Is It Helpful to Study Bible Together?

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Answered by: Lincoln, An Expert in the Studying the Bible Category
Is It Helpful to Study the Bible Together?

People study the Bible for a lot of reasons. Some are transfixed by the poetry. Others enjoy the historical stories. And still more people read to understand their relationship with God. There are more ways to understand the Bible than there are translations on bookshelves. Some folks do just fine on their own. Even so, there are times when it's good to study Bible together.

Studying by yourself has benefits. You decide how you're going to learn. There's time to go deeper when something puzzles you. And you don't have to share snacks. But there are ways personal study falls short. No one is there to talk things over with. You hit a block in studies and can't get around it alone. And sometimes, you're sure you're wrong about all of this.

But being afraid to be wrong is no reason to join a group Bible study.

People who study Bible together grow in different ways than when they read alone. One reason is you have a chance to listen to Scripture in different voices and translations. Hearing the Bible out loud can draw you deeper in than you've been able to get alone. Another plus is the chance to get to know people outside of church. When groups have healthy dynamics, they can be places to share about life's struggles, challenges, and joys!

Now that you feel excited and ready to sign up, pause and take a deep breath. Don't join one just yet. No one should randomly jump into any old Bible study group. Things like this work best when you choose them carefully. What do you think makes one worth attending over another? Here are some things to consider:

Affiliation: Do you want to join a group attached to a local church, secular community organization, or one from an online service like Meetup? Each has some positive points. The online one may bring a more diverse crowd. A local church group has access to further study options. And a secular organization's Bible study can still help deepen your faith. Seeing Scripture as metaphor and literature can open your eyes to new ideas. Interacting with people who have been hurt by church culture might open your heart.

Length: Your first exposure to a group setting should be short. Signing up for a 16 week study, regardless of topic, is probably not a good idea. A better way to test the group format would be a 4-8 week general study. Also, give some thought to the topic you want to cover. The first meeting you attend should be broad in nature. A short overview of a particular book or idea is a good introduction to a group Bible setting.

People: It's also good to find the right people. Not perfect people, because a group of perfect people doesn't exist. Some choose to attend study groups that divide along population lines. A few of the most common ones are: gender, race, and marital status. Others do best in a mixed crowd.

Leadership: A well-balanced study group leader is essential. While it's alright to look at the literal wording of a verse or group of verses, remember there's also context to consider. A thoughtful facilitator will pepper the talking with historical facts, related Scriptures, and other knowledge to help bring the picture into focus. A leader who loves the Bible loves questions.

The biggest benefit is this one: you can learn stronger Bible study habits. Plenty of people get frustrated trying to read the Bible and quit. It happens for lots of reasons. One of the biggest is that no one taught them about interacting with the Bible in the first place. So they wander along, plucking resources from everywhere. Then they stitch them into a Bible learning pattern that's a bit like Frankenstein's creation: ugly, but alive for the moment. Once the battery runs out, that Bible goes back where it was, gathering dust and protecting furniture.

However you lay it out, joining a group Bible study has a lot of potential. But you must take the time to choose well. A good place and topic, combined with a comfortable setting, puts people at ease. If you have a leader who loves teaching and doesn't pretend to have all the answers, there's no limits on learning. You may even be able to break habits that have held you back.

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