I still remember turning to my dad and asking, “What am I doing here?” before my first National Bible Bee (NBB) Summer Study meeting. I questioned what I was doing walking into a group of strangers, knowing only one thing about them. That one thing was that we were going to be studying and memorizing Scripture together. Because I was feeling a little shy, nervous, and unsure of what to expect, I wondered “Do I really have to be part of a host group? Why can’t I study on my own?” But by the time I left that evening, I was very excited about the study, and I couldn’t wait to begin!
Quickly, the benefits of the community in the form of our host group became evident. They encouraged me as I studied and memorized, especially when discouragement hit. Several times I felt unmotivated and wanted to quit, but they inspired me to keep going. I left our weekly meetings with fresh energy and a fresh desire to keep going. As a first-year participant, I had many questions as I tried to figure out what exactly I was doing, and how to do it. I didn’t have much experience with memorizing or studying the Bible, but others shared many helpful tips and ideas.
Over time we went from fellow participants to something more; we became friends with a common passion – a desire to know God’s Word and make Him known. Not only did I get to know my host group, but I also connected to other contestants through the NBB online Social Community. After the Summer Study, qualifying contestants for the National Bible Bee Competition (NBBC) were announced. Despite being competitors, the online community continued to support and motivate each other. They shared tips and resources out of consideration for each other. At the NBBC, contestants encouraged, helped, and prayed for each other while competing for the prize. By the time the competition ended, I was in love with this incredible community.
Why is a community focused on Scripture so influential? It brings together two powerful forces that God uses to work in our lives – His Word and fellowship with other Christians. Here are six of the benefits community provides:
- God’s glory – in his instructions to believers, Paul explains why he calls us to unity in fellowship – to bring glory to God. “That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6).
- Growth – the amazing thing about God’s Word is its power to work in our lives, to transform and shape us into His image. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17). As we are sanctified by the truth, we build up our community and encourage others in their walks with the Lord.
- Accountability – being diligent in studying and memorizing is challenging, and having friends to keep us accountable is important. They check on our progress, help us, and go through it with us, which helps us to stay on track.
- Fellowship – the friendship and genuine love that grows out of hearts changed by the Word is a blessing not to take for granted. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:22-23).
- Encouragement – it is much harder to face discouragement, setbacks, and tough situations alone, but thankfully, we don’t have to. God encourages us through His Word, and through fellow believers. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
- “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- New Insights – God’s Word is so rich and full of truth that sometimes we read the same passage several times and learn or notice something new each time. When we share with others what we’re reading or learning from God’s Word, they might notice verses, connections, or applications that we missed.
Fostering a Scripture-focused community is part of the National Bible Bee. Having a host group you take part in is beneficial, both for the fellowship and for practical support. They supply valuable encouragement and motivation for new and experienced families alike. The online community provides another great way to be part of the NBB community. Who knows? You might meet some of your new best friends!
Find a host group near you when you register or join an online group. Don’t forget to join the National Bible Bee’s social community to connect with other participants, parents, and hosts as well.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to detract from the importance and power of being part of a local church. Instead, it focuses on the blessings the National Bible Bee community provides to its participants. The local church should be the foundation of our Christian community, even as we connect with other believers.
Written by NBB Alumna: Janese Hurst