This is the first blog post in a series that talks about ideas for Bible study for your adult faith formation, if you are looking to go beyond a traditional curriculum. Come back each Thursday for more tips and ideas.
Planning a Bible study is can be challenging, especially when you think that you've exhausted the go-to themes and messages. Maybe your finding that it's easier to lose focus and go off on irrelevant tangents with general topics as well. It could even feel like you've gone through all your available faith resources and have nothing new to say.
One way to re-engage and revitalize your Bible study group is to focus on a single verse. Since one verse can have several valid interpretations, this approach stimulates discussion, creativity, and it allows you to move naturally from analysis to a broader discussion.
Find your verse
When looking for a Bible verse to choose, consider something that has generated controversy or interest in the past. Commonly misunderstood verses are a good choice.
Likewise, verses from the Synoptic Gospel – the writings of Luke, Matthew, and Mark – make for interesting discussion because each of these evangelists recount the same events from a slightly different perspective. This allows you to explore their differing interpretations as well as consider your own.
Contextualize the verse
Let's say you chose Luke 13:19, which retells the parable of the mustard seed: "[The Kingdom of God] is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
You can contextualize this verse in several ways:
- Discuss its placement in each of the Gospels
- Discuss differences in the parable, as told by Matthew, Mark, and Luke
- Discuss why Jesus Christ chose parables to relate his message
- Discuss interpretations of the verse over the years
Debate what it means for Christians today
Once you've done your research and provided historical context, it's time to figure out how the parable applies to your life in the here and now.
What small seeds have you planted in your life? Have they ever developed, taking on a life of their own? Are the birds hiding within the branches or seeking shelter there? In other words, are these unknown consequences or motives in actions that you've undertaken?
Hosting a Bible study for your adults around a single verse can be a great way to spark conversation in your communities and keep it different, interesting, and engaging from week to week without requiring a huge time investment from your community.
This Lent, Sparkhouse will be sharing Bible verses on Mondays on Facebook with a devotion to share with your adult community! Use it as a way to start talking about Bible study with those in your community that may be less engaged than others.