by COL Rich Goldsmith, USA
It is really pretty easy to start an OCF group. You have already overcome the greatest hurdle we commonly encounter-finding someone who will take the initiative. We often say that all it takes to start an OCF group is one person who will say, “Hey! My house, Tuesday, 7 o’clock. Bring your Bible!” Many a successful OCF group has started with just those simple words.
Here are a few things, besides your valuable initiative, to consider:
Before the First Meeting
1. Find a wingman. It may be your spouse or another couple if you are thinking of a home Bible study. Find a like-minded Christian co-worker for a workplace study.
2. Pray about starting a group, about who to invite, what to study, where to meet, time/place, etc. Let the Holy Spirit speak before launching on your own strength.
3. Invite initial participants. Face-to-face invitations work best. Using flyers, bulletin board announcements, or e-mail works better after you have an established group going.
4. Be prepared. Take a look at the many resources available on this OCF website to help you–so take your time and look around! If this is your first time at starting/leading a group, take a close look at Effective OCF Fellowships and Step by Step Guide. We also have a wide selection of free, downloadable Bible studies online for your use.
After the First Meeting
After the first meeting you’ll have a better idea of what the group prefers/needs. Is childcare an issue? Find a creative way to mind the kids while the adults study the Bible. Is proximity to dinner a problem? Think about having a potluck prior to starting the Bible study. In the workplace, maybe a “brown bag” study during the lunch hour will help.
Most often, studying a book of the Bible works best. You can quickly learn (as a group) how to conduct an inductive study of one of the books of the Bible. Start with an easy one that is not too theologically challenging or too long-like one of the Gospels.
Sometimes there is a topic of immediate interest that warrants searching the Scriptures to see what the Bible says.
Here are some other potentially helpful resources.
1. Connect. Let the OCF Home Office (303-761-1984) know you have a new group started.
2. Continuity. Train your wingman or someone else to take over when you are absent or you move away.
3. Be flexible. Our military Christian community has many needs, especially now with a very high OPTEMPO. Be sensitive to the needs within your group–especially those participants with a family member deployed. Find practical ways to support each other.