We discuss the different practices for Scriptural engagement. We are all different people. The best way to discover the treasures of The Bible is to know yourself and figure out what works best for you. There is no one right way. And every time we engage with Scripture, even if it is done imperfectly, there is value to be gained. We close this series by sharing which practices work best for each of us at Yellow Balloons and inviting you to share what works best for you.
Where would you suggest someone begin when starting to study The Bible?
There are two parts to this answer. First, where not to start. And “where not to start” is from what works for someone else. You should be weary of anyone who says, “this is the way”. Everybody is different and what works for one of us may not work for everybody. Sometimes we pass on our guilt and obligation to others; whether it is intentional or unintentional, it can cause harm.
So, the second part of the answer is “where to start”. Start with self-examination: what works for me? How do I learn best? Is it reading, listening, interacting?
For Tim: The thing that works best is to relentlessly ask questions. Tim thrives on interactive discovery. He likes to binge on going through something with others – an exercise of immersion. But we can’t do that all the time. The key is to know yourself.
For Annabel: She is very task oriented and it is hard to know what to do. She discovered discipleship classes with her church. There are assigned readings and it includes an interactive structure with a system to follow. It’s once-a-week, so she knows when it is going to happen; favoring consistency and having others to hold her accountable. Annabel is motivated by a routine she can commit to.
A similar resource is Community Bible Study (a national organization) that centers around a weekly reading of the Scripture and a set of questions to consider. The questions focus on “what does it say”?
For Joey: He actively resists routine and schedules; they make him feel trapped. He once committed to a very precise routine and was miserable. For some that might work well, but Joey felt disengaged and it was not optimal. He eventually discovered the value of memorizing Scripture – it slowed him down, solidified ideas, and forced him to focus. The key was to give himself permission to be in one place for a long time. Joey loves variety – memorizing during a train commute, reading through a different passage at the end of the day, etc.
Mix and match how you interact with the Bible. Explore different options, what didn’t work, what is beautiful about all of the ways to study, and figuring out what works best for you.
Another key is standing on the shoulder of others. You don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Go find what others are saying about a particular book. One resource helped Tim see The Bible as an interaction between people and not just a theological treatise, which unlocked his perspective of seeing Scripture as an adventure story.
The best way to learn is to teach. Tim started with small groups, sometimes kids and couples. When teaching kids particularly, it helps force us to simplify the message and get to its core. No one learns more than the teacher. Teachers must have humility about what they know and don’t know. Look for the questions to be asked. Always ask the question: what is a better question? How can you create structures that turn The Bible into an exercise of discovery?
For Kylie: She doesn’t like to sit still very long, likes to produce tangible things, and is incredibly sensory. The best approach for her is to explore how to make the Bible come alive via other senses. She has an app where you can listen to a group of performers reading The Bible – it even includes background noises. Engaging other senses help place her in the story. She is also a verbal processor who needs to share and engage with others.
The best advice we can give is to seek structures that allow for discovery rather than needing to find all the right answers. It is helpful when a teacher or mentor models not having all the answers. We are all co-seekers together. Accepting that reality helps us not to feel the pressure to be an expert and invites us to explore.
The hardest obstacle is simply starting. We are often looking for the right way rather than simply choosing a way and getting going. You start by starting, put one foot in front of the other. It is impossible to engage with The Bible and not be productive. Even if we do it poorly, it is beneficial.
Classes. Memory. Sensory. We all go through different seasons. Don’t be afraid to adjust your approach. Explore. Discover. There is no one right way to do this – there are a myriad of ways and all of them are valuable.
If you have helpful practices we did not cover, please email us: [email protected] or share it on our Facebook community page. Your insights may help other listeners engage more effectively with the Bible.
***All study resources mentioned within the series can be found here.