Some things cannot be learned simply by watching someone else do them. You can watch a person lay brick or weld a perfectly smooth bead all day and not come close to doing it yourself at the end of that day. Bible study skills are in that same category. You have to do them to learn them.
Bible skills are taught in adult Explore the Bible in at least three ways.
The Bible skill feature. Each session includes one feature identified as the Bible Skill. The feature defines the skill and gives directions on how to do the skill. The directions are specific and target some critical element in the Bible passage being studied for that session. The same skill is featured in both the Personal Study Guides and the Leader Guides.
Approach to the Group Time suggestions. The group time suggestions give direction to the group leader for guiding the group meeting. The suggestions include ideas for doing Bible study activities as a group. The idea may incorporate the Bible Skill feature for that week, but not always. The design behind the group suggestions is for the group to participate in the group time as opposed to giving the leader notes for presenting a lecture. The group plans help leaders challenge the group to practice various Bible study skills together, learning from each other in the process.
Approach to the Personal Study Guide. Each study in the Personal Study Guide follows a regular pattern. After the printed Bible text, one will find a couple of questions about the passage. The reader then moves to the commentary on the text that includes questions that foster interpretation of the passage. The goal of this section is to help people understand what the passage means. At the end of each study, questions have been included to move people to apply the truths discovered. If you are familiar with inductive Bible study, you will immediately recognize this pattern: observe, interpret, apply. In effect, every study teaches the group how to do inductive Bible study.
Helping people learn or improve their Bible study skills is a key element of Explore the Bible, permeating even the way a session is organized. Bible study skills are important if we are going to develop transformed disciples.
G. Dwayne McCrary is the team leader for the Adult and Young Adult Explore the Bible teams, leads a weekly Bible study group for his church, an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and carries 20-plus years of church staff experience.