During the heyday of the Vince Lombardi era, the Green Bay Packers once lost to an inferior team. Nothing went right on this particular Sunday. The team members dropped passes, missed blocks and were guilty of shoddy tackling (or not tackling at all!).
After this shockingly bad performance, the legendary coach informed his team there would be no customary Monday off. "Be at practice tomorrow morning at 9:00 sharp!" Lombardi reportedly barked. "We're going to go back to the basics."
History records that as the Pack huddled around Lombardi that next morning, he began a lengthy, grueling practice by holding up a pigskin and saying, "Gentleman, lesson number one: This is a football."
We smile at such an obvious truth. But oftentimes it is that which is most elementary and fundamental that gets overlooked or forgotten. This "back to the basics" principle applies to every area of life—including the world of small groups. The next time you have an "underwhelming" small group study time (or preferably before your group meets!), ask yourself these ten questions:
- Have I spent an adequate amount of time in prayer? The psalmist recognized his great need for divine illumination and cried out, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law" (Psalm 119:18). Do you want God to do something exciting in and through you? Do you want your group members to be challenged and changed as they study the Word? Then pray! D. L. Moody once stated, "Behind every work of God you will always find some kneeling form."
- Do I know what the passage says? This is the basic Bible study method of observation. In this critical prepatory step we approach the text like a detective, carefully gathering clues. If we are sloppy or hurried in our preparation, we will likely draw the wrong conclusions. When we are tempted to show up at group meetings unprepared and shooting from the hip, we need to remember the sobering words of James, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1).