From the Willowbank Report: Consultation on Gospel and Culture, under the heading 'Understanding God's Word Today: The Contextual Approach':
Today's readers cannot come to the text in a personal vacuum, and should not try to. Instead, they should come with an awareness of concerns stemming from their cultural background, personal situation, and responsibility to others. These concerns will influence the questions which are put to the Scriptures. What is received back, however, will not be answers only, but more questions. As we address Scripture, Scripture addresses us. We find that our culturally conditioned presuppositions are being challenged and our questions corrected. In fact, we are compelled to reformulate our previous questions and to ask fresh ones. So the living interaction proceeds.
In this process of interaction our knowledge of God and our response to his will are continuously being deepened. The more we come to know him, the greater our responsibility becomes to obey him in our own situation, and the more we respond obediently, the more he makes himself known.
It is this continuous growth in knowledge, love and obedience which is the purpose and profit of the "contextual" approach. Out of the context in which his word was originally given, we hear God speaking to us in our contemporary context, and we find it a transforming experience. This process is a kind of upward spiral in which Scripture remains always central and normative.
"Ce manuel est un guide efficace pour une bonne préparation à l'étude biblique, à la méditation, à la prédication intégrant les réalitiés culturelles de chaque peuple."
"Orlando Saer's Iron Sharpens Iron may well become the "Bible" for small group studies--as the author's six finely wrought chapters cover virtually everything essential to initiating and maintaining healthy small group Bible studies. There is nothing arm-chair here... Saer writes from ground-level, providing us with hard-won advice that is unexceptionably biblical, intensely practical and ever-so-wise. (from a review by R. Kent Hughes)"
Orlando Saer provides a practical guide for anyone leading or wanting to lead a small Bible-study group. [more...]
"In Latin America the interpretational situation is shaped by the community dimension - so we talk about reading communities. We affirm that the community is the context (literally ‘the lap’) in which the meaning of the text can rest and express its full implications. This is a passionate reading in which people study the text and explore it deeply with body, soul and emotions… ‘Were not our hearts burning within us?’"
Grassroots or ‘Popular Bible Reading’ (PBR) is a space for reflection that takes as its starting point a dialogue between life and the Bible. In this article, Silvia Regina de Lima Silva uses themes from the Emmaus Road story to describe this community-based Bible reading approach which began among the poor and marginalized over thirty years ago. [more...]
This is the Brazilian Portuguese version of the book Translating the Bible into Action by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill.
A tried and tested resource that encourages meaningful Bible use in multi-lingual contexts through both written and oral media. Includes activities, assignments, further reading resources and links to useful websites.
This version has two extra chapters in addition to those found in the English version - "Addressing human concerns: Alcohol abuse", and "Sharing your faith with animists". [more...]
As well as teaching the sorts of questions you should ask, it can also be helpful to highlight the sorts of questions you shouldn’t ask, i.e. what kinds of questions or series of questions can be unhelpful or uninteresting? What kinds of questions should I probably avoid if I want to encourage a good Bible study?
This article sprang from training local church leaders in preparing participatory Bible studies for small groups. It describes 15 types of questions to avoid when developing such studies, including:
- questions that are repetitive or uninteresting;
- questions that deviate significantly from the main point of the passage;
- application questions too soon before participants have had the chance to really look at the text and understand it;
- questions that jump around from one verse to another, without a clear progression towards the application;
- application questions that have little relevance to the lives of the group members.
Our experience with this approach has been uniformly positive. Men who had neglected their Bibles for years found that this was an achievable goal, and rekindled not only the passion of Bible reading (some never lost it), but also the habit of Bible reading. Like all training and study, Bible reading needs habits. We also found that men who were never willing to lead a 'Bible Study' were happy to do their one minute spot.
This article describes the "One Minute Bible Study" - a simple idea that a small group of men can use together.
Before the group meets each time, every group member picks a Bible verse that has been helpful to them. When they get together, they go round the group, each one explaining the verse from their Bible reading. They need to be willing to speak for just one minute about that verse. [more...]
Literacy for Life is all about injecting a good dose of the Bible into a traditional literacy programme... You will need the beginner’s literacy primer. This is the book that is used to teach the letters of the alphabet and the reading of simple phrases in the language. Alongside this, you will need a Scripture Guide book. This is the book put together especially for the Literacy for Life course.
A teachers' guide to running a Literacy for Life course. This is a church-based literacy programme that makes use of existing materials and adds a Scripture guide.
Two types of programme are described: a beginners' course and an advanced course. The advanced course is a form of small-group Bible study. [more...]
The philosophy behind this style of Bible reading is to promote good observation of the text, group participation and self-guided discovery. Each person has the opportunity to discover for themselves what God says. In principle, no-one answers the questions unless they are about something simple, like the meaning of a word. The idea is that the questions motivate investigation on the part of the person who raised them.
This article describes the Swedish Method for studying the Bible. It requires a minimum of resources and preparation, encouraging people to engage with the Scriptures directly.
After reading the passage aloud, the participants of the group go over the passage again, looking out for three things: [more...]
We need to help our students switch their focus from their teachers to the Bible. We want them to be able to say with full confidence, “This is what the Bible teaches.”
How can we do that? It must begin with a major change of emphasis at our schools. We must teach our students how to think and not merely what to think. We must develop students’ confidence and skills to read, interpret, and apply the Bible for themselves.
In this article, Brian Arensen argues for the importance of teaching inductive Bible study methods in African theological colleges. He reports that after teaching and reinforcing inductive Bible study concepts, they have seen a significant difference in the way the students handle the Scriptures: [more...]