Bible Study Methods or Method?
One of the strengths of Evangelical Christianity is the insistence that members of the body can study God’s word on their own. Churches, seminaries, and parachurch ministries have done a great job creating resources for people to dig deeply into the Scriptures.
A trend I’ve begun to notice is an over-emphasis on one particular way of studying the Bible, the “Inductive Bible Study Method”. The seminary I went to had a course entitled “Bible Study Methods” that in reality only taught one method, Inductive. While the Inductive Method is a helpful method, it certainly is not the only way to grow from reading the Bible.
In our Destino movement we have a value that students who graduate will be exposed to a variety of ways to study the Bible. We want them to experience diversity in examining the Scriptures that is often missing in evangelical training programs.
We’ve identified at least four different Bible Study Methods we want to train our students in:
- Inductive Bible Study Method – Precept Ministries has a good overview of the process: 1) Observe, 2) Interpret, 3) Application. We have led this method in the past and will continue to do so again in the future.
In our experience this method does not speak to Latinos as much as it does to white students. It often comes across as dry and academic, focused on knowledge about God. Since we minister on a college campus it is easy for students to begin to think their spiritual life is about obtaining more information about God, rather than living for Him.
- Lectio Divina en Familia – We modified the traditional Lectio Divina (“Divine Reading”) method so it could be done en familia, in community. Our study was written by Destino students for Destino students. Download “Lectio Divina en Familia”.
Lectio Divina focuses on helping people “chew” on God’s word. A passage is read 5 times and the group shares how God’s Spirit is speaking to them through the Bible. It helps people learn to listen to the Spirit and how He is communicating with them. This method is helpful in settings where people may be hesitant to participate. It promotes group participation that is independent of your knowledge of the whole of Scripture. Anyone can participate and share.
- CHAT Method (Essentials) – Steve Douglass helped developed the “Essentials” Bible study format along with the Cru ministry at the University of Central Florida. Written for a postmodern secondary audio learners (can read but prefer to learn by listening/discussing) this format focuses on application and multiplication.
As our leaders became familiar with leading the Essentials format we adapted it and created our own Bible study over the book of Acts.
- Contextual Bible Study – This is a method we are just in the beginning stages of learning about. It focuses on the specific context of the readers, an area that Inductive Bible Study is completely silent on. We haven’t written this resource yet but plan to use it in the Spring in our movement.
It is common to hear that Inductive Bible Study Method is the most effective way to study the Bible. While we believe it is a helpful movement, we desire to have our students exposed to broader methods. If one of these ways connects with our students and they continue for a lifetime, we are excited.
When it comes to studying the Bible, we believe the more diverse the methods people know the better. God is a great God who is known through a variety of learning approaches. Let’s not limit Him to revealing Himself only through one method of study.
photo courtesy: eyebiz