Modern life is so full of responsibility and distraction that it can be hard to connect in the ways that are most important—with others and with God. I think most of us would like to connect more if we could make it happen. What would we need to change?

Formula: “Motivation, Ability, Trigger”

Research shows that a change requires three things: motivation, ability, and a trigger. We can apply this formula to pretty much any change we want to make. 

“Motivation”

How many times have you said, “We just have to get together soon?” Would you really like to have more frequent contact with friends, or is it just something you say? Do you feel lonely? Do you crave a deeper connection with people who you know in a particular context (parents with the same age kids, co-workers, family members, etc.)? If more meaningful time with people is one of your goals, it counts as the “Motivation” for a change.

“Ability”

Last week, I got some firsthand experience with a new, free, and easy tool that can jump-start connection. I’ve been hearing about Bible Clusters (BCs) for a while now. They sound pretty simple: 3+ friends get together, read a passage from the Bible, talk about it, and pray. I’ve heard that BCs work for people of different faiths or no faith. They’re pretty quick but often run deep, and they’re a “no pressure” experience. The two I sat in on were both around the verses for our contest (Ephesians 6:10-20), but you can use any verses.

The first group included people who mostly didn’t know each other. They were artists who won prizes in the 2018 Engage Art Carolinas pilot contest and range in age from 18 to near retirement. At different places in their artistic careers and in their faith journeys, they gathered in a cool art gallery co-op in Charlotte, NC.

The other group was our Engage Art team at our quarterly meeting. Our team includes people from their early 20s to octogenarians. We work together—some for months and some have for many years—but most of the time at a distance. The team has broad and varied experiences and perspectives, both professionally and around our Christian faith.

BC Process

The first thing I noticed is that BCs all have the same process. Participants have the passage in front of them, either on their phone or printed out. The Scripture is read aloud—either by one person or by several, each taking a verse or two. The facilitator asks the group, “What struck you?” and that begins the conversation. Then you go through the verses a couple at a time and discuss anything that comes up. When you’ve finished talking, one of you offers a short prayer. It might be something like, “Thank you, God, that we could spend this time together talking about Your Word. Please protect our families and us as we move back into our daily routine.” 

“Trigger”

Both of these conversations were “one-offs”—a one-time or infrequent occurrence. But a Bible Cluster could quickly become a feature of your life if you can gather a group and devise a “trigger.” Here are some questions to help you, in no particular order:

  • Who would be in this Bible Cluster?
  • When in your week could you (and at least two other people) reserve an hour? Before (or after) another weekly activity, club or meeting? Lunchtime one day a week? After work on Tuesdays?
  • Where would it make sense to meet? A coffee shop or a restaurant? Someone’s home? On the sidelines of rehearsal/practice or in a nearby building?

Logistics

Pick which question is most important for you and start there. If you are going to be at a specific place every week on Thursdays at 7 with ½ – 1 hour free, maybe that is your controlling criteria. It gives you both the where and the when. Then the question might be, who else will or could be there with you? If you want to try this with a particular group of people, then that controls the answers to the other questions. When and where can you all come together regularly?

The “trigger” will be to put the regular meeting time into your calendar, perhaps with a phone alarm to remind you ahead of time. If you integrate it into your larger schedule, the trigger will be even stronger. For example, “Every Tuesday at 7:30, I drop Angela off at dance class, go across the street to the coffee shop, and join Dante and Chris for a Bible Cluster.”

Want to Give It a Try?

There’s a great website that lays out what a Bible Cluster is and how to lead one: https://bibleclusters.org/

They define the cluster as “a simple way to encounter God through the Bible” and reassure that “anyone can do it.” For those of us eager to have more meaningful connections in our lives, it’s a new tool with a lot of promise.