Creating an authentic environment for Bible study is very important if you want to employ the inquiry method. This is one of the first things you have to consider, when you form the activities for a study session. Now, the inquiry method is not the only valid approach to Bible study (there is a place for a more traditional approach in which a knowledgeable person teaches others by explanation and direct instruction). But inquiry method takes a completely different focus.
Can someone leave your Bible study, be presented with a completely different text from Scripture, and make observations, interpretations, and applications from the text using the methods you use in your study, without help or prompts?
Authenticity in Theory.
The idea of an authentic environment goes back to the purposes of Bible study. One important goal is that participants actually learn to study.
Ask yourself this:
Can someone leave your Bible study, be presented with a completely different text from Scripture, and make observations, interpretations, and applications from the text using the methods you use in your study, without help or prompts? If you are imparting the ability to study, as well as the meat of the passage itself, then the answer should be “yes.”
Build authenticity into the study.
You may be tempted to take time specifically to teach how to study the Bible. But you’ll find that you get better results all the way around when you do both jobs simply by letting the participant actually study! Then they can use the same techniques and strategies in their own studies that they learned by doing in the group study.
When you come to study a passage on your own, a list of questions does not appear for you to.
This is why providing a list of questions for Bible study is not as effective as many people think. It provides a good structure to the study, but that structure is not authentic. When you come to study a passage on your own, a list of questions does not appear for you to. Instead, you need strategies to approach a foreign passage to glean those truths.
Three important authenticity questions:
When your creating authentic activities for a Bible study, ask yourself these three questions:
- Can the participant use this activity throughout various passages?
A successful authentic study approach allows for flexibility. The same tools you might use to study how parallel gospels work together can also be used to study other parallel passages, such as Kings and Chronicles. By providing these tools through authentic activities, you’re giving people techniques to use in their own study.
- Can the activity, with practice, be applied individually?
An individual should be able to replicate a successful authentic study approach in personal study. So, strategies must be designed simply enough for the replication process. Say you ask participants to create a list of questions from a passage. Once they’ve done that a few times, they will learn to complete that task independently. The practice of asking questions creates a critical mindset, which is helpful in making observations.
Is the activity general enough to yield more than one right answer?
Remember that you are creating study tools that will be useful when you are not there. How will the participant do when you are not there to correct mistakes or watch over their shoulder?
They’ll need to learn to explore the Word and resources available provided to them. If there is just one answer, they may develop a mindset that you need to be there to provide that answer. Instead, participants should come to see you as just one more resource to guide their study.
Authenticity in a Bible study is what helps prepare Bible students for the individual study necessary for growth.
The more the group study techniques compare to their real-life situation, the more they will be able to succeed at study on their own. This mindset drives a lot of the decisions regarding in how the Bible study operates. It should not be taken lightly.
Parenthesis is a New Testament assembly work, created to inspire Millennials to look into the person of Jesus Christ, by looking into the Bible. Find out about (and register for) upcoming events here.