A Great Way to Start a Leadership Team Meeting

In my post on building community in a membership class, I mentioned that one of our key practices is something called "dwelling in scripture."  But it's not something I use only in membership classes.  I use it in nearly all of my regular leadership meetings:  Session (our board of elders), Deacons, and staff.  It's so easy to do and so beneficial for the spiritual growth of our teams.

I used to plan a devotional for every meeting I led. Sometimes it was a mini sermon based on a scripture. Sometimes it was a short essay or article or poem by a Christian author. Sometimes it was a reading from a book of daily devotions. But I never felt like those devotionals made much of an impact on those of us in the meetings.

Photo by Ryk Neethling (Creative Commons)Photo by Ryk Neethling (Creative Commons)"Dwelling in scripture" changed all that. By spending a year in the same passage, month after month, the scripture comes alive and takes root in our lives in a way that a single standalone devotional never could.

I first discovered the practice of "dwelling in scripture" in the book The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk. I first implemented the practice when I became the pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in San Diego and have been amazed at the way it has shaped our leadership teams.

The Four Components of Dwelling in Scripture (but first...)

There are four components to dwelling in scripture in a meeting. But before I mention those, here's the most important thing you need to do:

Use the same scripture every time you meet for a full year.

A full year?! The same scripture? Every time? Doesn't that get old after a while?

Amazingly, no. Well, I take that back. At about month three or four, the group may feel like they've exhausted the passage. They may feel like there's nothing left to glean from it. But press on. Push through this period and you'll be surprised to find that in months five or six, the passage begins to come alive in a whole new way. What's really great is that after a year in the same scripture, the team really knows that passage. It's like a familiar friend. And it has created some common language and thinking among the team, which creates deeper--and Spirit-centered--cohesiveness.

Ok, the Four Components

So, here's what the actual process in a meeting looks like:

1. Read the passage. Don't read it too fast. Let it sink in. You might want to read it twice. Sometimes, you as the leader might read the whole thing. Other times, you might let one or several team members read the passage. You could also read it in various translations. I like to bring a different translation each month. The point is, there's a lot of flexibility here. But here's the key. As you read, invite the team to take note of what grabs their attention in the passage.

2. Take 30 seconds of silence. During this time, invite your team to look back over and reflect on the passage. Give them a chance to zero in on what really got their attention and why.

3. Share what got your attention in the passage. This should not be an exercise in exegesis. This should be a time for the team to reflect on what connected with them. Ask them to share what got their attention and why. How is God speaking to them through this passage? Of course, questions about the passage are ok if something doesn't make sense. And the group may at times want to work on properly interpreting a part of the passage. That's ok, as long as you help the team come back to why a certain portion of the passage grabbed their attention--"where did God touch me in this passage and why?"

A couple of tips:

* If it's a large group (e.g. 10 or more), start by having the group break up into pairs. Each person is to share with their partner what connected with them. Once they've done this, open it up for sharing with the whole group. Not everyone needs to share with the whole group because they've all shared their thoughts with at least one person.

*If it's a smaller group (e.g. less than 10), simply share with the whole group.

4. Pray. When the team is done sharing, you can pray as the leader of the group, or you can invite others to pray. Thank God for opening the scriptures to the team once again. Pray for any needs that came up. Pray for the rest of the meeting, which this prayer now naturally leads into.

A changed culture

This practice of dwelling in scripture has changed the culture of our church leadership. Scripture is not something additional that we incorporate into the beginning of a meeting because, well, we're supposed to. It's an integral part of the meeting. It focuses us on Christ and reminds us that he is the head of our church.

Have you ever tried the practice of dwelling in scripture? What practices do you use to help foster spiritual growth in your leadership teams?

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