HBS Lessons That Stick
By Joan Esherick
Does this scenario sound familiar? A HBS teacher finishes the lesson with, “How can we apply this?” Group members take a moment to reflect, then cautiously respond:
“Well, maybe I could be more patient with my kids,” or “I need to stop spending so much money.” The group members then pray for grace to apply what they’ve learned and leave full of hopeful resolve to change. Next week the group returns, but resolve has given way to discouragement over failure to apply last week’s lesson.
Our failure to successfully live what we’ve learned is often the result of misunderstanding how to apply truth. To help your members avoid this sense of failure, make sure your lesson applications are
– Specific. Take prayer, for example. “I need to pray more” may sound like good application, but it’s too vague. A better plan would be, “I will set aside 10 minutes a day, five days a week, for focused prayer.”
– Realistic. Let’s say my small-group study challenges me to spend more time in God’s Word. A resolution to get up every morning at four and spend two hours studying the Bible is unrealistic and sets me up for failure. A more realistic application might be, “I will read one chapter of Proverbs a day for the next 31 days.”
– Measurable. Effective application will answer the question, How will I know I’ve successfully applied this truth? “I need to affirm my kids more” is vague. But “at least once a day, I will thank each child for one good thing he or she does” can be measured. By the end of the day, either I thanked them or I didn’t.
– Short term and long term. When my husband and I became convinced we needed to be better stewards of our finances, we set short-term goals such as “keep a daily record of cash spent” and long-term goals such as “attend a financial management seminar this year.” The short and long term together provided an avenue for continued application over time.
– Flexible. Several years ago, I was convicted of the need to study Scripture more regularly. I applied this by studying while my kids were at school. But when I needed to home school my son after an illness, I had to adjust the application.
– Periodically reviewed. Regular review (every three or six months) helps us examine how we’re doing and adjust course as necessary.
Excerpted From Discipleship Journals Best Small-Group Ideas Vol. 2
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”