True confession:    I didn’t have a very high expectation of Bible studies when I first started going to church as an adult. I was prejudiced against the word “Bible” itself.   I thought the initials BS in the bulletin stood for, well, B.S.  I’m not sure why, but I didn’t expect to learn anything new.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Do your people carry the same unconscious prejudice?  The truth is a vibrant study of the Bible can transform a whole congregation.
Here are my top 3 tips to keep Bible study fresh:

  1. Adopt a sense of curiosity.  Especially when reading the parables of Jesus.  They don’t go where his listeners expected them to.  The parable of the Good Samaritan should have had a Priest, a Levite, and an Israelite passing by the wounded man.  Not a Samaritan; not your mortal enemy.  Seriously??
  2. Go slow.  Shoot for quality not quantity.  Be willing to see a new word, notice a twist of phrase, ponder a turn in the story.  I love the story of God calling Samuel.  And the humility of Eli, even in his failings.
  3. Consult a new commentary.  When pastoring an African-American congregation, I got the Original African Heritage Study Bible.  It gave me a whole new perspective on things.  Like how many characters in the Bible are black, how much of the Biblical story is set in Africa, and how completely unbiblical racism is.

Would love to hear how the Bible comes alive for YOU!
Also, if you’re interested in bringing a new depth to your Lent and Advent studies, shoot me an email about teaching Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes or Christmas through Jewish Eyes at your church.
Here’s to a fresh look at an ancient book!