What makes a sweet, charming, happily engaged young lady turn into BRIDEZILLA? (Cue ominous organ music.) She was sweet and charming; that’s why Mr. Right fell in love with her. But as the big wedding day gets closer and closer, her personality slowly changes and enough tension fills the air that electrical transformers begin to buzz as she passes by. Out of the murky waters of wedding planning rises—cue ominous music again—BRIDEZILLA!
What feeds Bridezilla? The desire for everything in the wedding to be perfect and go off without a hitch (as she … um, gets hitched).
When it comes to my Bible study group, I’m no Bridezilla —at least I haven’t heard the ominous organ music—but I do want everything to go off without a hitch. And the studies I lead would go perfectly except for one thing: people keep showing up and disrupting my plan.
My cardinal rule for leading a group is: BE PREPARED. I want a well-planned Bible study. I have sat in groups where the leaders asked “What do you all want to talk about today” and “What do you think that passage means?” Sharing our ignorance or flying by the seat of our pants is no way to lead in transformational Bible study. We expect our pastors to be prepared when they stand up to preach—and it should be no different when we facilitate a group Bible study.
However, we face a potential pitfall if we’re too prepared.
I think back to some of my carefully crafted studies. Every moment was filled with richness … questions to really make you think … clever illustrations … activities you would remember on your deathbed. If the apostle Paul was in the group, he would say, “Wow. I hadn’t thought of that.”
Yet when the group meets, the discussion drifts slightly—not a full-blown chase-a-rabbit tangent—but just not on point with my golden plan. Another discussion runs long and we have no time for an activity. Or the wi-fi is splotchy and my cool video illustration is stuck on the shoulder of the information highway.
The best laid plans of mice and Bible study leaders. Yet in spite of all that, the most amazing thing happens: God still worked! It just wasn’t the way I thought He would work—or more accurately, the way I planned for Him to work.
So I’ve added an addendum to my cardinal rule. I first heard it from Henry Blackaby in his instructions for those who lead Experiencing God groups: Be prepared—and be prepared for the Holy Spirit to work. In other words, do your homework. Plan activities. Find a great video clip. Study the passage well. But be prepared for the Holy Spirit to lead—even if it is in a different direction that you had planned.
That’s OK. After all, He knows what’s truly on the hearts of those in my group. He knows what they need to hear, learn, or experience that week. I don’t need to be the Sunday School version of Bridezilla. I can be prepared and ready for God to work His agenda.
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at Lifeway. He and his wife, Mary, lead a Bible study group for young adults and have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Follow him on his blog at lynnhpryor.com.