I’m a head-first-diver. When I decide I want to do something, I set my mind to it … and go. Sometimes this approach works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are some cases that you just need to dive in and see where things take you. There are others that a bit of planning and foresight will go a long way. Bible study is one of the latter.
It’s important to recognize that Bible study is a journey and every time we open our Bibles, we lay another layer down for the step ahead. And since it is a journey it is oh-so-helpful to understand where we are and where we are going.
Step 1. Place yourself on the Bible Study Boulevard
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.1 Peter 2:2–3 ESV
We all start out on the left—a Bible Study Beginner. Peter tells us to be like babes who long for the milk that will enable us to grow up. Our spiritual life is just like our physical life. In order to grow, we must take in nourishment. The rate of our spiritual growth is in direct correlation to the amount of “milk” we take in.
No Bible, no growth. A little bit of Bible, a little bit of growth.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Then there is the end goal when it comes to our ability to study the Bible: an accurate handler of the Bible. This means that we ought to be able to open the Bible, read it, study it, figure out what it means (interpret), and walk forward in worship of the God who wrote it (apply it). There is a biblical expectation that all who come to Christ also become accurate handlers. All Christians eventually should be able to eat the meat.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.Hebrews 5:12–13 ESV
This is not meant to be a guilt trip, but a reality check—so that we can correctly place ourselves on the Bible Study Boulevard. Once we know where we are, then we can choose the right next step.
ASSIGNMENT: Take a moment in honest evaluation of where you are at on the Bible Study Boulevard. Pick a “hex” above, and take a mental note.
Step 2: Know where to put your primary focus
Build the Habit —> Gain Understanding —> Worship God
Build the Habit
When we are first starting out in our Bible study journey, we need to focus on building the habit. Start small and doable. Get the quick win and build on that success. Place your energies on showing up. This doesn’t mean that you won’t gain any understanding—you will—but you need to first put your best effort toward getting into a rhythm of regularly opening your Bible.
Once spending time in the Bible has begun to become routine, you are ready to move on and take the next baby step toward understanding the Bible. Now you can start using those brain cells to focus more about what you are reading. You can flex those Bible study muscles and begin learning how to accurately handle the words in the Bible.
All along the way, you are worshiping God. You don’t have to wait until you know everything about the Bible and perfectly live it out before you can worship God with your life. (Spoiler alert) You never will! The depths of the Bible can be mined for a lifetime. And not one of us will ever be able to obey it perfectly. (Good news is, Jesus did on our behalf!) However, every intentional step you take along the way is one that says, “God, I want you more than ________.” And as you gain understanding, you get to see God more and more clearly. As you get a better and brighter view of who God is and what His best plan is for your life, you will naturally want to respond in obedient worship.
ASSIGNMENT: With where you are in mind, decide if you need to focus primarily on HABIT or UNDERSTANDING. Now we can move on to choosing the right next Bible study baby step for you.
Step 3. Pick the right approach for you
This is where things get exciting!! Now that you know where you need to focus, you can put together a plan. I’ve laid out all the products I have available so you can see where they are on the boulevard. Each is designed to help prepare and propel you forward to the next Bible study baby step.
Choose by skill level
- Completely out of the habit? Never read more than a few verses at a time? —> Pick a short doable reading plan like this one.
- Completed at least a few weeks in a row of Bible reading? Studied the Bible before but it’s been a while? —> Add a simple Bible study method to your time.
- In a great routine of Bible reading and ready for a challenge? —> Learn how to go deeper into inductive Bible study.
These decision-making suggestions are based primarily on skill. But you can also make your choice by the time you have available that day.
Choose by time available
We all go in and out of seasons. Some allow for long, lingering times in the Word. Others we’re barely making it and need something quick yet effective. Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you used to study a certain way means you have to study that way right now. Chose a study that fits within your time frame. Over time, you can increase your time as you are able.
Of course, there are loads of other reading plans out there and Bible study tools besides these. Go out there and try out as many as you can. We all learn differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Bible study. All of my products are build to help you toward the goal of being able to rightly divide the Bible on your own. However, there are some really, really awesome Bible studies out there that are geared primarily toward understanding. I’ve completed dozens of them and grew tremendously from them. You may not learn how to study your Bible, but you will gain LOADS of understanding on the topic or the book it teaches on. There is a place for both!
ASSIGNMENT: Chose an approach and prepare for your next step. Here are a few resources you might find helpful.
- Read this post on how to start reading the Bible
- Beginner Bible Study tips
- More about the FLEX 3-6-9 Bible study system
- FOCUSed15 Bible studies available
- FOCUSed15 training – Bible Study for Busy Women e-course
- Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you
- Study with the Bible Study Hub—an online women’s Bible study group— for accountability and encouragement
Step 4. Start Studying
Now all this is cool info, but it all means nothing if we don’t move forward! To recap, here is what we’ve covered:
- Place yourself on the Bible Study Boulevard.
- Know where to put your primary focus. (Habit? Understanding?)
- Pick the right approach for you and prepare for your next step.
Now, it’s time to dive in. Start now. Determine your next baby-step and take it!