When Explore the Bible was first introduced back in the day, the centerpiece resource was what we now call the Personal Study Guide. This resource was designed for use by everyone in the group. It enabled everyone in the group to study a Bible passage prior to the group time so they could more readily participate in the group time. It also provided a way for people who were absent to study on their own, staying in step with the rest of the group. All the other resources supported the Personal Study Guide. This followed the traditional model for ongoing adult Bible study groups, commonly called Sunday School. The Personal Study Guide we have today continues to carry that role and model. View how to use video.
In 2017, an alternative was introduced in the form of the Daily Discipleship Guide. Content from the Personal Study Guide was reshaped into five daily studies to be done AFTER the group time. The group time becomes a time to create a skeleton with the group adding some meat to it in their individual study in the week after the group time. Only the leader is expected to prepare for the group time, enabling the group to reflect on the previous week’s study throughout the week. View how to use video.
We need to note here that a group needs to use one or the other because of the expectations. The Personal Study Gudie anticipates people studying prior to the group time, while the Daily Discipleship Guide anticipates people studying after the group time. While the content may be the same, the expectations call for a group to use one or the other. Other groups may be using the opposite of what our group uses but we need to be together within any group.
How Do We Decide?
Account for the group’s expectations. Some groups expect to study prior to the group time and may feel slighted if they are not given that opportunity. Some groups grew up with a particular expectation when it comes to their education. Those expectations will color what they believe to be “real” education and we will need to keep that in mind when making our choice.
Consider your teaching style. Plans that support both resources encourage discussion. The discussion will be different in a group that has studied prior to as opposed to a group that studies afterwards. If the group studies prior (the Personal Study Guide model), we will need to prepare to clarify and give extra insight when leading the group. If we expect the group to put together a skeleton (Daily Discipleship Model), we will need to help week out the unworthy rabbits that may arise during the group time.
Factor in the guest quotient. While every ongoing Bible study group should be open (a person could join at any time, some are more likely to have guests than others. For example, a group that has been together for five years will have less guests than a group that has been together for five months. The laws of relationships tell us that. Remember, the Daily Discipleship Guide is built on the idea that people study after the group time, making it easier for a guest to fit in since no one has studied prior to the group time.
Both The Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide are good options for encouraging the group to study inside and outside the group. Some will never study outside the group, but that does not negate the need to encourage them to do so and to provide a tool that elevates the value of personal and group Bible study.
Compare the Personal Study Guide and the Daily Discipleship Guide. Complete the form and you will have access to samples of the first four sessions for Fall 2022.