Why do we study the bible?  For Christians, the answer is pretty simple… to learn more about our Creator, God.   Most people, no matter where they are in life, don’t know how to study the bible effectively.  Unfortunately, the way churches generally teach people how to study is more of the idea of a social-interactive group.  Not all mind you, but most.  Nowadays, with time being a huge commodity, and less of it to go around,  bible study preparation is going the way of the dodo bird. 

When I was going to high school I learned through FCA and college I learned through InterVarsity, how to lead bible studies from my pastor and the leaders in my community.  I recognise, that I am in fact spoiled, and perhaps I am a bible study snob—-I almost require there to be a higher standard when having a bible study.  The people that I learned from were well-learned in the scriptures and knew how to help the pages come alive with knowledge and depth.  My pastor and his wife, Breck and Robbie Castleman, along with my best friend’s father, Ernie Stevenson, and others that I was exposed to over the years: Bob Grahmann, Ravi Zacharias, Bill Hybels,  Eugene Peterson, Jim Sire, and others all showed me how a love of scripture begets a deeper understanding of our Lord.

I only drop names because, in the place I live, bible studies connected with churches seem to be a rehashing of the sermon from either the week before, or the upcoming one.  I’ve been to several studies and churches since leaving my college town, and almost all of them have some formulaic structure that ties the bible studies in with the program of the church.  That is a positive thing to a certain extent because that means that most of the church is on the same page, as it were.  However, if there is one thing that I am painfully aware, not everyone is at the same place in their lives.  Some people need baby steps, some need high hurdles.  Some need softball questions to learn about how to study the bible for what it says (and not what some random person says)… some need in-depth study that challenges one’s depth of understanding.

My mind and heart bristle at what appears to me to be a kind of drive-thru bible study format.  I’m probably the only one that I know that has an issue with it where I live, but it really bothers me.  On some level, it makes me believe that churches want to expect less from their members than they should.  Study of the bible should be a significant issue.  And whether they’re called life groups, huddles, small groups, community groups, family groups, cell groups (btw, not the best name I’ve heard), bible studies, or something else… a chunk of the purpose is missing to me.  The reasons why people should be in these groups are obvious: 

to be connected with one another in fellowship

to learn and experience the presence of God

to serve God’s purposes in the community

to become equipped to grow and mature in Christ

And churches that seem to want these groups to work behave as if they have to let the actual study suffer on behalf of making things pleasant so people will return.  Leaders of these studies have a heart for the people in their churches, they really want them to enjoy coming together, and the fellowship aspect is usually a positive one.  But the studying scripture part, that sometimes gets left out. 

It might be easy to assume that the actual scripture study happens on our own at home, but we all know that doesn’t usually end up being the case.  Yet, that is the only place where I have in-depth study… and it’s been that way for years.  Part of me wonders if that I am supposed to challenge that assumption or behaviour, and part of me wonders if I’m just really wrong to expect a depth and an appreciation for studying scripture from a bible study through my own church.  I’m left to wonder a bit…

aren’t we supposed to be growing deeper in our relationship with God through a bible study?

if so, how do we do that rehashing what someone said?  why not actually look at what God said

and learn to interpret and hear the Holy Spirit?

Just my thoughts rambling on.  Would love to hear what God is saying on the subject… and anyone else lurking around, your point of view would be appreciated.