How Not to Prepare a Bible Study
One Tuesday in May, I was leading a Bible study at our Weekly Worship Meeting — it was a bit last-minute, but I thought I could get it done. I studied the passage that morning for about an hour, and then squeezed in some more study and question-writing time in between student appointments. Well, we did study the Bible, but it was a bit messier than I had hoped. Here are my top five tips if you're aiming to prepare a sloppy Bible study:
1. Don’t begin studying the passage until the day of the study. This way, you’ll be sure to come up with all kinds of questions about the text, but you won’t have time to answer them. The key to leading a messy Bible study is to have lots of questions but without having them lead to a main point.
2. Try to write Bible study questions in five-minute spurts. This will enable you to lose your train of thought between question-writing sessions. I used this technique and came up with a truly unclear question: “What’s all this life stuff about?”
3. Don’t leave enough time to study your questions in a biblical-reference book. Using reference materials will only encourage creative thinking and logical connections. To achieve real unpreparedness, you need to avoid these tools at all costs.
4. Avoid investigating the context of the passage. Studying the context will only heighten your sense of clarity about the passage. Be sure to choose the passage randomly, without reading any of the surrounding Scripture.
5. Make sure you don’t have any time to wrestle with the passage personally before the Bible study. Taking time to understand this passage and apply it to your own life will only inhibit your ability to lead a sloppy Bible study. What little time you spend preparing should be spent in information-gathering alone, and not in absorbing the text into your own life situation.
All satire aside, God spoke through the text despite my stumbles and lack of preparation. I’m especially glad for the DePaul students — they have such good Bible study instincts now that they were able to pick up my slack. And, no matter how much time one spends in preparation, nothing absorbs Scripture like a person eager to hear from God.
I have a new-found appreciation for a small handout I wrote up for my students to have as they prepare for Bible studies. While it is a bit of a lengthy process, it gives adequate time to let the passage linger in one’s mind and seep into one’s life. So, if you are one who would rather avoid sloppy Bible studies, here are the tips for you:
(Exhaustive) Tips on preparing for your Bible study
Your personal study (20-40 minutes)
Research (20-40 minutes)
Study questions (20-40 minutes)
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