This session is the fourth in a series designed especially for all-age homegroups, those who meet intergenerationally with members from babes in arms to great grandparents included in the mix. The activities and discussion points are designed to include all members, as they feel able. The sessions are designed to work best in sequence, but you may prefer to dip in, or use the sessions out of sequence if that better meets the needs of your group.
This session introduces the Bible; answering some basic questions about what it is and how we should read it, providing practical advice to help all ages read it for themselves, whether they are just starting out or are ready to go a bit deeper.
Where possible, begin your time together with a shared meal, or some light refreshments. This is a general time of fellowship for all members of the group to share together and conversation should try to be inclusive of the whole group. As well as a social time of discussion, you could remind the group of some of the things you discussed last time you met, and how these things may have helped shape their every day since you were last together. If you are following this series in order, the previous session was ‘Prayer: the how, what, where, when, why guide’ and at the end of the session, you may have sent families home with a copy of the Lord’s prayer or with a prayer journal to begin as a family. This could be a good time to check how useful people have found that, what they have learnt or discovered and what further help they may need at this time.
This opening activity can be done in one of two ways, depending upon your group and the materials you have available to you. You could provide a game which is unfamiliar to the group and ask them to play it, or a lego set, which you ask them to build, but in either case, do not provide any instructions. Challenge the group to play the game, or build the kit as you sit back and watch. When they have had enough time to attempt the challenge, talk about what they discovered as they did this; was it impossible, or just challenging? Did they reach the goal or fall short of what was needed? Explain that today we are going to be looking at the Bible; what it is and how we use it. Many people see the Bible as an instruction book for how to live the Christian life. Without using it, we can flail around, a bit like trying to complete the challenge without the instructions.
Before you move on, you may need to provide the instructions for the group to successfully play the game or complete the lego kit! Or perhaps you can make it available for them to use at the end.
Ensure that everyone has access to an appropriate Bible and turn together to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Explain that the Bible helps us to live the Christian life; life as followers of Jesus. Sometimes the Bible encourages us or builds us up, other times we read something which gives us clear instructions, and sometimes, we read something that corrects us, or puts us right about something.
Depending upon your group and their needs and experiences, you may like to take the opportunity to explain more about the set up of the Bible, ensuring that everyone is familiar with the Old and New Testaments, some of the key types of books in each (historical, poetic, gospel, letter etc.) and how to find something specific in the Bible using the books, chapter and verse system. Some may find it helpful to talk about how the books were gathered together to form the Bible we have today.
Provide a story basket with a selection of different picture book Bibles; try to include a wide variety, perhaps involving different materials, (cloth, board, paper) as well as different styles of illustration and the stories included.
Invite the group to discuss some of the following questions are as most appropriate, or invite the group to ask their own questions about the Bible, which you can discuss together. Keep the focus practical; and do not worry about getting through the questions, it is better to discuss one question which gives people the tools to develop their own Bible study than get through all the questions. These are intended to be discussion starters which you can use to offer practical suggestions for people to try for themselves. Encourage members of all ages to participate in the discussion, intentionally inviting the children to share their responses. If children should drift away as the discussion continues, gather them back together at the end to join together in the praise and prayer sessions.
Some groups may be ready to go deeper in their study, and better get to grips with the Bible. You could use this time to look at a selection of different Bible translations, or Bible apps, both for adults and for children. Look at a few key verses in each translation and talk about how they compare; which ones do they find it easier to connect to? Which ones challenge their thinking? How do we get a better picture of what the text is saying when we hold them together, side by side? Explain that some translations are written in such a way as to be more accurate to the original text, while others are deliberately designed to be more readable, or user-friendly, but may lose some of the technical accuracy of the text. Depending upon your group, you may like to give them the opportunity explore some of the different translations so that they can use it for themselves at home, or demonstrate how to study a passage by looking at a number of translations together.
Some groups enjoy a time of shared sung praise together, whilst for others this is not helpful. Treat this time as optional, depending upon the needs of your group. For younger children, this can be a great time for joining together with the adults in praise, perhaps using percussion instruments, scarves or ribbons as you sing.
Some song suggestions for this session include:
Gather the group together and explain that we are going to pray together, thanking God for the gift of His word, the Bible. Invite the group to take turns, perhaps going round a circle, or just calling out one-line prayers of thanks; e.g. Thank you God for all the stories of your people, thank you God for your wisdom and advice etc.
End the session by offering out a selection of daily Bible study notes, suitable for all ages, as well as sharing some of the Bible apps that are available and inviting everyone to take something away with them, perhaps to do as a family or individually in the coming days, at home.