Weekly Bible Reflection
Understandings and Method
This series of weekly reflections, Matthew's Communities of Justice, is based on the understanding that Matthew wrote to small Christian Communities to guide them in their life together as they responded to the pressures from the society in which they lived.
The purpose of the reflections is to enable today's communities of Christians to live in a way which transforms their local society.
Consequently, use of the material will be enhanced if your community, cell or group comes to the process with particular understandings and adopts a certain method.
- the members know each other well, have shared the stories of their lives and now trust each other with confidence.
- the community meets in a safe and hospitable place.
- membership is diverse, socially, and in life experience and ways of thinking.
- God speaks in different ways through each person, so everyone has a contribution to make and everyone's offering is to be listened to carefully and respected.
- No one is, or needs to be, the expert or arbiter of authority
- No one needs to be the leader though someone should co-ordinate each session; this may change from week to week
- The members are mutually accountable to each other for the life and mission of the community.
- Each session will last an agreed length of time - probably 90-120 minutes. Over-running is to be avoided because it puts pressure on life and relationships outside the community.
- communities may find it helpful to keep a 'memory' book in which they record each week the principle aspects of the discussion, what the Spirit has revealed, and what they are going to do. These are short notes, not minutes, and after a while, become the story of the community.
We recommend that you use the following steps at the beginning of the study as a way of opening up to the Word and the Spirit.
- Read the passage slowly (one person reads out loud or you could use a dramatised version on DVD)
- In silence, recall a word or phrase that has caught your attention (1 minute)
- Share the word or phrase with the group without comment (these may be written up on a flip chart)
- Read the passage again
- In silence, think about where the passages touches your life today as an individual or as a community of faith (3 – 5 mins)
- In twos or threes share together what you have identified in 5 by saying “I think it touches my/our life…”.
- In full group share the insights from the pairs/threes (these may be written up on the flip chart)
- Now go to the study materials.
Note: in 2, 6 and 7 above be brief. Do not explain, elaborate or teach. What is said is offered to the group without discussion at this stage.
This is drawn from a method known as the African method for Bible study.
The vocation of our Christian communities is to act
Jeanne Hinton, 1998 & 2007, Small and in Place: Practical steps in Forming Small Christian Communities , New Way, Wells
Jeanne Hinton and Peter B Price, 2003, Changing Communities: Church from the grassroots , CTBI, London.