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Ways To Make Your Bible Study More Engaging

Ways To Make Your Bible Study More Engaging

On the serious and heavy topic of Bible study, let's first lightly consider another pair of words that begin with the letters 'B' and 'S': Brussels sprouts.

It's not inaccurate to say that Brussels sprouts have developed a bit of a bad reputation. We all know that “eat your vegetables” has become an idiom for doing something you don't want to do but must be compelled to do for your own good, but Brussels sprouts in particular have become a byword for a healthy yet dreadful ordeal. When you're eating these, you're really eating your vegetables.

This is unfair to the poor and beleaguered Brussels sprout. In the wrong hands, yes, they can be downright repulsive, but unfortunately, in the wrong hands, so can any food. But with creativity, a little work, and an earnest desire to make them shine, they can be positively delicious. So it is with Bible study. Too many teachers and parents have made Brussels sprouts out of Bible study: they've taken something that could easily be engaging, rewarding, and redeeming, and made it into a lump on the dinner plate that unwilling eaters—or readers—can only hope to survive.

But with age comes wisdom, and the realization that only the best intentions ever lay behind such an assignment. It just turns out that there's much more to reading the Bible than perfunctorily skimming books out of childhood obligation or memorizing chapters and verses. You can approach Scripture with the appropriate dedication and critical thinking with these ways to make your Bible study more engaging. For a delicious Brussels sprout recipe, however, you will have to look elsewhere.

Take Notes

As technology has advanced, we don't take notes like we used to. Sure, we can keep notes on our smartphones and tablets, but when it comes to committing reading material to memory, there's no substitute for longhand annotations. Writing words down helps you remember material. In fact, the novelty of taking notes by hand in a digital era could make your notes even more memorable—they'll stand out in your mind against all the other swipes and keystrokes in a day's work and play.

Ask questions of what you read: ask why, and ask how it relates to your life. Underline key phrases, or even simply beautiful turns of phrase. If you're worried about losing your notes, consider a wide-margin KJV Bible that will allow you to fit your annotations right on the page without compromising the readability of the text. So, grab a pencil and paper and take good notes on your reading material. This isn't just good advice for Bible study—it'll help you with any book you read, fiction or nonfiction, religious or secular.

The Adler Method

In 1940, philosopher and professor Mortimer Adler wrote a book with a title that at first glance borders on the preposterous: How To Read a Book . After all, if you're literate enough to recognize the title, what further instruction could you need in how to read a book? But Adler's treatise is not as simple as its title many indicate. The author believes that most readers do not learn to read critically, and must teach themselves how to do so.

Adler divides reading experiences into four tiers: elementary, inspectional, analytical, and syntopical. It wouldn't surprise you to learn that most everyday reading is elementary. Inspectional reading calls for a thoughtful allocation of limited time to skim some parts and concentrate on others. The third level, analytical reading, is when readers begin to ask questions of the text and explore what the author hoped to teach, solve, or explore in writing. This is what good Bible reading should do: lift the words off the page, and ask “what are the lessons I'm meant to learn from this, and why?” Syntopical reading is the most difficult level of reading, but, as you would expect, the most rewarding for a reader. This is when the reader delves deeper into a selection by going beyond a single book and pursuing books on the same topic. In the case of the Bible, that can mean supplementing Bible study with the works of theologians, and considering their arguments and commentary. It can involve learning about the history of the Middle East outside a Biblical context.

Can you apply these principles to a book as voluminous as the King James Bible? As a matter of fact, there may be no better place to start. Adler pioneered the concept of the Great Books, an attempt to compile and define the Western canon for a mass audience. Conspicuous in its absence within the estimable 54-volume set of Great Books is the King James Bible, but not because it was undeserving of such a position—rather, Adler presumed that while most households had yet to stock their personal libraries with many of the classics of Western literature, they already had a copy of the Bible. And with all due respect to the Greek and Latin classics that preceded it, no Western canon can be considered complete without the KJV.

Read Other Books

Some people swear they can only read one book at a time. It usually rests upon the nightstand, and then, when it's finished, returns to the shelf as a new book takes its place. Building on the topic of syntopical reading a bit, you mustn't live under the one-book rule when it comes to reading and studying the King James Bible. You should always have concurrent reading material as well. Not only does this keep you from burning out on Bible study, but it also helps you consider your Bible study better by applying your studies to other reading. Take the lessons of the Bible and keep them in mind as you measure them against the actions and motivations of characters in modern novels. Look for familiar phrases that originated in the King James Version and understand how the KJV has informed the English language to this day. Keep an eye peeled for Biblical allusions.

Read With Friends

We paint pictures in our minds of devoted religious scholars, alone with their texts, mulling over the serious questions religious scriptures who pose in quiet solitude; this needn't be you. Form a Bible study group with whom you can discuss passages and share what you've learned, or how you've applied the lessons you've learned in everyday life, and learn how your peers have done the same. One of the biggest drawbacks to Bible study can be that it's often a pair of monologues: the teacher teaches, the student recites. As an adult, Bible study should be a dialogue. Better yet, it can be a conversation among multiple friends.

Closing Notes

If you've made it to the KJV Store, you most likely have an interest in not only studying the Bible but also in doing so with the finest edition of the King James Version on the market. This is admirable, but remember that there's more to Bible study than the Bible itself. Let a fine King James Bible be not the final word, but the opening remarks in a new and modern course of Bible study, with a variety of ways to make your Bible study more engaging through friendship, diligence, and a commitment to both breadth and depth. Bible study doesn't have to be “eating your vegetables” anymore: make it an elegant seven-course meal of the mind.

Ways To Make Your Bible Study More Engaging

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1