The story of a Bible study.

People learn by doing, by participating in the task. But that’s hard to do, sometimes, with Bible reading.

We hear all the time in church that we should read the Bible. We read all the time on Facebook that Bible reading is at an all time low. And so we say, “read”.

But most of my friends have a hard time simply reading.

It’s not that they don’t know how to read. My friends are pretty literate. Many are writers themselves.

But they have a hard time knowing how they should read the Bible. And all the explanations of the different kinds of Bible literature (poetry, history, etc) and backgrounds and contexts don’t seem to help. They still come back to me and ask me questions about what this means and what that means. Where to start and how to proceed and what counts as study. And what happens when you ask uninformed questions in a group.

And so I started to think, “What if we wrote a group Bible study.” Not a set of questions. I mean what if I wrote the actual studying, the conversations and observations about the text. What if we asked each other questions and wrote that all out.

So I decided to write a Bible study. Or to start writing one.

planningI’ve been part of groups reading and studying the Bible for most of my life. I’ve been teaching those groups for almost forty years. From sixth graders to senior citizens, two people to five hundred, one session to a year-long study. I’ve heard lots of questions from lots of people and asked a lot myself.

I’m not going to do the whole study here. It’s not written yet. But I’m going to give us all a taste and see where we end up.

Stay tuned.


8 thoughts on “The story of a Bible study.

  1. josephruizjr

    Interesting idea Jon. I wonder if it will end up looking like a journal of a journey. I am so glad you pointed out the Dallas Willard book – In Christ’s Presence really absorbing it. I am looking forward to Lent and the 3rd season using your guide.


  2. Rich Dixon

    A while back I was invited to join a team to write a study which would be used by our church’s small groups. Amazing experience, especially since I had never met any of the folks on the team. It was a HUGE time commitment…before we started writing we read and discussed together a book titled “How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth” (no grammar/punctuation error in title). Then we wrote an eight-week study…comments, guidelines, questions. We had pastors’ very general sermon notes from months in advance and we knew groups from teens to seniors would use our guide as they followed the sermon series.

    If you want to teach a small group how to really read and study the bible, this is a process I recommend.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks Rich. I’m increasingly aware that “you just do it” is of little value to people who have never learned the scope of “just”. It does take time and intention and attention.

      On Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 10:11 AM, 300 words a day wrote:



    2. Rich Dixon

      You’re right, Jon. Mostly we’re really seeking an easy way to “just do it,” a shortcut that won’t require the training. Sadly, someone already sold all of those for $19.95 with free S/H. “Just” is a few situps, then a few blocks, then a few miles–over a few years.


  3. Lenore

    Several decades and several churches later, I now attend a church where I dare ask, “How do I read this Bible?” and expect to have explanations I never heard before. Scripture now makes sense to me in a way that makes me want to learn more and more.


  4. Elaine Stauss

    I too. am excited and interested in this idea. I’m anxious for a new depth of study, not just reading though I so wish always that I could make more time to read as it is so precious.


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