I’m a sucker for good content wrapped in stellar design. So, when a publisher like Logos takes an interest (Bible study) and wraps it in a magazine with great typography, apt use of white space, and plenty of well-made charts, I have a hard time setting it aside. The magazine passes what I call the ‘six foot test’ — from six feet away do you want to move closer and read it? Yep. Things like that don’t get thrown away; they have some alluring quality making you want to hold onto them.
Bible Study Magazine is a great monthly read. And it’s not just for Bible nerds. Anyone from a novice to the curious to theo-dorks and everyone in between would benefit from BSM.
Their May/June 2011 issue has a special section “9 Ideas for Better Bible Study.” One of the nine is #2: Breaking Down Your Bible Study Type. An intro from author and BSM associate editor Rebecca Kruyswijk:
What’s your Bible study “type”? Are you the newbie or the planner? The nonconformist or the extrovert extreme? We don’t like to think we fit into categories, but we certainly need to examine the habits that keep us from interacting with the Bible.
Recognizing who we are, and how we’re wired, will help us launch into meaningful and life-transforming devotions before God. Kruyswijk gives five categories or labels for people who seek to study the Bible:
- The Newbie. You’re new to the Bible, and its scope seems debilitating. You become discouraged with your Bible study plan when you hit the blood sacrifices and the genealogies.
- ➭ Try this: Instead of working through biblical books in order, opt to read the books and stories you’re familiar with. Then venture out and make connections.
- The Perpetual Planner. You’re organized and resourceful. You get a special thrill from crossing off your daily Scripture readings. It’s difficult to imagine deterring from your one-year plan — or anyone else deterring from theirs. You have a problem, though: Your Bible reading has become another item on your task list. It has lost its place of priority, and you’re neither hot nor cold about it.
- ➭ Try this: Considering other ways of engaging the material. Reading the text aloud is one way to experience the Word as it was originally meant to be heard. Let it resonate with you. Be open to the Spirit working in you as you read.
- The Nonconformist. You don’t like feeling tied down. You feel claustrophobic when you look at plans. You need a way to be consistent, buy you also need to keep your Bible study time from becoming monotonous.
- ➭Try this: Shake up your daily routine. Read an entire book in one session. Other days, try mulling over several verses. Whatever method you employ, make sure your engagement is ongoing and intentional.
- The Extreme Extrovert. You thrive in your small group, but you find it hard to sit down for devotional study time. Distractions are everywhere, and if they aren’t, you create them.
- ➭ Try this: Close the door, log out and open the Bible. Silent, devotional study spent meditating on God’s Word is necessary for our spiritual growth.
- The Ascetic. There is a time to keep silent, and then there is a time to speak. But you aren’t invigorated by group settings and would rather not. You prefer quiet meditation over study the Bible with others. Or maybe you feel like you have nothing to add to the discussion
- ➭ Try this: Go to small group and church gatherings anyway. Community is where we find encouragement: “Therefore encourage one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11). In community, not just at large public gatherings, are we challenged to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).
As you may notice, each of these labels is followed by a suggestion — a ‘try this’ practice (many of which I edited slightly) — such as the one recommended for the Newbie: start with what you know and make connections. I would add: find someone a bit further than you, but who doesn’t pretend to be a know-it-all, who can be a resource. A key feature is that this person should be one who points you back to the text, and to Jesus, not to himself or herself. (That’s rare.)
Note: in a word to the “Extreme Extrovert,” Kruyswijk reflects, “We often think of Jesus’ instruction not to pray in public as a warning against hypocrisy. But He’s also talking about reducing distractions: ‘Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you’ (Matt. 6:6).” Being deliberate and intentional in our time with God will produce a gratitude and humility of soul where we realize we just cannot get enough of Him. And that He is getting more of us.
Which of these five are you most like? (Confession: I am part Ascetic and part Non-conformist.)
Are their others? I think so. More on those tomorrow.