Continuing the look at small groups, I notice that one of the most common questions I’m asked about Bible study groups is just how one goes about studying a text. Often somebody points to a note in their study Bible and says, “I don’t see how they got that. I can’t see it in the text. How am I supposed to learn how to do this?”
Well, quite often I can’t see just where certain study Bibles got their notes either. At the same time, you might be missing something because you haven’t practiced studying enough. And there is one key to Bible study–practice. People want to learn how to study and then jump into the Bible and see all the wonderful things they had hoped for. But like swimming, there is the time you have to get into the water, then the time that you first try to swim apart from any support, and there’s no substituting for getting in and doing it.
But for your small group, it might be helpful to have a little guidance along the way. For that purpose I prepared a pamphlet which Energion Publications makes available on the Participatory Study Series web site. It is titled I Want to Study the Bible!, and it is available in Microsoft Word (XP/2003) document format as well as PDF. The site includes permission for you to print or copy as many as you want, as long as you don’t alter the content. There is a section included for adding contact information for your church or ministry.
This pamphlet provides a very basic outline of an approach to Bible study. You will likely want more over time, but this will get you started on a rewarded path of Bible study. If your small group needs some guidance to start studying directly from the Bible for yourselves, consider printing out a copy of this pamphlet for each member, and then try letting go of the edge of the swimming pool–the water’s fine!