It was a lot like a spiritual birthing center as you will see later.
Today, I plan to move on a bit from that point to discuss something I hadn’t seen before that time…but have observed it often since. In this group, it felt a bit like being in a spiritual birthing center. Each week, there was a bit of suspense as we waited to see what would happen that week in the study. Would we see a change of heart? A move in the direction of trusting GOD for salvation? Spiritual eyes were opening as women were seeing who Jesus was and what he had accomplished for them. It was more of a relationship we were developing rather than a one time hit or miss opportunity to present the gospel.
We met regularly to study GOD’s Word…but not in a rigid way. Over snacks, with flexibility.
We studied the book of Mark by having discussion questions as we looked at the text to see what Jesus was claiming about Himself and how He was able to back up those claims. We also learned about Biblical culture during the time of Christ a bit so we could understand what the impact of His words was on his hearers and why some hated Him so intensely
Each week, a couple of women whose eyes were being opened to what Jesus was teaching about Himself, thought and interacted with Scripture over what they were learning. So did the rest of the group! They got that He was telling them He was GOD…so did the Pharisees, so did many others. That is why the Pharisees hated Him and wanted to kill Him!
Judy, my gardening friend, was a recent Christian who had a wisdom and teacher’s mind that went beyond her years as a believer. She was much more aware of what was going on than I was sometimes! She had been through the process not that long before. She recognized it.
She knew that unless GOD opened the eyes of those who were seeking Him, they would never understand the truth of the Gospel. I felt like I was still putting together the pieces of the puzzle of all the information I knew but none of it had connected before! Now it was all started to click and make sense…even though I was a christian.
Rabbit trails and tangent time
We had a rule that we had to stick to the questions and couldn’t go on rabbit trails. So when the study was done, we had what we called Tangent Time when questions that came up could get discussed. That way, those who had to leave could go, the others could stay and discuss.
During Tangent Time, references to Romans came up often. Romans 1, 3 and 8 particularly came up often. Each week I would see a few more centimeters dilated, so to speak. Delivery was imminent.
I still remember the day when Jennifer was born spiritually…or rather when we found out it had happened. I think it happened the night before. The change was almost imperceptible. Her new birth happened gradually over time. She acted on what she believed as she went along. At some point, she knew she needed to commit her life to Christ and repent of her sin. She might word it differently at this point, but the time came when she stepped over the line and became a child of Christ. It was different than anything I had seen before. So delightful! She had become a new creature in Christ…but the process had been taking place over months.
Watching GOD work in our Spiritual Birthing Center was beautiful!
It was beautiful to watch. It was nothing like the memories of dumping a whole bunch irrelevant facts to them on someone and pressuring them to make a decision that makes me feel good and might be meaningful to the other person. This was more like watching GOD at work while He made His Word understandable and used us in the group to love them into the Kingdom. Ideally, this happens in the context of a church, but not always.
Yes, I’m exaggerating a little, but not much. Instead of talking a lot, I learned to listen more and find ways to relate to her. I realized I didn’t know much about relating. GOD used Judy and Robert mostly as they were true friends to that family. They still are! That friendship took place outside the group and played a huge role in what actually happened.
As we listened, we found out more about where the other person was in her questions. Where was her pain, her empty place? Where did she sense a need? That is where Christ came to minister to her. Ultimately, her basic need was Jesus. When she read about Him, she was aware right away! Not everyone is.
What does a Spiritual Birthing Center look like?
- In this group, we found we needed some who invited (one person invited the majority of people). some who provide hospitality, someone in the group needs to be more of a teacher who can explain even if she isn’t teaching. All need to be praying for the group. (We had a team of leaders who met to pray for the group. I don’t even think they were known to the group as “the leaders” per se.)
- We were very open and loving to the ladies. Didn’t stomp on what they said, no matter how outlandish. One ground rule was that the Bible was going to be our authority. They could talk about any idea out there, but we went back to the Bible in the end. Even non-believers were okay with that.
- We learned to trust each other for what we had to say. I often would punt to Judy to explain something I knew I couldn’t explain as well. Each of us learned the strengths of the other and would punt to her strengths.
- If we didn’t know an answer, we said so and looked it up that week.
Challenge: Is GOD calling you to be a friend to someone as part of reaching them for Christ? Or to open your home for a group to meet? Or to be open with your faith and trust in Christ?
Realize that living out your faith in real life is more telling than preaching at someone.