In Layman's Terms: A free Bible study to help us all #BeKind
It sure can seem at times like the world has forgotten what it’s like to be kind. We criticize each other. We share things on social media that we would never have the guts to say to a person’s face – at least that’s true of many people.
For Christians, I think the act of being kind is an essential part of how we practice our faith. It is, after all, the major implication of the scripture from Mark 12:27-40. In that passage, Jesus is confronted by a teacher and asked which of the 613 laws in what we now call the Old Testament is the most important. Jesus answers that we first are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The passage goes on to say, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
I think the implication is that we are supposed to be kind to others – an act that is different than being nice. I think “nice” can be passive, such as not pointing out another’s flaws. But kindness means action. Kindness requires us to do something for another person. Kindness means showing love.
The folks at The Water’s Edge, one of our fastest-growing congregations in the Great Plains Conference, are concerned about the lack of kindness these days and decided they would do something about it. The Omaha congregation, led by the Rev. Craig Finnestad, developed a four-session small-group study titled “#BeKind.” The goal is to teach this large congregation the key aspects of showing kindness to others. The small-group participants (Water’s Edge calls them “life groups”) then put those principles to use and serve as witnesses for Christ in their community and in their social circles – from the workplace to soccer field to the grocery store and all points in between.
In social media terms (notice the hashtag in the title), The Water’s Edge is hoping to make the concept of #BeKind go viral in their community.
And they want to help you do it in your community, too.
The Water’s Edge asked our communications team to come alongside and provide some video assistance for a Bible study that could be shared throughout the conference. While our team certainly can’t provide that level of service on a regular basis, this seemed like a project that would have far-reaching implications for local churches large and small by providing a free resource for Bible study. Thanks to social media and our conference website, the concept can reach far beyond the Omaha neighborhood that houses The Water’s Edge. It can reach far beyond your church’s address, too.
Craig and his team have developed an engaging four-session study that starts off with a teaching video. In each video, Craig illustrates aspects of kindness through things he’s witnessed in his daily life and shares principles via scripture from Jesus and Bible stories in the Old and New Testaments. After the video each session, a 10-question sheet allows the facilitator to get as many people involved in discussion as possible. It is through that discussion that small-group participants have the opportunity to learn from each other and to focus the scriptures from long ago into useful pieces of wisdom for life in the 21st
The Water’s Edge folks help you take it a step further with some great resources meant to spur some ideas. Beyond the weekly questions sheet for discussion, you can download:
- Thirty days of Bible readings on the topic of kindness.
- Thirty ideas for how you can #BeKind.
- Thirty practical ideas for kids to #BeKind.
- Ideas for parents to coach their children on how to #BeKind.
And it’s all free.
Just go to the conference’s Bible studies page at www.greatplainsumc.org/biblestudies
. The #BeKind study can be found at the top of the page. You can either click on the video links and play them using your Internet connection or – this is my recommendation – click on the “(Download for use later)” part of the link to go to the video on our conference’s video page. Once there, you’ll find a <Download> button under the video. You select the resolution that best matches your equipment, and then you don’t have to worry if you have a strong Internet connection to facilitate the class.
If you decide to use these free resources in your small-group study, be sure to take a quick cell phone photo and post it using the hashtag #BeKind.
Let’s make the world a little kinder place by serving as witnesses for Jesus wherever we live, work or play. I think this study will help give you a good foundation and will spur some ideas on how you can expand the concepts and do what we aim to do as United Methodists by making disciples of Jesus Christ: We can help transform the world!
Todd Seifert is communications director for the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. He can be reached via phone at 785-414-4224, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Great Plains Annual Conference or the United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter, @ToddSeifert.