As I dropped off my kids this morning at school, I thought, I can’t wait for summer. No more carpool, homework, football practice. A schedule with very little on it, and what’s on it is flexible. Now I know as an adult, I don’t get over two months of vacation like my kids, but the summer feels more flexible. It feels like there is more time in the days and weeks...
So why not spend the summer tackling Paul’s letter to the Romans?
This summer, Jim and I will be teaching through Romans. We’re doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that with people taking vacations over the summer, this is an easy way to stay connected. If you miss a week or two, you can keep up simply by reading the part of Romans you missed. But our main goal is to invite all of us into the studying of it—not just on Sundays, but throughout the week.
We’d like to invite every Connect group to spend the summer studying Romans. Part of the purpose of Summit Connect is to learn together. Because Romans is such a dense and profound book, Jim and I will only be able to scratch the surface from the pulpit. In fact, in 15 weeks we will only make it through chapter 8 (that’s halfway). Our teaching of Romans is just one part of the way we as a church family engage in God’s Word.
What if you aren’t in a Connect group? If you’d like to get in a group, it’s easy to do. Just shoot an email to Eddy Moratin (Herndon), Sam Arocho (Waterford), or O.J. Aldrich (Lake Mary). They’ll get you plugged in.
But here’s the thing. Even if you don’t formally join a Connect group, my encouragement to you is to find a few people and study Romans together for the summer. Maybe you meet with a couple buddies over coffee before work on Wednesdays, or you get together with two other couples once a week to have dinner and a discussion. Maybe you decide you are going to lead your family through Romans.
It can look any way you like, but the goal is for us all to be in Romans together, trusting that the Spirit of God will use our study to bring about transformation in our community for the sake of others. Timothy Keller, in the introduction to his study of Romans, says, “The letter to the Romans is a book that repeatedly changes the world, by changing people.” Some of the greatest leaders in church history were changed through their study of Romans: Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, just to name a few.
Where to begin?
I know reading a book like Romans can be intimidating, so I’d like to suggest to you four study guides that I believe will be helpful in engaging with God’s Word this summer.
You might not know this, but every Tuesday we post a summary of the previous Sunday’s sermon with discussion questions on our website at summitconnect.org. (If you miss a week, you can listen to sermons here as well.) I highly recommend you check it out each week during Romans and use some or all of the questions in your group time. My strong recommendation is to use this in conjunction with one of the studies below, because like I said, Jim and I will not be able to cover everything in Romans. There is so much more for us in this great letter of Paul’s.
The following studies can be found online by clicking the links below. They are also available in your campus Resource Center:
This study is comprised of two books (Romans 1-7 is covered in one and 8-16 in the other). This is a great resource if you and your group are consistent about reading outside of your time together. Keller explains the text with strong illustrations and practical applications. The questions at the end of each chapter are well thought-out and easy to discuss. This study will take you 24 weeks if you cover a chapter a week (which I recommend).
N.T. Wright has a way of asking questions that make you think a little bit differently than you have before. This 18-week study guide to Romans will do just that. If you choose to go with this study, I recommend the leader of the group purchasing N.T. Wright’s corresponding commentary (part 1 and part 2) on Romans to more fully understand what Wright is doing with the study guide. The study guide can be used without the corresponding commentary, but it becomes quite a bit richer when they are used together.
This 12-week study is great for groups who don’t like a lot of outside prep work. You can read the week’s text from Scripture and immediately begin discussing the questions found in this study guide. There are also some unique features to this study guide that I really appreciate. At the end of each chapter, there is a list of theological words with simple definitions. Also at the end of each chapter are brief summaries that show three things: how the text points to the gospel; how it’s connected to the rest of the Bible; and how it should shape our theology.
I’m so excited to see how God uses Romans this summer to help change us into the image of Christ for the sake of others.
When in Romans…