Getting Started with Scripture Engagement:
Questions for Thoughtful Prayer and Prayerful Planning
Are you wondering where to start with Scripture engagement in your ministry or community? A common tendency is to think in terms of needs and possible solutions with which we are familiar, and then to presume that we should just implement those solutions. However, it is usually better to take time to slow down and to get a fresh perspective. The following is offered as a way to help you do that.
Our desire is to align ourselves with God’s purposes and with what he is doing in the world. To that end, we study the Scriptures and pray for insight and wisdom as we consider needs, opportunities and resources. We also take initiative to prompt conversation with others who we think might also want to see life-transforming encounters with God take place in our community.
The following questions can help us in this process of thoughtful prayer and prayerful conversation and planning. Although the order of the questions is intentional, sometimes it may be helpful to skip some of the questions and come back to them later.
Take whatever time you need for this process. Use these questions for prayer, and mull them during periods of rest. You might want to take a day, or a week or more, to pray and think about even just one of these questions. The important thing is to be sensitive to the leading of Holy Spirit as you pray, study Scripture, think and converse with others about these topics.
- In what ways have you seen God at work in your community? Are some of those ways surprising or very expected? Have you seen him at work in people who you might not have expected him to be changing?
- What difficulties and longings do people commonly have in your community? How do the Scriptures speak to those difficulties and longings?
- In what ways do people in the community seem to be missing God’s calling and blessing? In what ways would that also be true in the local churches? How well do the local churches connect in a clearly biblical way with people’s struggles and dreams?
- As you have been thinking about and praying, what Scripture passages have been speaking to you about needs in your community and God’s desires for your people?
- How has God been ministering to you through the Scriptures recently? In other words, in what ways has he been addressing specific difficulties in your life, or shaping your beliefs, values, attitudes, hopes, habits and relationships? This question is meant to help us take a very honest look at our own situation. We cannot help others engage with God through Scripture if we ourselves are not experiencing this.
- A vision statement is a brief description of how you believe things should be in the future. What do you believe is the big vision for what God wants to do in your community? Think in terms of various specifics; then decide what all the specifics have in common, and then make a one sentence vision statement of what your community would be like if this were to be accomplished.
- Who or what seems to be impeding people in your community from connecting deeply with God through the Scriptures?
- What would people in the community think would be a true break-through for them in connecting deeply with God and experiencing what he wants for them? Often the answer to this question has to do with something that deeply troubles them and makes them feel defeated or hopeless. This might stem from hurts, poverty (of which there are many kinds), addictions, practices or relationships which they feel are unhealthy or cause trouble.
- What kinds of experiences, products or services could be helpful for a break-through toward the vision? What has been tried? What can be learned from that? What is doable within the community without any outside assistance? What might be accomplished with outside assistance?
- What resources are currently available to help the community move toward what God wants for them? What else is needed to help them move forward?
- Who could be involved in facilitating experiences, products or services that could help the community move toward what God wants for them? What are these facilitators’ qualifications? When and how could these facilitators be most helpful?
- What will you and other local partners commit to doing? How well do the proposed local participants share a common vision and level of commitment? Who will provide which resources? What sacrifices will each of the local partners have to make? Now ask yourself these same questions in regard to non-local partners if you think these are needed. Also, how will the local and non-local partners communicate with one another? What challenges do you see in teamwork among the proposed partners?
- What role does the use of the Bible have to do with our vision and plans? What elements of our vision and plans will help the community to engage with Scripture in ways that are deeply meaningful to them? This is extremely important because the Bible is the eternal word of God. It contains his message for all people everywhere, so it should be central to everything we believe, think and do. If deeply engaging with God through Scripture is truly central in our vision and plans, then there will be great blessing. However, if Scripture is not at the center, or if our plans do not help people to engage with it in a way that is deeply meaningful for them, then we should reconsider what is missing in our vision and plans.
- Who will be actively involved in prayer for this initiative all along the way? How will they know what to pray about? How will times of prayer for this be unique and encouraged?
- What are the potential risks and consequences? How can they be mitigated?
- How will the partners be accountable to one another in ways that encourage them in their service and sacrifices? How will we measure progress toward toward the vision in ways that will make sense to others as well as to ourselves? Progress can be measured in both quantitative and qualitative ways. How can we do both?
- Who needs to know what is happening? What are their expectations for reports?
After you have prayed, thought through and discussed answers to these questions, you should have a clear sense of what would be good to invest in and to work toward in order to reach God’s vision for your community.
At this point, plans are ideas. The next step is to ensure partnerships in which all stakeholders are in agreement about a shared sense of call to work together in faith toward the vision, and each one should have a good understanding of their own role as well as the roles of all others who are involved.
If our team can be of help to you in this process, please contact us.