Recently, my daughter came to me and asked if she could start a Bible study. At the time, she was only eleven.
I immediately had visions of tweenage girls huddled around our kitchen table busy doing crafty object lessons and munching on newly baked yummy goodness while I led them through various topical studies grounded in biblical truth.
As my daughter and I began to discuss her idea, however, my vision and hers didn’t exactly line up.
For example, she’s not a particularly crafty kid, and so she preferred not to include that element.
Okay. That makes sense.
And because she doesn’t enjoy baking, she didn’t want to take time to mix ingredients and prepare recipes; she does, however, enjoy eating newly baked goods and said she’d be delighted if I’d make fresh cookies or something for the group each week.
Alright. I can do that.
“Oh, and mom? I was thinking that I could lead the study. Not you.”
I’m not going to lie. That one hurt!
Her intent, however, wasn’t to exclude me; instead, it was her way of exercising faith, delving deeper into truth, and growing closer to girlfriends in all the ways that matter.
Just as my husband and I seek to disciple and teach Autumn in the Way she should go, she embarks on her own spiritual journey of making disciples and teaching them to observe everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
It’s how Christ’s Great Commission continues through the generations: both to us and through us. And it is a beautiful and humbling sight to see because there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
Even so, the work with our girl is not finished — and when your children undertake Christ’s calling as their own, your work won’t be finished, either. Discipling others is a work best done walking in tandem with other believers.
That said, here are six areas where we came alongside our daughter as she led (and continues to lead) her own Bible study:
1. Prayer. With Autumn, we prayed that God would reveal who was to join her study and that their schedules would permit everyone to come.
2. Research. To help her select a study, we poured over booklists, talked about possible topics, and read through sample chapters keeping in mind everyone who might attend.
3. Planning. Autumn didn’t consider that the lesson might go too long (or not long enough) for her 90 minute study window, so we discussed a plan with schedule specifics (i.e. 10 minutes for get-to-know-you-better games, 5 for stage-setting questions, 7 to read through Bible passages, etc.).
4. Content. Sometimes Autumn didn’t like a chapter’s topic or a lesson’s accompanying activity, so we’d brainstorm different approaches. One time, she decided to incorporate an experience from her youth group by designing quiet prayer stations throughout the house. She wrote and printed guided prayer questions, and each girl moved in five minute increments through each station.
5. Guidance. Autumn led, but I had the privilege of being nearby in another room in case there was ever a question. The girls pulled me into their discussion once or twice, but I slipped out soon afterward. After the study, we’d sometimes talk about how to get a reluctant friend to participate or how to keep an easily distracted friend engaged.
6. Freedom. For me, the hardest part was to let my daughter lead. We are two very different people, so there were times when I’d make suggestions that she didn’t take. But that was good… for me (to allow her the liberty to make her own decisions) and for her (to grow in confidence through trial and error).
Maybe you have a child who has approached you about leading a Bible study with his peers? Or maybe you have a child who could be gently nudged in that direction?
Whatever the age of your child, remember Jeremiah to whom the Lord said, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you” (Jeremiah 1:7).
God doesn’t think anyone too adolescent for His work; neither should we.
Enjoy the journey,