One of my favorite things to do with a team of leaders is “dwelling in Scripture.” This is a simple lectio divina exercise that works great with groups.
How “Dwelling in Scripture” works
What I love about the practice of dwelling in scripture is that it requires absolutely zero preparation. So often, we who lead meetings feel the pressure to come up with devotional of some kind. But that takes precious time we often don’t have. And the rest of the team will likely forget everything we say.
Dwelling in scripture gives the work of reflection to the team. Here’s how it works.
- Take 10-20 seconds of silence to allow the group to prepare to hear God’s Word.
- Have on person read the selected passage.
- Take another 10-20 seconds of silence. Invite them to take note of what gets their attention, what raises a question, what challenges them, or what resonates with them.
- Have a second person read the passage. I like to have someone with a different kind of voice read if possible—a different gender, a different race or ethnicity, from a different part of town, a different accent, etc.
- Give them another 10-20 seconds of silence to reflect on what got their attention.
- Now invite team members to share their reflections.
- If you have a small team, you can each share with the entire team.
- If you have a larger team, they can break into groups of two or three to share with each other. You may invite someone from each group to share a thought with the larger group.
- After all have shared, close with prayer.
What I’ve just described is how I do it. But, of course, you can feel free to customize the exercise to fit your team and your culture.
Oh, I also like to use the same scripture in several (6-12) consecutive meetings. That allows the team to become more familiar with the text and dig a little deeper in their reflections over time. Feel free to use different translations of the same text from meeting to meeting.
Is This an Exegetical Exercise?
The answer to this question is: mostly no.
The goal is not to try to figure out what the text means. Some of that will inevitably happen, and that’s ok. But I would encourage you to not linger on exegesis.
The purpose of dwelling in Scripture is to hear what God wants to say to each person and to the team. How is this passage speaking to me today? How is it speaking to you today? What might God be saying to the team today?
Let God speak to each person as God wishes to speak—even if what God says doesn’t happen to be exegetically precise. This isn’t, after all, a sermon. It’s a time for listening to God and listening to each other.
What Scriptures should I use?
Here’s what’s so great about dwelling in Scripture. You can use any passage of scripture you want. Here are a few I like to use:
- Romans 12:1-21
- 1 John 4:7-21
- Acts 15:1-21
- Matthew 13:1-23
- Jeremiah 29:1-14
- Genesis 12:1-9
- Philippians 2:1-11
The Gift of Dwelling in Scripture
Part of what I love about dwelling in Scripture with my teams is that sometimes a single theme gets repeated in the team members reflections. In our church staff meeting this week, the theme of offering ourselves came up again and again.
We were looking at Romans 12:1-21 in the Message translation. In v. 1, it says, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
“Place it before God as an offering.”
One staff member shared about the challenge of being evicted and having find a new place to live—and placing that circumstance before God as an offering.
Another person shared about a health challenge they were facing—and placing that before God as an offering.
Someone else reflected on a painful work experience in the past, an experience in which they had to place what was happening before God as an offering.
The reflections don’t always hit a single theme in this way. And that’s ok.
Sometimes they do. And when they do it almost feels like we’re standing on holy ground.
Give it a Try
I want to encourage you to try using this contemplative exercise in your team meetings.
In which meeting might you try this next week? Or next month?
Will there be pushback? Maybe. If so, just say it’s an experiment that you want to try for the next few months.
Odds are, your team will appreciate dwelling in Scripture far more than listening you give a boring 5-minute devotional!