Get into the word, not into the theme
It seems that the phrase ‘Bible study group”’ is a common part of ministry. Tons of youth groups have these ‘Bible study groups. It is, hopefully, a time to “get into the word of God”. However, do they really get into the word? I’d better explain.
One of my friends leads a ‘weekly Bible study’ … however, they don’t appear to study the Bible! They studied a modern Christian book for males—a good book, with lot’s of great stuff to say, but it is not a book of the Bible. They now want to move on to a DVD series on ‘Relationships’. This group is called their ‘weekly Bible study’.
This seems to be a pattern for many, many churches and youth groups.
Isn’t a Bible study a group where we … study the Bible? Is it all that difficult to open up one of the great books in the Book of Books and go through it? Sure, it can be tricky. Yes, we have to do a bit of prior preparation. And, it can lead to a difference of interpretation and even get a bit heated sometimes… but Bible study is great. It is living, active, shapes our thinking and what we believe. It keeps us on the narrow road and informs our actions. If we keep this away from the people in our churches and youth ministries, we do so at our peril.
Here’s a suggestion for youth leaders: run a study in the book of 1 Thessalonians. This is the earliest letter that Paul wrote, was written to a group of recent converts, and is filled with teaching and exhortation that is not all that difficult to understand. When you are done, look at the book of Job. The first two chapters will capture the interest of most young minds. Spend a week or two on the long discussion in chapters 3-37 and then focus on God’s response at the end of the book (ending with the Epilogue in the last chapter). Great stuff and (almost) guaranteed to thrill your small group. You could then move on to a themed study that comes from the word of God: Who is Jesus? or What does the Bible say about suffering?, these would be great topical studies that are based in God’s word.
After opening the Bible for 6-8 weeks, if you want to ‘take a break’ for a week or two, go and grab a DVD on relationships. But this is the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.
If you are not into actually opening the Bible in Bible study can you call it something else… Theme Study perhaps? Or, Topical Response Group? Or, even Modern Author’s Opinions Thinking Group Discussion?
Love to hear your thoughts….