BIBLE STUDY STRATEGIES
Do you ever wish you didn't have to rely on someone else's teaching for Bible study? Would you like to learn how to move your Bible reading up to the next level--of studying for yourself? These strategies are based on reading strategies teachers use with their students to help them learn how good readers interact with a book rather than simply reading through it. In working with these strategies in a school setting, I began to think of them in relation to the Bible. I used them as a starting point, then tweaked them and expanded on them to apply to Bible study. You will probably think up more questions of your own, but these questions will get you started.
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After reading through a passage for content, go back and reread for meaning. As you reread, stop often to reflect and ask questions--interact with the text. Your questions, which may appear to be "talking to yourself," are actually a way of entering into a conversation with the Author of the book: God (the Holy Spirit). This type of "conversation" will help you to personally connect with the text. Instead of your Bible reading time being an exercise that never impacts your thinking or your life, interacting with God's Word helps you find personal meaning and leads to spiritual growth.
1. Questioning: What did I notice in this passage? Begin by asking who, what, when, where, why, how questions. How does this relate to what I already know about this idea or character? Where can the answer to my questions can be found: cross-references? margin notes I have made? other study books? Pastor, teacher or friends? Can I read selectively if I need to find the answer to a particular question?
2. Making connections: What do I already know that the Bible says about this? Where else in the Bible have I read something related to this? Do I need to note in my margin that this relates to another helpful passage? Have I or someone I know experienced anything like this? How does this passage help me to better understand God, the Bible, how God works, and what is happening in my life?
3. Visualizing: Can I picture this story, the context, the situation, or even a similar present-day situation in my mind? Does a "movie in my head" help this passage come to life and help me personally relate to this situation? What facial expression or tone of voice do I hear or see? What other expression or tone might give a different meaning? How might this person be feeling? How would I feel?
4. Inferring: Biblical truths aren't always stated in exact words in a given passage. Can I infer a biblical truth from this story or passage? Can I combine elements from various passages to determine the truth? Does this confirm something I knew or wondered about, or does it cause me to revise my thinking?
5. Determining importance: Can I pick out the main point from the less important details? Can I state in my own words--not quoting exact words--the main point of this passage? this chapter? this book? the entire Bible?
6. Synthesizing: How can I apply this knowledge to my life, so that my knowledge becomes understanding? How can I change my thoughts, or my reactions in a specific situation, to better line up with God's Word? Can I identify more than one layer of meaning in this passage?
7. Interacting with the Author: What does the Author want me to know about this topic? Why has He included this in His book? Why is He spending so much time on this scene, character, topic, or fact? Have I figured out the Author's "Big Idea"? This passage was not originally addressed to me--how is God speaking to me through this passage?
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