When a small group gets together for Bible study, the goal should be to find out what God is saying. But a conversational bible study can turn into a night of shared ignorance. How does that happen?
- Opinions supersede the search for truth
- Consensus leads a group to believe there has been right interpretation when in fact, the majority misconstrued what God was actually saying.
- An outspoken group member is so animated no one is willing to question he/she because of the level of tension that will be created.
- Group members voice quotes from various celebrity voices (in most instances this will be an author more than one person in the group has read) allowing that public figure to be the final word. Bottom line… it’s possible that the opinion of an imperfect human being is allowed to trump the all knowing author of the book you’re studying… God.
There are some things a group leader can do to keep the Bible study time from becoming a night of shared ignorance.:
- Take the time to study the passage so you know what God is saying.
- Give group members permission to question one another’s opinions.
- When a group member shares and opinion, ask he/she how he/she came to that conclusion.
- Remind group members that reading Christian authors should not replace daily time in the bible.
- Make sure group members bring their bibles, especially those with study bibles. Oftentimes a group member reading the notes found in a study bible will be able to clarify the true meaning of the passages that are causing confusion.
- Choose curriculum that includes commentary. Serendipity by LifeWay small group resources do this. www.serendipityhouse.com
- Make sure the right voices are the final word. Sometimes a Christian author, communicator, teacher, or curriculum writer is given so much credibility by multiple people in the group that the group chooses to refer to that Christian leader’s opinion each time a passage is being discussed. Remember, some Christian authors may not be as biblically astute as you are. And many have a different doctrinal bent than you and/or your church.
- Remind group members that sometimes there is no clear cut understanding and that it’s okay to live in the mystery, that God can think in dimensions humans cannot. Deuteronomy 29:29
- Allow people to share their perspectives but be certain, before the meeting ends, that God’s opinion is the final word.