Why Join a Study Center Small Group?
And just like that, the 2015-16 academic year is over. If you're like us, you are still writing 2015 on all of your papers, referring to January as "just last week," and are still in shock that you, or some of your very dear friends, are about to graduate from the University.
We recently chatted with a number of our students who, in the midst of busy class schedules and club commitments, have joined us on a regular basis for the Study Center's reading groups and Bible studies. Hosted by various staff members and leaders in the Christian community, these small groups range from discussing science and creation to women and the church, all with the purpose of opening students' eyes to the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Ever since I was a kid, I have known that being a Christian means studying the Bible. However, this was much easier when all I had to do was listen to a Bible story in Sunday school. Studying it on my own proved a lot more difficult, especially at college, and especially when I started learning about how academic and literary scholars study the Bible. The Study Center offers an incredible amount of resources for those interested in analyzing scripture this way. Since my second year, I have attended a Bible study at the Study Center every semester. I know the leaders there will teach the truth of the gospel, but they will do so including the context of scripture, and without expecting me to suspend my intellectual capabilities while reading."
Emily Elder, CLAS '16
Nature, Grace, and the Church: Evangelical and Roman Catholic Distinctives
“Since starting college, I have been exposed to a wide variety of world-views and differences in beliefs, both inside and outside the Christian community. This has led me to ask more questions about my faith and further refine what I believe and why I believe it. 'Nature, Grace, and the Church' was a unique group that focused on church doctrine, creeds, confessions, and historical beliefs, and taught us how to study these church documents in light of the Scriptures. It is important to come together as a community to learn and grow together in the knowledge of Christ and his Word. The Study Center’s small groups are safe and open environments to ask questions about our faith and find answers. In this group, I learned that studying (and re-studying) and engaging with Scripture is a lifelong process that will continually grow and shape my faith and my love for Christ.”
Margaret Veldman, CLAS '18
“Having both Asher and Jay leading this Bible study was awesome because both guys put a lot of time into preparing each meeting. We talked about relevant topics men face in college which, in other Bible studies, we would potentially avoid. We looked a lot at what society says being a man is vs. what the gospel has to say about that. Society has created an identity for what men look like (big, strong, tough, etc.) but the gospel has a different message for what a real man in Christ is.”
Henry Pollard, CLAS '18
Faith, Reason, and Science
“This group was unique in that the people who attended had vastly differing world-views and yet we still had very productive conversations. I was really surprised at how willing the Christians I talked with put their faith in question. As an atheist, I don’t hold any sacred belief that cannot be revised, and I imagined that the Christians in the group would be completely opposite, but they possessed the same spirit of asking probing questions that I have in matters of religion.”
Rolph Recto, CLAS '16
McCabe House Bible Study: The Life and Writings of Peter
“The 'McCabe House Bible Study' has been a place of a lot of growth for me. There is something incredibly powerful about participating in a detailed and extensive study led by older and wiser people. It is easy for me to read the Bible and think of a list of things that I need to do, or think of ways to improve my fellowship, instead of just understanding truths about God or appreciating the text for what it tells me about Jesus and my relationship with Him. Jay’s knowledge of the Bible and understanding of different passages has helped a lot with difficult verses we’ve read or ideas that I don’t understand. He’ll often explain the original meaning in Greek of specific words or relate the passage we are reading to something in the Old Testament. The study has given me a greater appreciation for the Bible, and has helped me read passages in a new way. I have felt refreshed, renewed, encouraged, affirmed, challenged, motivated, and hopeful in my relationship with the Lord as a result of the study.
This small group primarily read texts from the gospels that reference Peter’s life. Peter is one of the most doubtful, hesitant, and flippant characters in the Bible, but he is not outside the scope of God’s love. Peter seems to alternate between loving Jesus and doubting Jesus’ goodness, power, and ability, and he also doubts himself. When I read the passages about Peter, I sometimes see my own fears in Peter’s—a fear that God won’t deliver, show up, or be faithful to me. But what is endlessly encouraging to me is that, although Peter denies knowing Jesus and doubts Jesus’ mercies, Jesus continually pursues, uses, and seeks out Peter. I think that I have come to understand the gospel in Jesus’s unceasing love for Peter—that although Peter turns away from Jesus, doubts his ability, or commits to Jesus and then backs out, Jesus is relentless in his love for Peter. That is the most encouraging and hopeful promise to me – that, like Peter, Jesus seeks me out daily, despite my fleeting emotions, doubts, or desire for control.”
Helen Philips, CLAS '18