Bible Study

I know I have readers who are involved with church and bible study and I have a question for you. 

How do you evaluate whether a bible study is a productive/positive experience? 

I am really struggling with enjoying or even at times tolerating bible study currently.  The topic is fine.  It is a manuscript style study of Mark.  It relies heavily on small group discussion, however.  I feel like I am not in the right place right now or something to be able to take it in and participate.  I have had very little bible study experience and I don’t feel like I have very much to contribute.  Also, I find that I have been having a harder time with grief lately, which just makes me tend to clam up in general.  It doesn’t help that some of the group knows about Nathan and some does not and I feel like it is this big thing that effects how I feel about things but it is not something I can throw out there.  We do very little personal sharing and so somehow it seems hard to study the bible without applying it to your personal life but that seems to be what we do.  We dissect the text but it doesn’t seem like we apply it much to our lives.

I am really considering dropping it.  In fact the only reasons I am reluctant are that 1) there is someone in my group I really want to get to know better and 2) Lauren gets to spend time with one of her best friends while I am there.

This all seems to be about ME and that is not the point of bible study, I know.  If I stop this one I will look for something else, somewhere else.  Someone please tell me if I am being selfish and childish?

7 responses to “Bible Study

  1. Bible study is about you. Religion should be personal like that. If you don't enjoy the way you are studying it then what is the point. Shouldn't you WANT to read the bible and not have it be a chore? Invite your friend for a cup of coffee, have a play date for Lauren and find a way to study the bible that is fulilling. If you aren't having fun you're probably not achieving the goals you set for studying the bible in the first place.

  2. Well, there are a hundred different ways I could take this. lol But really the only thing you need to know is if this is where God wants you to be. You might not know why. You might not even 'like' it. But it still might be where He wants you. And then again, perhaps not. Like I said… really the variables don't matter as much as knowing what God wants you to do. I'm sure that isn't the sort of answer you were looking for. But I didn't want to just toss out my personal thought. I hope you can pray and find your answer to your dilemma. Anyway, I hope that makes sense! : )

  3. Bible study is not always comfortable or fun. And it is not always about knowing the answers. I find that I learn a lot from hearing what others have to say. I also believe that if you are uncomfortable, you may want to share that with the group leader because I am sure you are not the first or last to feel that way. I will keep you in my prayers. May God tell you where you need to be and to give you the courage to get past feeling uncomfortable so that you can learn the true beauty of the bible.

  4. Everybody has made some good points so far, Susan, but I most agree with Kay. I read your post this morning while nursing (no hands to type!) and so have been thinking about it for a few hours until I had a chance to sit down and type. in that time, the idea that kept coming back to the forefront of my mind is that you should try to decide if this is where God wants you, and how God might be using this study for His purposes. Because some of the "worst" Bible studies I have been in were the ones in which I grew the most–sometimes it is not even about what you are learning about Scripture as much as what you are learning about yourself in relation to Scripture and other people!But most of the time, God seems to patiently wait for me to pay Him the least bit of attention, and when I do, and actually open His Word and give it thought, he gives me the most relevant, personal tidbits. Seriously amazing, almost goose-bump making at times. His word is LIVING! So, in that sense, any study of the Bible is a good thing–making us do what we tend to not do without reason, but which is so life-giving!Saying Bible study is "all about you" is in some senses true, because of God's purposes for using it in you. But the phrase in itself is completely the opposite of a healthy approach to Bible study–because why would we read the Word of God unless we were hoping to meet Him there? The focus of the study should be all about Him–we don't grow and learn when we focus on ourselves but when we focus on the Lord, the origin of all Love, Truth, Hope, Mercy, etc. So it could be a very good thing that this study is challenging your interests, your comfort zone, your feelings. But if you find yourself too distracted by those things, and they are keeping you from engaging with God's Word, then you have to figure out what might be going on in your heart, your mind. Satan might be trying to thwart you–some people think it is ridiculous to talk about Satan as if he were real and at all active in our lives, but I have noticed in my own spiritual life that there are times when I am on the brink of renewal, greater understanding, closer walk with God, etc. and it truly seems like there is something actively hindering me. I have seen this in the lives of friends too. The Bible calls Satan "the adversary" and "the deceiver," so those are ideas you might want to consider. Or sometimes we are genuinely not where God wants us, and so feel a sense of disconnect, of unsettledness that could be a sign. I have felt this too, even at times when I was serving God through some ministry and it was not wrong, it just was not His best.But I cannot imagine the Holy Spirit discouraging you from studying Scripture. Why would God ever not want us to get what He calls our bread and water of life? The very things that sustain our spirit? Another idea: when you said you feel like you have nothing to say–maybe this is a period in which you are supposed to read, listen and observe. That has happened to me too. Maybe you need to give it another week of trial, and pray that God would give you peace and openness to whatever He has in store for you, in whatever way that manifests itself? See if preparing your heart before the study meets gives you greater perspective about what God's purpose might be for you being there. I feel so dry when I am not in SCripture, and so humbled when God honors my fleeting, sporatic dips into his Word with ideas I later find myself clinging to. Right now I am dry–but writing out these thoughts has made me thirsty! : ) so thanks for letting me think it through with you. I just started a Beth Moore study on Esther and am in the first week–let me know if you want to do it with me long distance! I am doing it on my own and need motivation! ; )love,me

  5. Gosh, re-reading that I sound so preachy. But you know I don't mean it that way, Susan! You just got me all passionate. It is also perfectly OKAY to step away from such a dynamic–who is God is not the one who understands you completely, who is ever patient, ever loving, who will not condemn you for having a period of weakness, withdrawl, or even plain old selfishness! (not that I think this is the issue-but if it were, He is bigger than that!)Vulnerability to the Spirit is a good thing, whatever happens to get you there. xoxo

  6. In my own life, I find many different measures of productivity/positivity in activities like Bible study. Sometimes the question is whether I feel I am coming closer to God through the activity. Sometimes the question is whether I am feeling comfort, strength or peace through my involvement in the activity. Sometimes there is a particular goal that I assess whether it is being achieved or not. It all depends on my purpose for attending the activity. If my purpose is being accomplished, I think my involvement is positive and productive. If it is not, then it's time to reconsider my involvement. God certainly also has His own purposes, and there are time when in spite of my own personal goals not being met, I feel like I should continue my involvement. Typically I can tell when I should stay engaged in something by a specific feeling — I wish I could describe it properly — but it's a feeling of needing to still be there, rightness in being there, even though I don't want to be there for my own purposes. Something else I find that helps (as others have suggested here) is to pray. Pray to know whether God has some purpose in your attending Bible study. If He does, surely He will bless you with strength and peace to continue attending. If the answer is it's up to you, then you can stop attending guilt-free. There are other ways to get to know the individual that you'd like to get to know better, and surely you don't need an excuse to let Lauren play with her friend. And either way, your prayers and God's answers to your prayers can only serve to strengthen your relationship with Him and bring you peace. I hope that you'll find answers to your questions about Bible study, and I hope that you'll be strengthened and comforted in your time of grief. My prayers are with you!!

  7. Everyone else has had such amazingly great advice! My only thought for you is that sometimes it IS all about you. If you are not feeling comfortable or at peace with your study then there is a reason. You know you the best.

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