Learning as a Leader
Last April, after deciding to move back to my home town and subsequently my home church, I received an e-mail from Journey Preacher Greg Taylor. He asked if I would help co-lead a new weekly Bible study on Sunday mornings for the Journey Young Adults with two others (we now have a rotation of four study leaders). As this was a month before I had even moved, I told Greg I thought that would be presumptuous of me to just stroll in after 5 years away and take on a "leadership role" of that kind. He told me to do it anyway.
A year and change later, I'm grateful for Greg's persistence.
Was I as good at leading Bible studies as I thought I was?
After starting up the class last September, I quickly learned I was not nearly as good as I used to be (or as good as I used to think I was) at leading Bible studies. The points I was trying to make didn't land nearly as smoothly as I had hoped. Sometimes, as we worked through the Bible Project material as a church, I struggled to find a point at all. Sometimes, I simply found myself thinking out loud, to no one in particular. Now, maybe that doesn't like an ideal Bible class, and you would be right.
What is an “ideal” Bible study?
An ideal Bible class would be one where the leader asked thought provoking questions, introduced relevant historical context, and opened up a discussion that led to at least one theological aha! moment, right? But I'm not writing to tell you about my experience with an ideal Bible study. Just my experience with a Bible study that has helped me grow.
Looking back on the first year of the Bible Project
As I look back at the first year of the Bible Project, I realize I haven't done much "leading" at all. But I've felt I have done a great deal of learning and discerning my way through ancient scriptures, and wrestling with my own ideas and ideals. For that I'm thankful to the young adults group here at the Journey.
On any given Sunday, you might find three or four counseling professionals in the YA classroom. If reading scripture doesn't force you to examine your own psychological make-up and preconceived notions about your life and others, a therapist certainly will. Add two or three more, and you get a sense for how Jacob felt wrestling with God all through the night. Okay, I'm being a bit dramatic, but seriously, the empathy and knowledge that they bring to the table in every discussion has legitimately led me to breakthroughs in my understanding of myself and why I think the way I do. They ask questions that I often don't want to answer, and challenge statements that I thought would go unchallenged. When I often want to think and talk in hypotheticals, they often hand me a metaphorical mirror and make me stare into it.
Learning from one another
I also really learn a lot from the parents and couples that have experienced so much more than I have, and bring a valuable perspective to our study of scripture. For example, it's much easier for me to theoretically extoll the virtues of sacrifice if there's not somebody in the room with a needy baby across the hall. In the same way, it can be easy for young adults to get pessimistic and disillusioned when life and faith don't go the way we expected or were taught, but it's hard to be too cynical when we're surrounded by dancing kids that just really love ketchup and God and Spider-man, and not necessarily in that order.
At times, I have had the opportunity to learn from seminary students with a much richer biblical understanding than myself. At other times, it's just been me and a few others at class and we talked through more personal life questions that happened to be on our mind and only somewhat connected to the text. Don't tell Greg about that last part. Personally, some of my favorite times have been when visitors have joined us from out of town and assured us they had every intention of being a bystander, only to jump in the conversation wholeheartedly.
Shameless advertisement for Young Adult Bible study!
Now, this may read like an advertisement for our class, and in a way it is. I'd love to see you on a Sunday morning in our young adults class, and I think we could all benefit from more minds and more perspectives. But this isn't something I was asked to write. I just wanted to say thank you to those who have joined us, and to encourage those who may feel your presence at one of the Journey's weekly Bible studies does not add anything significant. You do.
And I want to share one last thing. After a year of our Bible project young adults bible study, I don't have a more coherent idea of truth in scripture. In a lot of ways, it appears murkier and more complex than I had hoped going into the study. A year of studying the bible in community has left me burdened with more questions and struggling with God's law and God's plan and wondering why the heck his plan is so hard to see, his law so hard to follow, his nature so mysterious and his world in so much trouble. My picture of God's Word, as seen through my rose-colored glasses, has gotten a lot thornier. But in my experience so far, growth can be found there too, in the thorns. "
Quinn is a Tulsa native and Garnett alumni, grateful to be on the journey with The Journey.
He is a 2x spelling bee champion. He is a Graduate of Oklahoma Christian University and University of Central Oklahoma.
Quinn is currently working with seniors and families in affordable housing.