by Shirley Crowder
I love studying the Bible as well as helping others study the Bible. I hope the following will not only help those who want to write Bible studies, but that it will give a grid through which those who desire to delve into personal Bible studies can study the Bible.
I usually have an idea of what type Bible study I want to write/do: topical or book/passage. Sometimes as I study passages, it becomes clear that the other type study is what would best cover the things I want to include. Both types of studies are valuable in helping Christ-followers grow in our knowledge and understanding of the Bible and how to apply its commands and principles in our daily lives.
There are three basic steps:
- Study the Scripture passage.
- Make notes as you study.
- Organize your notes and write the Bible study.
I recently had the opportunity while traveling home from a conference to ask my dear brother in Christ, Dr. Howard Eyrich, “What makes a good Bible study?” I love his three points because they provided the structure for the things I consider as I develop a Bible study.
The most important thing to do when you want to start writing a Bible study is to pray! Ask the Lord to lead you as you study and determine the shape of your Bible study.
As you are reading, studying, contemplating, and meditating on the Scripture passage, make notes of important truths, themes, and words. I usually make bullet point notes of things that I can ask questions about.
Dr. Eyrich’s three points:
- Don’t start with a premise and determination to prove your premise.
- Inductively study the passage.
- Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.
Don’t start with a premise and then set out with determination to prove your premise.
I have been in and read so many Bible studies where it is obvious that the leader/writer began with a premise and set out with determination to prove that premise. They have everything in the Bible study “prove” their premise—often by using poor Bible study techniques. These studies often do not teach the verse or passage in the context of the chapter, book, and testament in which it appears.
Inductively study the passage.
Inductively studying the passage means the Bible is your source or textbook so that every session focuses on reading and understanding the Word of God. Asking questions leads you and others to discover the answers from the Bible.
I suggest staying away from “What do you think this means?” or “What does this mean to you?” questions. Always point people to study the passage for what it says in its context and the biblical principles you can extrapolate. I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?”
Inductively studying the passage leads you to study carefully as you: Observe, Interpret, and Apply the Word to your life.
- Observation is asking, “What does the passage say?”
- Interpretation is asking, “What does the passage mean?”
- Application is asking, “Based on what the passage says and means, how do I apply it to my life?
Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.
Once you have the results of your inductive study, you need to look at each result and evaluate it theologically or biblically through the lens of Scripture, making sure your results are biblically/theologically accurate.
Dr. Eyrich encourages us to not be satisfied with just the application—how to apply the Scripture or biblical principle in my life. He encourages us to consider the implication—if I apply these principles in my life, what things would follow or what affect would that have on me and my life.
Check other Scripture passages that pertain to your topic and make note of the cross-references you can use throughout your Bible study.
Decide how many chapters the Bible study will contain. How many days or weeks will the study last? At this point, you decide whether to have one lesson for the week or divide each lesson into daily portions to be studied.
For topical studies, your topic will help you determine what to cover each week. For instance, if you do a study on “The Fruit of the Spirit” you may decide to have eleven chapters:
Chapter 1: Overview/Introduction to “The Fruit of the Spirit”
Chapters 2 – 10: Each chapter covers one of the Fruit of the Spirit.
Chapter 11: Wrap-up
Read through the book or passage numerous times to find the important topics for each chapter. If you choose Psalm 1 for your Bible study, you could compare or contrast the way of the righteous man and the way of the unrighteous man.
Start writing and organizing.
As you write, you will also need to take the role of teacher/leader, making certain you supply background, definitions of words and phrases, and the context of the passage.
Many folks will have thirty questions for the week—six questions per day. However, instead of staying to a formulaic approach, I prefer to have a mix of quick short-answer questions and some that take more research, study, and contemplation to answer, so my Bible studies have varying numbers of questions per day/week.
Review, Rewrite, Refine
In this step you want to make sure the questions make sense and actually ask what you thought you were asking.
This is a good time to ask a friend or two to work through the study and help you identify anything that needs clarifying or that needs to be rewritten.
Writing Prompt: For a topical Bible study on “Trusting God,” what Scripture passages would you use and what questions would you ask?
Click to Tweet: I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder, “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?” https://ctt.ec/yb94L+ #WritingBibleStudies