One of the best moves I made in the past few years was jumping into a men's Bible study with a bunch of pretty rowdy, alpha males. All of us were at different places in our walk with Jesus. Between September and December, we worked verse by verse through the book of James using the Inductive Bible Study (IBS) method. The group was led by a man that has been a friend and mentor to me for nearly twenty years.
The IBS method is a great way to study the Bible whether in a group or on your own. It's not totally academic, but it can be. No matter what your level of Bible comprehension is, you pull nuggets of principles and truth from the text that you can immediately apply to your life. In fact, finding a way to apply what you read in the Bible is the purpose of the IBS method.
Here's how it works in five steps:
- Pick a book.
- Determine to read and study through the book chapter by chapter beginning with the first chapter.
- Read a chapter then go back and start working through each paragraph.
- Observe the paragraph. List your observations. If it helps, list your observations verse by verse.
- Interpret your observations in context of the paragraph.
- Apply it. If there is a way to apply what you've observed and interpreted to your life, write it down. Then do it. I list them as "action items."
As we studied through James in our group, I did my best to work ahead and study at home every week. But, admittedly, sometimes I jumped in and read the assigned text just a day or even a few hours before the meeting. I found that what I put into it is what I got out of it.
Without fail when we as a group started discussing the scriptures and tossing out observations, all kinds of concepts and issues burst to the surface. Every session got super rowdy. It was awesome. Sometimes five guys were talking at once, each one louder than the other. The chaos was a thing of beauty. The Holy Spirit always spoke to my heart through the grid of the scriptures and the banter of the guys as they honestly grappled with the weighty concepts found in the book of James.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to pull what I learned while working with this group. I've read the Book of James at least twenty times on my own, but I think I learned more in the non-academeic chaos of this group than I ever did before. My next few posts will be my attempt to recapture and process that energy for my own edification.
Feel free to drop in to see if there's anything there for you to gleen.