As many of you are preparing to lead a Christianity Explored, Life Explored, or Discipleship Explored series this fall, we’ll post a number of blogs in the coming weeks to help you.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy (a young evangelist), suggests what Paul might say to you as you prepare to lead on an Explored series.
Paul wrote the letter around AD 67, shackled in a Roman prison and aware that he was going to die soon. Many followers of Christ had deserted him (2 Timothy 1:15), so his urgent appeal to Timothy was to guard, protect, and pass on the truth about Jesus Christ.
As Paul does so, he warns Timothy that doing this won’t be easy. He likens it to the life of a soldier, for whom risk and suffering are a matter of course (2 Timothy 2:1-4).
Commenting on verse 4, the early Christian writer Tertullian says:
No soldier goes to war equipped with luxuries, nor does he go forth to the battle-line from his bed-chamber, but from light and narrow tents wherein every hardship and roughness and uncomfortableness is to be found.
Being a table leader (discussion leader) doesn’t mean you have to live in a tent for the duration of the series – but it will mean the soldier’s life: discipline, responsibility, and commitment.
In particular, you’ll need to be committed in three ways:
1. Committed to prayer
Paul opens his letter to Timothy by saying, “Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3).
Because you realize that the power for spiritual growth comes from God, you need to be constantly remembering your guests and fellow leaders in prayer.
2. Committed to Scripture
You must be convinced, with Paul, that God’s word is active and it is at work.
Whatever his personal circumstances, Paul knew that if the word were preached, it would do its work: “I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9).
As a result, Paul exhorts Timothy – and every Christian teacher – to devote himself to the study of God’s word: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
In getting ready to lead, it’s vital that you immerse yourself in the Bible. And as you lead discussion, keep bringing the discussion back to what the Bible says.
3. Committed to people
The way you love your guests will be one of the most lasting and persuasive things you’ll say about the Lord Jesus during the series. You are not the gospel (Jesus is), but your life should make the teaching about your Savior attractive.
Show genuine concern for people’s lives, their struggles and their questions – and don’t dismiss their questions and struggles as irrelevant. Respect them, even when they disagree with you. Be willing to open up your own life to their inspection, and be honest about your own weaknesses and failures, as well as the ways that Christ has changed you.
Such genuine love and honesty are the marks of a true disciple of Christ, and can be a compelling answer to many of the doubts that people have.
Remember the one you most want to please. As 2 Timothy 2:4 says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
Be aware that as you lead, you will often find that the good will be the enemy of the best, and the urgent will be the enemy of the important.
You may find temptations or feelings of inadequacy creeping in. Sometimes, leading will be a real struggle: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After all, our enemy, Satan, hates the work you are doing.
But keep going for the joy of pleasing your “commanding officer,” the Lord Jesus Christ. And we “endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).
Leading can be daunting, whether you’ve been doing it for years or whether this is your first time. Be aware of the help we provide through our leader’s handbook and our Leader’s Area, which is full of explanatory videos and resources to help you feel equipped.
To get access to our leader’s area, register your series or sign up as a table leader. Within a few days of registering, we will send you login details. If you have already registered and already have your login credentials, then we encourage you to explore the leader’s area:
Let us know by commenting below if there are other questions you have about leading that you’d like to see us address in a future blog post.