To what level do you agree with the statement that everyone needs to study the Bible?
This idea captivated Arthur Flake as an adult. He believed in that statement so much that he left a successful business and joined what is now Lifeway as the first Director of Sunday School. Sunday School began to lose its way in the early 1900s. Some began to focus on adult groups and ignore children. Others focused on believers, missing the opportunity to involve people who were far from God. Others focused more on gathering people just like them and ignored others with different ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds. In Flake’s 1920 journal, he simply wrote “All need it—all need to study the Bible.” “All” was a radical idea in 1920 as America recovered from the Spanish Flu, a post war economy, and social unrest.
Under Flake’s note about everyone needing to study the Bible, Flake wrote: “people who do not go to Sunday school do not study Bible.” Flake connected individual Bible study with participation in a group Bible study. Healthy Bible study groups hold each other accountable for studying beyond the group, on our own. The most common metaphor used in the Bible to describe God’s people is the word “sheep.” Sheep need to eat every day, and Christians need spiritual nourishment every day, too. Unless our Bible study group meets every day, then we must learn to feed ourselves.
We may study before the group time to prepare to participate in the group discussion, or we study after the group time to dig deeper into the truths introduced during the group time, or we do both. The issue is not so much about whether we prepare or study in response, but that we engage with the Bible every day. Flake understood the value of Bible study in a group and for individuals. Both are affirmed in his journal, and one is seen as supporting the other.
One way of encouraging others to study the Bible is to invite them to participate in your Bible study group. If we believe that everyone needs to study the Bible, then we ought to be inviting everyone to our Bible study groups. A second way is by building community within a group around open conversation about a Bible text. A group can do both; build community and Bible study. A third way is by providing everyone resources that will help them study with the group and on their own. That is one reason the Explore the Bible team creates the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide, to encourage people to study as a group and as an individual.
To what evidence can you point that you agree with the statement that everyone needs to study the Bible? Preview four session of Explore the Bible by completing this form.