Bible Study

The contextual approach, from the Willowbank Report
Published by: The Lausanne Movement (1978)

From the Willowbank Report: Consultation on Gospel and Culture, under the heading 'Understanding God's Word Today: The Contextual Approach':

Today's readers cannot come to the text in a personal vacuum, and should not try to. Instead, they should come with an awareness of concerns stemming from their cultural background, personal situation, and responsibility to others. These concerns will influence the questions which are put to the Scriptures. What is received back, however, will not be answers only, but more questions. As we address Scripture, Scripture addresses us. We find that our culturally conditioned presuppositions are being challenged and our questions corrected. In fact, we are compelled to reformulate our previous questions and to ask fresh ones. So the living interaction proceeds.

In this process of interaction our knowledge of God and our response to his will are continuously being deepened. The more we come to know him, the greater our responsibility becomes to obey him in our own situation, and the more we respond obediently, the more he makes himself known.

It is this continuous growth in knowledge, love and obedience which is the purpose and profit of the "contextual" approach. Out of the context in which his word was originally given, we hear God speaking to us in our contemporary context, and we find it a transforming experience. This process is a kind of upward spiral in which Scripture remains always central and normative.

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Author: Hanni Gruenig

How can we start women reading their Bibles when they have never done it before?

Many women in Africa do not realize that the Bible has answers to their daily life questions. Hanni Gruenig describes how she used a course of Bible studies to address relevant issues for the women who had completed the literacy course. She describes its impact on some of them.   [more...]

from Scripture Union

Manual and worksheets for training writers of Bible Guides.

SU International has helped with workshops for writers of Bible guides in Africa (francophone and anglophone), the Americas, South Asia, East Asia, Europe and the Former Soviet Republics. These workshops have given opportunities to develop resources for training, and to test them in different contexts.

This brief manual aims to bring these resources together and make them available on the for Bible ministries staff around the world to make use of and adapt for their own context.  [more...]

An interactive workshop for training listening group leaders and promoters
Author: Richard Margetts

The training workshop described in this guide was developed in West Africa and includes input received from around the world. It is for listening group leaders (those who lead/facilitate the groups) and for group promoters (those who visit groups to encourage them and mentor the facilitators).

A listening group is an opportunity for people to get together to listen to a passage from the Bible and talk about it together. In this guide, you’ll find elements which focus on the ‘why’ of listening groups as well as the practical details of ‘how’ to lead a group.

WHY?
Group leaders need to know why they are doing what they are doing. What is the aim of a listening group? What kinds of group can we have? How will we know if a group is working well or not? Why are they gathering together to listen? The aim should be transformational Scripture engagement: that people encounter God’s Word in life-changing ways.

HOW?
The workshop guide includes sections on how to lead the listening time, how to manipulate the audio player and how to ask good discussion questions. It can be taught in an interactive way and participants should have plenty of opportunity during the workshop to practice participating in and leading listening groups.

An ideal time for such a workshop could be when new audio Scriptures in the local language have been recorded for a community and when audio players are available. It would work well at the launch of a listening group programme in a region, after some initial promotion work has been done to get churches involved and committed to running groups.

The guide is downloadable here in both PDF and Word formats and is published under a Creative Commons License, meaning that you can adapt it for use in your context.  [more...]

Author: Kenny McKie
Published by: Scripture Union Scotland

A new resource for leaders of small groups of young people. Designed to let the Bible speak to young people, and to allow you to train yourself to be a Bible Mentor. For use in school SU groups, primary or secondary, SU holiday group-times, Bible class groups, seeker groups.

"I believe we should re-commit ourselves to relational ministry with open bibles, and I want to invite all who are involved with young people to live by the Book and to open it with young people throughout our Land... I want to offer this simple tool to encourage volunteers and “professionals” alike to spend good quality time mentoring regularly with groups of children and young people, by simply opening the bible, reading it together, and asking one another some good questions.” (Kenny McKie)

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A tool which churches perceive to be of value in furthering their goals
Author: Keith Benn

What excites us most is that people who have never before led a Bible study are now having regular studies in their homes.

This article relates how Bible study cassettes on Genesis 1-11 and James have had a big impact on the Central Bontoc people of the Philippines. It outlines the format of the Bible studies and the ways they have been used both within churches and in evangelism, and how they support the development of literacy.  [more...]

Como tornar a Bíblia relevante para todas as línguas e culturas
Authors: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill
Published by: Vida Nova (2010)

This is the Brazilian Portuguese version of the book Translating the Bible into Action by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill.

A tried and tested resource that encourages meaningful Bible use in multi-lingual contexts through both written and oral media. Includes activities, assignments, further reading resources and links to useful websites.

This version has two extra chapters in addition to those found in the English version - "Addressing human concerns: Alcohol abuse", and "Sharing your faith with animists".  [more...]

How not to write Bible study questions
Author: Richard Margetts

Article in English and French (2015).

As well as teaching the sorts of questions you should ask, it can also be helpful to highlight the sorts of questions you shouldn’t ask, i.e. what kinds of questions or series of questions can be unhelpful or uninteresting? What kinds of questions should I probably avoid if I want to encourage a good Bible study?

This article sprang from training local church leaders in preparing participatory Bible studies for small groups. It describes 15 types of questions to avoid when developing such studies, including:

  • questions that are repetitive or uninteresting;
  • questions that deviate significantly from the main point of the passage;
  • application questions too soon before participants have had the chance to really look at the text and understand it;
  • questions that jump around from one verse to another, without a clear progression towards the application;
  • application questions that have little relevance to the lives of the group members.
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