On occasion, we hear someone say they no longer provide Bible study resources to the group members in their church or group. We hear things liked they don’t read it anyway, we find books in the classroom and want to be good stewards, and we just send an email with the passage. Instead of addressing each of these items, let’s look at some of the whys behind these excuses.
Why One: We don’t expect them to study.
Most of us will live up to the expectations placed on us. When in school, we invested in the classes where teachers expected the most of us. We knew they expected us to be students and they communicated those expectations through their comments. We rarely heard them say they didn’t think we would read this or that, usually doing the opposite. They led their class as if we had completed the assignments. We knew they would ask us a question about what we gained from reading an article, or how we approached the math problem, or if we thought Dante should go with Virgil and why.
A subtle way of us communicating to our Bible study groups that we don’t expect them to do anything is encouraging them to leave their Personal Study Guide or Daily Discipleship Guide in the room where they meet. How can they do any study outside the group time unless they have some type of guide to help them do so? Wouldn’t it be better for them to leave their guide at home and use it through the week than to leave it in a classroom and use it for less than an hour in those same seven days?
Why Two: We don’t equip them to do so.
The teachers with the high expectations usually showed us how to compete the assignments. They may have given us a guide that would direct our thought process or show us how they read and reflect on an article. They may even provide a set of who, what, when, where, how questions to help us learn to do it on our own. Instead of simply reading a passage from The Inferno, they may have used various dolls dressed in different clothing to help us visualize the characters. In doing so, they are teaching us a strategy for reading a book filled with complex characters.
Providing the individuals in our group a tool to do personal Bible study is only a start. Handing a person a pair of adjustable pliers does them no good if they don’t know how to use them to remove the drain of their clogged sink. We need to make sure they know how to adjust the pliers and which way to turn them when loosening the pipes. The same is true when it comes to the personal Bible study resources we provide everyone in our Bible study groups. We need to show them how to use that resource to do personal Bible study.
Why Three: We give them little reason to do so.
Let’s go back to the teacher who asked about if we thought Dante should go with Virgil and why. It that teacher presented a summary of that assigned section of The Inferno during the first 45 minutes of the class, most of us would not read the assignment. Granted a few might read the assignment, but the way the teacher taught gave us no reason to read the assigned section since we know she will tell us everything we need to know anyway.
If we are the leader of the Bible study group ministry of our church, we may need to look at how we conduct training at this point. How many times have we been to a training on teaching and only one mode of communication was used? If we want the teachers we are training to use multiple teaching methods, then we need to model those methods in our training. We can’t expect them to do what we are unwilling to do.
The bottom line is people need to do Bible study as individuals and with a group. The two work together to help each person grow in their understanding of Jesus and the life He wants them to live. The failure of people in our church not doing both is, in part, our failure.
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