The power of community – Most cultures value meeting together and discussing serious matters as a group. It seems that the early church met in homes throughout the week, eating, praying, praising, talking about Jesus together (Acts 2:42-47; 12:12; 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:19). These house gatherings are a great context for letting ‘the word of God dwell in you [plural] richly, teaching and admonishing one another’ (Colossians 3:16).
The power of questions – Jesus used questions regularly to point people back to God’s Word: “What is written?” “How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26) “Why is it written?” (Mark 9:12; Luke 20:17). Certainly he often proclaimed God’s Word and give his definitive exposition (e.g. Luke 4:16-21; 20:37-38) but he was also very happy simply to point to a Psalm and ask devastating questions (Mark 12:35-37).
The power of searching – The ‘noble’ Bereans of Acts 17:11 were searching the Scriptures daily, checking what Paul had said against the Scriptures, checking that Paul hadn’t twisted them out of context. How much false teaching could be stopped in its tracks if those in the pews were meeting throughout the week, searching the Scriptures for themselves, seeing if these things are so?
The power of seeing for yourself – The Bereans hear Paul as he preaches Christ crucified but it is when they see the same things for themselves in the Scriptures that they believe (Acts 17:11-12 cf. similarly John 4:42). Preaching is hugely important in drawing people to Christ and can often bring instant faith (Acts 17:4) but it is very important that faith consists in being personally convinced by God’s Word.
The power of the Scriptures – It is possible to be convinced by a sermon simply because of the eloquence of the preacher, or because of his authority, or because of his cleverness and expertise in handling the Scriptures. But with a good small group Bible study we all go away thinking the Bible is actually very clear to any of us and very powerful in itself. We are convicted by the Word alone and the glory goes to God.