by Collin Mayjack
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the practice in triads (5-10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, consider dividing into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
How did the practice for the last few weeks go for you? Did the Holy Spirit bring to mind lies that you were unaware that you were believing?
What does it look like for you to live in accordance with the truth in those areas?
Transition back to one large group (10-15 minutes)
Have a conversation around the following questions:
What has your experience been with the Bible? Is reading the Bible a regular part of your life?
What are your greatest hurdles when it comes to reading the Bible?
The ideas that we take into our minds shape us, whether from a podcast,blog, news feed, the books we’re reading, the shows we’re watching, etc. What are some of the main sources you are getting ideas from in this season of your life?
Read this Overview
A.W. Tozer once wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” This is why, in the book of Genesis, when the snake came to Adam and Eve, he did not come to them with a weapon or an army, he came to them with an idea. The ideas that we believe about God, ourselves, and the good life shape who we become and how we live.
In the world of TED Talks, podcasts, billboards, and blog posts, we are presented with hundreds of ideas each and every day. Some of these ideas are harmless: buy this toothbrush, wear a seatbelt, and so on. Others attempt to provide their answer to the haunting questions of life: Who is God? Who am I? and What is the good life?
The scary part about this is that every idea we digest does something to us. The great triad of formation consists of your habits, your community, and the stories you believe (read: your ideas). This means that over time every idea you take in has an effect on who you are becoming.
If we want to follow Jesus in our time and place, we will have to find a way to guard and guide our thought life, or, in the words of Paul,“to take every thought captive.” The challenge for disciples of Jesus is to adopt a practice for counter-formation, a way to work against the onslaught of ideas (lies) in our society; to own our ideas instead of letting them own us.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he fought back with Scripture, with true ideas to counteract the false ones. For thousands of years, the counter-practice for disciples of Jesus has been the same: reading and immersing ourselves in the Scriptures. By reading and re-reading this library of writings, disciples are taught to think like Jesus and are able to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Do this Practice as a Community right now: (30-45 minutes)
Exercise 1: Public Reading of Scripture
Throughout the story of the Scriptures, the people of God have immersed their minds in the story of God by reading the Scriptures publicly. Take a couple minutes with your Community to watch this video from our friends at The Bible Project:
Per Paul’s encouragement to devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture, spend some time reading the entire letter of Ephesians out loud with your Community. To get started, try the following:
Encourage everyone in your Community to find a comfy seat with a non-digital Bible in their hands, ideally of the same translation (were recommend the NIV).
Decide how much text each person is going to read. Depending on your Community’s size, this can vary. Consider going around the circle as you read, having each person read 5-10 verses or read from one passage heading to another.
Try not to read too quickly. Encourage your Community to read slowly and to listen closely. People can choose to follow along in their Bible or, if they prefer, to close their eyes as others read portions of the letter out loud.
Once everyone is ready and knows the plan, go ahead and start, reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in its entirety.
Pay special attention to words or phrases or ideas that stick out to you. Notice them, turn them over in your mind, and let God internalize truth into you.
When you finish, take a few minutes to share what you noticed.
Read over this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night: (5 minutes)
Exercise 1: Re-Read the Letter of Ephesians
The Practice for this week is simple: re-read the letter of Ephesians on your own. Because the book of Ephesians is six chapters long, we recommend picking six days and reading a chapter a day. If your Community meets on Tuesdays, this could look like:
Tuesday: Read Ephesians aloud as Community
Wednesday: Read Ephesians 1
Thursday: Read Ephesians 2
Friday: Read Ephesians 3
Saturday: Read Ephesians 4
Sunday: Read Ephesians 5
Monday: Read Ephesians 6
If you are already pretty comfortable with reading the Scriptures, or already have a Practice of reading the Scriptures each day, consider adding variety to your reading by reading slowly, reading the text out loud, reading the text twice a day, or ending the week by re-reading Ephesians in a single sitting.
Work through these discussion questions (5-10 minutes)
How was it reading Scripture out loud for you?
Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice? Is there anything new you want to try?
What could you do practically to take time to read the Scriptures this week?