How to Start a Fathers Midrash

Today, the question is how to start a father’s Midrash. Now I first want Jeremy to define that term in a second. Because I think we use that as insider language sometimes on this podcast, but what does that mean? I think the distinctive, it’s similar maybe to a Bible study or discussion, but there is a difference and a distinction that I think is why we use that word. That’s really important. But this also came from a question called, a question from our Five Minute Fatherhood group where he said, “We’re coming up on this fall group, small semester. Or jeez, fall small group semester at church. And I’m looking to do something a bit different. I’m trying to get my three closest guy friends together for a Bible study every other week. But I’ve been struggling to have this be a priority for them. Jeremy, I love the idea of the Monday Bible study or the Midrash that you do. How do you get that started?” So, yeah, Jeremy, how would you answer that question?

Yeah. So we’ve started a lot of these and we just call them fathers Midrashes around the city of Cincinnati. And a big part of doing this is really keeping it super simple. These are literally zero prep for me. Ours is now on Thursday night. And so 8:00 PM every Thursday night, about 10 guys that come over. It’s nice and summery out. So it’s my front porch. It’s one of the highlights of my week. Jeff’s joined us for some of these because they’re really fun.

8:00 PM is late for me, but it is a blast.

Yeah, exactly. But it’s really a great experience. It’s super simple, you guys. And if you want to start one, basically the formula is that you pick a book of the Bible, or a whole section of the Bible and we’ve done a whole year in the Torah, which is Genesis through Deuteronomy. Right now, we’re going through the book of Romans. We’re about to go back into the Old Testament. And what we do is we just read a couple of chapters, literally, the way we do that is, I just start, I pray. I have snacks and drinks out and we’re all just hanging out. And I’m like, “Okay guys, we’re going to read…” We just did this on Thursday night, Romans 12 and 13. And so I’ll read a paragraph or so. And then it’ll just kind of go around the group and everyone reads.

So by the time he gets around to me again, it’s usually we’re done. And then we just sort of, like I say, “Okay, what stood out to you guys?” And part of what I like to do, and we call this a Midrash because it’s sort of an old Hebrew word for when the rabbis would get together and try to figure out, how do we interpret a particular law from the Torah. And then how do we apply that. It was a really intense discussion because whatever they decided to do in terms of application would apply to the entire community. And so there was a lot of accountability in these Midrashes. And so they would Midrash like their life depended on it, because it really did. They were like, “Ah, is that what it means? Really?”

And it became verbal law, yeah.

Yes. And so they were really, they were legislating law. And so part of what I like to think about when it comes to this is that I want to make sure that dads understand, that how they are interpreting and applying scripture has such a massive impact on their family. That they shouldn’t be studying the scripture, always on their own. They need to have other men who they are constantly sharpening. Because their decisions about the interpretation and application of scripture is going to have such a dramatic impact on their wives and children that they need a place to go to really hash this out.

And man, we do. We have some drop down, drag out conversations sometimes in these Midrashes, because it’s really a big deal. What is this actually saying? What is it saying? We just had a very intense Midrash on Romans 13. It’s very interesting, and how you interpret it has massive implications about how you think about government and violence and pacifism and blah, blah, blah. So this is a huge deal. So I need, I just know I need to be sharpened by other men. My dad’s a part of that, which is super awesome. But yeah, we just read the two chapters or so. Then we, just people, sometimes you’re silent for a couple of minutes, as people are rereading some of the passage and they’re like, “Hey, what does he mean by this?”

Usually starts with observations. People… And what I like about that is it kind of lets the Holy spirit bring to the surface potential parts of… We’re not going to discuss and get to the bottom of two chapters of the Bible in an hour, hour and a half. So part of what we’re trying to do, just submit the time to the Holy Spirit and say, what do we need to talk about? We just read a bunch of verses. And so usually somebody will bring up an observation on a particular verse. There’ll be about a 15 to 20 minute discussion about how to interpret it, how to apply it. And then there’ll be a lull. Someone will bring up another verse, we’ll have another discussion. Someone will bring up a theme that’s kind of woven through the whole thing. And so the book of Proverbs is a great place to start.

If you’re going to do the book of Proverbs, you might want to only read one chapter. But we, I think we do two chapters at a time. But man, there’s so much wisdom. If you want to have an incredibly fruitful discussion with other fathers, reading through Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, any of the wisdom literature is really, really an easy win.

And we just went through some of the gospels as well. I mean, any part of the Bible is great, but that’s how we do it. And then usually what I do with the last 15 minutes is I sort of say, “Okay guys, we just talked about a lot stuff. We talked about applying a lot of stuff. Let’s get in groups of two or three and share if there’s anything that you feel like from the discussion that you’re being convicted to repent about. Because how you transform as a Christian, as you repent and believe.”

And so my favorite thing from a Midrash is to find something that I get to repent about. Like, whoa, I didn’t realize I wasn’t believing this part of the gospel. I didn’t realize that I was resisting this clear line of wisdom from the scriptures. Or man, when so and so said this about this verse, it really impacted me. And I felt like the Holy Spirit was convicting me. So that’s kind of how we do it. Then we just pray for each other. And after we’re done praying, that’s the end of the Midrash.

So zero prep, super good. We’ve been maintaining these for many, many, many years in different parts of the city. And I would really encourage you guys, gather with other fathers and really work through the scriptures together. But yeah. Any other observations or thoughts about that, Jeff?

Yeah, no, I love it. I think it’s exactly what you said, of just centering around the scriptures in a weekly formational experience is huge. And I think starting that, the Lord just works great things.

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