March 7, 2011

March Musings - #1

Next week, I celebrate another year of life. I think back when I was the same age as my girl, how I had my life planned and knew all there was to know about...well, everything. I look at her now, tell her I know exactly how it feels to be 12. I wonder if, when I look away, she rolls her eyes the same way I did when my own mother spoke those very words.

And I wonder if she thinks she has it all figured out, the way her mama did. I shake my head at my own naivete, to think I had all the answers. The longer I live, the fewer answers I have.

There are also more questions. I've decided to pose some here throughout the month of March. I'm issuing an invitation to an open forum discussion, reserving the right to moderate comments that do not speak to to the topic and/or show respect for other commenters.

Please remember that I may have an answer in mind, but I do not suppose it to be 100% correct. I am genuinely interested in your input. I'll come back to share my own thoughts in a follow-up post. I hope we can all learn together.

Here is the first question(s):

What are the qualifications to classify something as Bible study (speaking to the material, gathering, or both)?


Lisa writes... said...

Not to be a smart aleck (really!) but...the first qualification that springs to mind is THE BIBLE. Whether speaking in terms of the gathering or of the curriculum, the Word of God must be at the center, the forefront, and the main topic for Bible study to occur...

Great question and I'll be following the comments for more thoughts!

Barbara H. said...

I agree with Lisa: the Bible needs to be at the forefront. Not even what we feel or think about the Bible, though that will color discussions, but what it says itself. I've been to some Bible studies and through some Bible study books that were very meaty, really digging into the Word, and others that were just fluff and/or very feeling-oriented.

Alana said...

In the literal sense it would be one or more people communing with God to study the Bible, but I think the term gets used loosely at times in the church. That is a tough question when you consider semantics.

Leslie said...

I agree with the previous ladies. For a study to be a Bible study then I think the text should be the Bible, either a specific book of the Bible or a study of what the Bible says about a specific topic.

Lisa notes... said...

I agree with everyone so far - Bible study is basing a study on the actual Word of God. Reading a text and learning from the actual text what it meant at the time and what it might mean to us today.

HOWEVER, practically-speaking, I hear people use "Bible study" to generally describe a gathering of Christians meeting for other good purposes as well - praying, singing, etc. All good and valuable purposes, but not technically "Bible study." Just needs to be called another name. :-)

Hope that makes sense.

I love what you're doing here, Melissa!

Carrie said...

Yup. I'm in agreement with the ladies above and...don't really have anything to add! I prefer an actual Bible text study to a topical study.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I don't think I can add anything to what the ladies above me have said. However, in my mind, I think I'm doing "Bible Study" even if something I've read sends me to the Bible. In other words, if I am meditating on or thinking about the actual Bible, I am doing Bible Study.

Becky said...

To have an efficient Bible study you need to study the Bible.

I have learned in the last few years that what we women need desperately is not one more book on how to be a better a mom, or a lovely wife. We are starving, spiritually starving! We need to feed our souls, our minds with the Word of God; we urgently need to study the Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse.

We need to believe it. To memorize it, to encourage each other to do this.

Just because the way we are,(too emotional let's say), we need to work hard to study the Scriptures in context. We are so prone to wander, so easily deceived, that we need the Word of God to help us think biblically. We forget so often that the Bible is THE one book that is the source of Life. Let's be sincere with ourselves, we tend to love to study other books, books that inspire us, books with ideas, and practical advices more than the Word of God. The Doctrines that are contained in it should be our passion; getting to know these doctrines will help us uphold our Christian faith against any thing that may distract us from Him; and at the same time these doctrines (teachings) will be our anchor against any "new idea" that springs here or there.

So yes, in conclusion, to have a Bible study you need to study the Bible. :)

Much love to you all!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I'm pretty careful to distinguish a book study (for instance, Captivating or Shepherding a Child's Heart) from a BIBLE study. A Bible study in my opinion involves studying the BIBLE...though some sort of guide book may be used to prompt discussion.

A small group study CAN be a Bible study if the Bible is their text, but I tend to call it "small group" or "community group" instead of Bible study. I'm a bit of a legalist about semantics in cases like this. :)

bekahcubed said...

I think that most of us (myself included) have a hard time with the concept of studying. We understand reading or cramming (hello, undergraduate degree!) or skimming reference materials (terrible, but that's been a lot of my grad school career).

Yet studying implies that we are digging deep into the Scriptures, seeking to understand them. Seeking to understand what the words on the page mean. Not just what they mean to us; but what they mean, period. Seeking to understand how different pieces of Scripture fit together to give us a full understanding of a subject.

While Bible study often includes some subjective reflections, I think it should always have a component of objective understanding.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Looks like my thoughts are in line with the other commenters. The heart of Bible Study (whether it's an individual or a group, a book, etc.) must be Scripture. I think it can be delving into Scripture for a deeper of understanding of what God has said in a verse passage, or book; but it can also be studying to accurately apply God's word to a current situation or contemporary topic. No matter what, primary importance must be given to God and His Word.

Our small group is currently going through the book Crazy Love. We're having good conversations, and I would even say that the book is causing me to think more about God and who He is...but I don't classify the book (or our group's conversations) as "Bible Study."

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

My thoughts are similar to everyone else. A BIBLE STUDY uses the Bible as the main text or uses a workbook where the primary focus is the Bible. Some Kay Arthur and Beth Moore workbooks come to mind.

However, I wouldn't say ALL of their books are Bible studies. Some are application studies, for lack of a better term. There are numerous books of this type out there. They usually apply various scriptures on a given topic - from weight loss to mothering to marriage. There's nothing wrong with these books - they just aren't an actual Bible study. In my opinion. :)

Trisha said...

What a great question! I echo Becky's thoughts here. What a wonderful privilege, too, to encourage that love of His Word in our children.