By Charissa Toeller, with Kaylee E. This summer, we spent ten weeks studying the Gospel of Mark in a student Bible Study. Fourteen students attended Bible Study at least once, and most of them attended regularly! Pastor Matt led the guys' group, and I led the girls. One of us easily could have shared our highlights from Bible Study, but we thought it would be even more interesting for you to hear directly from one of the students! Kaylee will be a Freshman in High School this fall. She began attending Midweek three years ago after being invited by her friend Norah. Later, her whole family began attending Friedens, and she's been an active participant in Sunday School ever since! She also joined the Motion Student Leadership Team and has been working with Matt to develop leadership and serving skills and is intentional about connecting with newcomers. Kaylee and I met last week to talk about her about her experience at Bible Study. With her permission, I invite you to "listen in" on our conversation. Charissa: Kaylee, what made you want to come to Bible study? Kaylee: I've done a lot of Bible studies on my own, but it helps to go to a class because otherwise I'll just put it off and it won't end up getting done, whereas if it's a class, I actually go to it and get it done. Also, it's more fun in a group setting, and it helps you understand stuff better. Charissa: What do you like about studying the Bible? Kaylee: There's a lot of stuff. I really like taking notes, and I also like finding connections [between the Old Testament and the New Testament]. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament so much because they want you to see that God's plan hasn't changed. Like ever since the Old Testament, they've been hinting at Jesus coming to pay for our sins, but it didn't come to light until the New Testament when it actually happened, but that's why the New Testament references it so much, so that you can connect the dots, that [salvation through Jesus] has always been God's plan. Charissa: Has the way you study the Bible changed since going to Bible Study this summer? Kaylee: Yes. Normally, when I used to study the Bible I would do a lot of devotionals on apps, but it would be specific questions and answers that you would find in the Bible. At Bible Study it's different. We do [three questions]: "What do I learn about God? What do I learn about people? And what does God want me to do?" I really like doing that because it covers three really big things that are important when you're reading the Bible. (Kaylee continued talking about how she began studying the book of Acts right after we finished studying Mark together.) In Acts, [I ask myself] "How is the Gospel spread? And how is the Holy Spirit working?" But I also take notes on other stuff because sometimes I get too focused on just answering questions and not writing down other connections or thoughts I have. Charissa: That is really cool! So you made your own questions that you want to track through the book of Acts. I love that! So what did you learn about Jesus through studying the book of Mark? Kaylee: One of the big things that stood out to me because it was repeated so many times was all the miracles he was able to do and how each one had a message and was included for a certain reason. So just realizing that everything Jesus did was for a purpose and it wasn't just to save that person if they were hurt or sick, it was to teach everyone else around them a lesson. Like when he healed someone's sight, and that showed how people were spiritually blind so he needed to heal their sight to show them--to connect that. And another thing I learned, this isn't specifically about Jesus, but how he and the apostles worked together because they didn't always understand what he was saying, but he never really got frustrated with them. He just kept trying to teach them because he knew that they would understand it one day even if they didn't understand it in the moment. Charissa: What did you learn about yourself and your relationship with God through studying the book of Mark? Kaylee: Probably one of the biggest thing is not just…you say this a lot, not just filling up on head knowledge, but changing your heart. Because in the book of Mark you see a lot of the Pharisees and even the disciples, they filled up on a lot of head knowledge, and they would follow rules very strictly and like traditions, and Jesus came to tell them that since he was there that everything would be made new, so that stuff wasn't as important anymore. And he was more interested in changing their heart and not just filling them with knowledge, which I think I can really apply in my life because sometimes I get too focused on just wanting to know everything in the Bible--and know when someone did this, and this person's name, and more memorization--and not really taking to heart how I should apply it to my life. Charissa: That's really, really good. I'm glad to hear you say that! The knowledge stuff is really exciting, too, as we get to know who God is, and that's a really good thing, right? But making sure it also does the work of transforming us is really important. So just a general question for people that might want to do this someday. Was it a lot of work to participate in this Bible study? Kaylee: No. [laughs] No. I mean, the first few weeks it was a little busier because we did more chapters, but Mark is really short, and most of the chapters you had to read on your own were not that long, and when we went into Bible study itself, we always went over everything if people hadn't read it. So even if you were behind, you got to catch up on everything, or you could get notes from [Charissa]. And I didn't feel like it was that hard to do. There were definitely times, like when I would miss a week, I definitely dug deeper into it because I knew I wouldn't have study that week. I kind of like doing it on my own sometimes, especially when I get to go the next week and talk about it because it encourages me to dig deeper on my own so we can have better discussion during Bible Study. The deeper that you dig into the text, the more questions that you have. And the more questions you can get answered, the better you can understand it. Charissa: You invited more people as the summer went on. What did you say when you invited them? Kaylee: Most of the time it would happen because they would want to like go to the fair or do something, and I would say, "Oh we could do that, but I have Bible study today, you guys should definitely should come with me." And the further on the summer got, the more interesting Mark got, so then I was like "We're in a really good part of Mark so you guys should definitely come even if you haven't read all the chapters beforehand. You can definitely catch up right now and just read this chapter." I hope hearing from Kaylee is as encouraging for you as it is for me! One of our goals when we study the Bible with students is to help them become more confident reading and understanding the Bible so that can study it on their own and in groups, which we are seeing in all of our Bible Study students. And like Kaylee said, it's not just about them learning head-knowledge--we look forward to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the students (and their leaders!) as we study scripture together.
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