Press On in a Bible study group

The ways the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit members of one Bible study group in St Ives, Sydney, will sound all too familiar to most of us: working from home, kids learning online, loss of employment, stress, ill health, and so on.

“People were feeling overwhelmed and weakened by the whole experience,” said Marie Day, who runs the group with her husband Steve.

“Everyone was feeling a bit battered after COVID – we were looking for something to strengthen and encourage us.”

The group usually follows a plan provided by their church, Christ Church, St Ives. But not long after the first lockdown they decided to devote a couple of months to looking at their mental wellness from a biblical perspective, adapting the Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute’s Press On program to a group context.

“The care ministry worker at church put us on to it,” said Steve. “Keith and Sarah Condie had just launched it, and we were the first to facilitate it in a growth group.”

As they went along they fed their experiences back to the Condies who, in response, fine-tuned aspects of the course. A group option has since been made available online.

The Days found that members needed to commit to the whole course, since the content is inter-connected, and do the necessary preparation, but if they do, they will reap the benefits.

Feedback from the group showed they appreciated the “practical strategies alongside biblical principles”.

“The big picture takeaway for all of us was that body, mind and spirit are connected,” said Steve. “Unless you’re healthy at all levels, you can’t be as effective in your service to the Lord.”

“Unless you’re healthy at all levels, you can’t be as effective in your service to the Lord.”

Marie noticed a difference between the triggers for anxiety between men and women in the group – broadly speaking, the men were more likely to feel out of control when confronted with difficult exterior circumstances, such as losing a job, while the women were more likely to be worried by interior and relational concerns.

But they all felt encouraged by the emphasis on growing skills to build resilience.

“We’ve had a couple of very stressful times in our lives, where I felt very overwhelmed and trapped,” said Marie. “The course helped me see it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be in very difficult circumstances, but you can turn the focus off the negative and towards what you can control, and what’s positive.”

Learn more about how to do ‘Press On’ in your Bible Study group, at your church, or individually at home:

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