Alongside the study material in these pages, this course is also an opportunity for your study group to support each other in fellowship. To this end, we invite you to use this course as an exercise in improving your skills in listening and empathy.
Commit to attend all five sessions. The more you are able to attend, holding the continuity of the group, the more you will benefit. Give yourself permission to refuse any other engagements or invitations that might arise at your regular study time.
Commit to sharing honestly and to listening without judgement or trying to ‘fix’ someone else’s life for them. Seek to create a safe atmosphere in which people feel able to share openly. Be reminded that none of us are perfect; our aim is to be real, authentic and whole –not perfect!
Acknowledge that everyone’s experience of life and faith is unique and valuable. Seek to accept one another just as we truly are, just as God accepts each one of us.
Give space for everyone to speak, though no-one need feel obliged to speak. If you are someone who tends to share a lot, remember to leave space for others who find it harder to share.
Read through the material in advance and spend some time simply allowing the material to sink in – not necessarily needing to find answers. It’s ok not to know!
Try not to make easy assumptions. Keep in mind that different religious words and ideas can mean different things to different people. Share your own perspectives but allow others to hold different perspectives.
Be open to what God is saying to us through the Bible. Remember the Bible is a collection of literature of different genres – history, poetry, wisdom, letters, etc. It can be read in many ways and contains truth at many levels. We can listen to its poetry. We can consider the contextual and cultural meaning of a passage. We can simply reflect on how the passage impacts on us emotionally. There is no one way.
Each study includes a ‘contemplative exercise’ which will require someone in the group to lead – speaking slowly and clearly, and leaving silent gaps between phrases to give the words time to sink in.