by Narelle Atkins
For our first Community Day post I thought it would be appropriate to feature the group that was the inspiration behind the 30 Minute Bible Studies concept. The group started out as a church mother’s group meeting fortnightly on a Tuesday morning. A Bible study was added on the alternate fortnight and before long the group evolved into a weekly Bible study group.
We had many challenges to overcome, including numerous babies, toddlers and preschoolers to look after as we tried to study the Bible. We worked out that, over a two hour time period, we’d have about 30 minutes in total for Bible study. And that was on a good day!
There were many stops and starts during Bible study as we met our children’s needs. We searched for suitable Bible study material but found the vast majority of studies were designed to run for much longer than 30 minutes.
Deb and I decided to write our own Bible studies, and we started with the Gospel of Mark. It took our group more than a year to work through the 45 Bible studies on Mark. During this time our group grew and we ended up splitting into two groups. One group looked after the children while the other group did Bible study, and then we’d swap. The 30 Minute Bible Studies worked really well using this time schedule. And I must confess, it was a relief when the older children eventually started school and we had fewer little ones to care for during Bible study.
We lived in the same local area and met in various group member’s homes. Canberra is known as the ‘bush capital’ and below is a photo of two water cranes.
I have fond memories of this group and I contacted the girls to see if they were interested in sharing their thoughts and memories.
One of the girls remembered how we always had time for a chat and a cup of tea. “It was a chance to talk about parenting and the Bible. I liked having the opportunity to meet with people that I didn’t normally see at church, because they went to a different service. I also liked the contrast from my regular evening Bible study group. Occasionally we studied the same sections of the Bible and it was interesting to see the varying applications to people’s lives because of their contexts.”
A couple of the girls remembered some funny incidents.
“You thinking that the rest of us were married to the same husband because they had the same name!” (Narelle: Who would have thought there would be 4 girls with husbands sharing the same name? I was new to the group and mystified by all these women talking about my friend’s husband in such a familiar way, lol).
Deb: I remember the digressions best. Like 10 minutes wondering what kind of fish the boy had in his lunchbox when Jesus fed the 5,000. Presumably they didn’t have tinned tuna back then. Or when we got ourselves tied into knots trying to work out how free will and redemption fit together when we considered being on a shelf at Cash Converters, owned by God and waiting to be redeemed. Then sorting out the confusion of one member thinking we were in a ‘porn’ shop rather than a ‘pawn’ shop. Or realising for the 100th time we had all been giggling and making faces at the new baby again and forgotten the question we were supposed to be considering. (Narelle: The pawn shop incident was very funny, lol).
And the group was a blessing to us in many ways.
“The group blessed me with straight-thinking friends at a time in my life when parenting and work was difficult for me.”
Deb: I sent a text message to all the girls with a quick health update, because I knew everyone had been praying and within minutes I had received a phone call or message from everyone wishing me well and offering assistance. We’ve talked a lot about how we express our love in actions over the years, and I often just encourage them not to lose heart and keep doing what they do so well. Offers of lifts, groceries, casseroles and babysitting are all gifts of love from the heart and I have cherished them all.
On the question of why do we think it’s important to belong to a Bible Study group?
“If you only go to church and meet your church friends socially, you’re really only part of another social club. Being part of a group that purposefully meets to study the Bible gives you opportunity to grow as a Christian.”
And one of the girls summarised her thoughts on the group below.
“I don’t really have funny memories of the group but can say that I have always enjoyed the fellowship belonging to the group has provided to me, and have felt privileged to have become quite close to members of the group over the years. It can be very helpful and reassuring to belong to a group of people facing similar life challenges to myself, as we are all raising children and living in the same district.
Members are able to laugh and, occasionally, cry together and provide one another with a sounding board and advice at times. Belonging to the group has helped me not take myself too seriously and keep the challenges of life in perspective, too.”
I hope you’ve been encouraged by hearing about our group. If you’d like your group to be featured in a Community Day post, please contact us at: community [at] 30minutebiblestudies [dot] com