Bible study is a vital part of the discipleship process. But Bible study that instills knowledge without unveiling the larger story (God’s story) or the context of the story God is telling can be debilitating. Knowledge-based Bible study may lead to lists of do’s and don’ts that place individuals in the box of man-sized expectations without ever unearthing our Father’s God-sized power, love, grace, mercy, holiness, and justice.
When your group gets together take them on a Holy Spirit led journey into God’s great narrative, the Bible. A few things you’ll want to consider:
- Remind your group that the Bible is “the story” told through many stories. It is the story of redemption unveiled through many diverse situations.
- Put God’s expectations/do’s and don’ts in context. Every announcement of do’s and don’ts takes place in the context of an individual or a community’s story. Guide your group to discuss these rights and wrongs in light of the context in which that particular story is being told. But be sure the group doesn’t conclude that they are not held to the same standards as those in the story being discussed. Context doesn’t erase commandments.
- Guide your group to discuss who God is in light of his actions and activities. Every story reveals something about God, a personality trait or an attribute of His character. Some of the most life-transforming conversations a group has takes place when the group spends time discussing who God is in light of how He performed in a real life situation. I assure you, the group will see a much bigger God than they presently perceive to be when discussing the complexities of God’s character, actions, and decisions. This will stretch them but it will give them a more realistic view of Him.
- Allow each character in the story to come to life. When discussing the various characters in each story, interpret their statements and/or actions in light of who they are, who they represent, the role they play in the society they were in, and the culture in which they existed.
- Guide each member to conclude which character in the story most intersects with their own. In most instances each group member sees something of themselves in some character in the story. Help each group member conclude why they do. It is very possible that some unstated pain or loss or reason for celebrating God’s power in the past will become known for the very first time.