Let’s be honest. A lot of purported group Bible study is little more than reading a few verses and asking, “What do you think?”
Often the resulting conversation moves quickly from the biblical revelation to the reinforcement of whatever opinions were brought into the room.
Rather than hearing something fresh from God and experiencing the transformation that can come from serious biblical inquiry, the discussion often stays focused on what those in attendance already believe.
At times, there is little regard for the cultural context in which the biblical revelation first occurred — to be followed by hard questions about how such a radical, counter-cultural faith can apply to the comforts of our daily living.
A favored approach, when the Bible is actually considered, is to focus on only those passages that seem to support our preconceived notions while ignoring the overwhelming calls for a higher moral response and a less-self-serving perspective than we want to face.
The problem is not that the Bible is insufficient but rather that our typical approach to the Bible lacks an openness to seeking and seeing truth that conflicts with our personal security and preferences. So we simply impose our thoughts on the Bible while ignoring the overwhelming biblical message that calls us to be and do something more daring.
Is Bible study helpful at all? Perhaps it all boils down to how we understand the Bible to reveal truth — and how willing we are to learn and experience something new.
It all begins with an affirmation that these revelatory writings are a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths — rather than a self-congratulating mirror.
The answer is not less Bible study, but better Bible study — with fewer of our opinions and preferences imposed on the Bible. It is honest wrestling with what God was revealing to the first audience — and then to us as well.
For that high purpose, Nurturing Faith Bible Studies (inside Nurturing Faith Journal) were created. These are the scholarly yet applicable good work of Tony Cartledge — who doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of the Bible or the hard questions that arise from serious Bible study.
In fact, the online teaching resources include “The Hardest Question” that Tony raises, and then offers a thoughtful response.
Also online are Tony’s video overviews (for teacher prep or to show in class) and “Digging Deeper” background materials, as well as teaching plans for adults (by David Woody) and youth (by Jeremy Colliver).
Nurturing Faith Bible Studies don’t insult the intelligence of thoughtful Christians. Yet these studies are insightful and inspiring, and very easy and affordable to use.
Simply get a subscription to Nurturing Faith Journal and the weekly Bible lessons are right in the center. A password on page 21 gives access to all the online teaching resources.
Group subscriptions make it convenient for Sunday school classes or other Bible study groups to have the lessons on hand at a great value. There’s no need to buy teacher’s books or commentaries; all of that is provided online at no additional cost.
Check it all out at nurturingfaith.net.
It’s a good way to learn something — that changes us for good.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.