I mentioned this book in my last post (which was a while ago now) I’m about half way through and it is encouraging and challenging. It’s got some very practical ideas about how to develop ‘simple church’ and one of which is regarding bible study and I’ve typed up a passage below to stimulate thinking and hopefully discussion!
Over the years, we have come back repeatedly to two or three different patterns of bible study. The method is not the vital issue, but what is important is that the method leads to participatory discussion.
The pattern that we use to teach most often is based on three symbols: a question mark, a lightbulb and an arrow. We begin with a passage of Scripture, and one person in the group reads aloud a verse or a sentence. Occasionally (for example, with one of the parables or a gospel story), it may be appropriate to read the whole passage before going back to explore it verse by verse. The group then looks for things that correspond to the symbols. The question mark obviously signifies something we don’t understand. A person might say, “I have a question mark on this verse. What does it mean when it says…?”
The lightbulb is used to represent something that sheds light on that passage of Scripture or something going on in a person’s life. So one person in the group might say, “I have a lightbulb on this verse. This describes a situation that happened to me at work last week…”
The arrow represents God piercing a person’s heart – he or she has heard from God and needs to do something about it. A participant in the group might say, “God has been speaking to me about this for a while, but I’ve been ignoring it. I’m going to have to change….This is an arrow for me!” Or, “I’ve just realised from this verse that God wants me to…”
Once a verse or a thought has been covered, then we move on to the next one.
We have frequently used this method to start churches, especially when working with unbelievers. With our group of not-yet-Christian business people, we studied the book of Proverbs in this fashion, looking at principles relating to business and wealth. Although it began as a business-focused study, over time, every person in the group became a Christian! The seed of the Kingdom is the Word of God, which is living and active and life changing (Luke 8:11; Hebrews 4:12)
Another pattern we use in simple church is to read a verse and then ask everyone to comment on it, answering three questions: What does it say? What does it mean? What difference does it make in my life? We used this pattern with a group of new believers in a low-income housing project…..It is also important that people pass on what they are learning to others: “Who do you know who needs to hear what we have just discussed? Share with them about this over the next few days and let us know next week how it went.”