Connected to Lead
There’s always a backstory. For Cara Clark, a sophomore at Central Hardin High School, her story starts in 2017 as a 6th grader.
When the Southeast Elizabethtown Campus opened in 2017, Cara was one of the first to connect. As she began attending church and plugging into the Middle School Ministry (MSM), she connected to a small group with other 6th Grade girls. There are always a lot of meaningful relationships that take place when you connect and commit to a group, and one of the most impactful for Cara was with her leader, Anna.
At the time, Anna was a junior at Central Hardin. She had recently attended Bible & Beach, Southeast’s Summer camp for high school students, and was ready to step into a new opportunity to serve. MSM was that opportunity, and 6th Grade girls were her group.
For three years, Anna showed up every week committed to walk with, encourage, lead, and serve these girls—Cara being one of them. You can never underestimate the power of committing to invest in someone for three years (just look at Jesus’ philosophy of ministry—a 3-year commitment to a group of 12 men).
Near the end of Cara’s 7th-Grade year, she walked up to her Student Pastor after wrapping up another small group and said, “I know what I want to do when I get into high school. I want to be like Anna and lead a group of middle school girls, too.” She had seen the impact of being connected to a group and led by someone who truly cares, and wanted to do the same.
In March 2020, when Cara was in 8th Grade, the COVID-19 pandemic began moving school, church, and small groups online. Early on, as Middle School Groups shifted online, there was a conversation about the importance of staying connected to Jesus throughout the shutdown. Each student was challenged to begin reading a chapter of the Bible a day and use a method called SOAP—Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer—to engage with God’s Word in a new way.
For nearly her entire freshman year (360 days to be exact), Cara spent time every day reading the Bible, connecting to Jesus all while using the SOAP method. She spent the first 150 days reading one chapter of Psalms a day (if you’re new to reading the Bible daily, Psalms is a great place to start). One of Cara’s favorites during this season was Psalm 91.
Now, Cara is leading a group of 6th Grade girls every Sunday morning—challenging them, encouraging them, and helping as they follow Jesus.
If you saw Cara today, you’d never know her backstory, but hers is a story of connection. Led for three years by a trusted leader, Cara connected to Jesus by reading His Word daily for an entire year. Now, she is modeling the example set by that leader by leading a group of her own.
What Is SOAP?
SOAP is a simple Bible study method that includes four elements: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. To easily understand SOAP, let's use one of Cara's favorite Psalms—Psalm 91—as an example.
SCRIPTURE: What did you read?
Write down a verse or two from the Bible passage. Writing it down will help it stick. This is also a great way to try and commit it to memory.
Psalm 91:1-2: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
OBSERVATION: What did you learn?
In a few sentences using your own words, articulate what you read, what you learned, and what it means to you.
True soul-satisfying rest is found when I choose to dwell in God’s shadow. What does it look like to be in His shadow, though? How do I know if I am there? When He is the refuge I run to in my distress and the fortress I pursue in my anxiety, I know I am in His shadow.
APPLICATION: What will you do?
Draw out an application from the Bible. It might not be a huge theological truth, but instead be as simple as, “I need to remember God loves me.”
Dwell and trust. I won’t dwell in His shadow if I don’t trust His heart. If I want to grow in my trust of His heart, I have to get to know Him. I might not be there yet, but the more I spend time with God and pursue Him, I will know His heart, grow in trust, and begin to dwell in His shadow.
PRAYER: Write a prayer for the day.
In a few sentences, take all that you’ve just processed from your reading and write a simple prayer to God.
God, forgive me when I doubt You and choose to run to other things in my stress and anxiety. Show me Your heart as I pursue You today so that I can grow in my trust for You. I need a place of refuge and I need a fortress to run to. Will you be that for me today?