In order to make it slightly less intimidating to visit a study for the first time, the following gives an overview of what you can expect if you show up at a study (online).
We start gathering shortly after 7 p.m. While we wait for everyone to show up, we have some small talk to get to know each other and check in with each other. After 10-15 minutes, we start the study. Studies begin with an opening question, which provides an opportunity for everyone to start thinking about the topic and to share a bit more about themselves. Then we usually read a text of the Bible. We start first by bringing up what we notice in the text and then we look at more specific questions for the text. The person leading (usually the pastor) provides some background information and thoughts from a commentary or two. To close the study we focus on how the text provides hope and applies to our lives, especially in the context of academia. The study finishes by 8:30, and the pastor generally closes it with a short prayer. Whoever would like to sticks around for a bit to chat. See this link for an example of a recent study on Job or an example of the questions we’d ask in analyzing a text (Mark 5).
Pub theology follows a similar format: gathering at 8:30 p.m., starting with an opening question around 8:45, the group is presented with a list of questions that provides a start to a conversation to a specific topic, and the discussion finishes by 10 p.m. See this link for an example of a recent pub theology discussion.
In the studies (and pub theology) everyone is welcome and encouraged to speak and share their opinions. We ask only that people attending be open to Christianity, be gracious to each other, and to be willing to have their thoughts/opinions questioned. We are especially mindful to challenge each other about how our answers might be (negatively) heard by someone who isn’t entirely sure about faith or has heard too many simplistic answers about Christianity.
Hopefully this gives you a sense of what to expect: if you’re still anxious about attending, feel free to contact us about meeting with someone before attending.