Several years ago, a friend called with a question about something he read in the Bible. He was wondering how the passage he was reading connected to another passage. He invited me to come to his office so we could talk about it. His office happened to be in the shop at the local golf course, so I immediately went. Needing a place where we could be uninterrupted, we got on a golf cart and began looking at the Bible. He had all kinds of questions. I loved meeting at his “office” with him asking Bible questions and me asking for golf swing tips.
In effect, I was teaching him how to do Bible study on his own. Many of the things we did were looking at cross references, comparing passages, and looking at key words. Over time, the conversations changed from questions to sharing what we had discovered in our own personal Bible studies. Those conversations became rich exchanges as we both shared insights gained. Eventually, he became a Bible study leader in our church. I’m glad he was a better student in Bible skills than I was at swinging a golf club!
Helping others develop Bible study skills adds depth to the group. Individuals who study on their own prior to the group experience can share the insights they gained, get clarity, and sharpen the thoughts of the others in the group, adding value to the whole experience. Developing personal Bible study skills also helps each individual remember biblical truth. If you or I get told something, we might remember part of what we were told for a few days before that fact becomes a distant memory. However, if we discover the fact for ourselves, it becomes our fact—one’s we own. When we own something, we tend to care for it differently. Another reason to help others develop Bible study skills is the reality of the life cycle of a group. There may be a day (and likely will be) when that group is no longer available to us. We can then depend upon the skills we learned while in that group to find the truths of God’s Word ourselves. We can help others do the same for themselves. Those others may even be our children, nieces and nephews, or a neighbor.
We must not underestimate the value of developing and sharpening Bible study skills. They are the tools that will help us become the Christ-follower God has called us to be.
G. Dwayne McCrary is the team leader for the Adult and Young Adult Explore the Bible teams, leads a weekly Bible study group for his church, an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and carries 20-plus years of church staff experience.