I recently read a book sent to me concerning “Women’s Ministries”. Now…I find myself appalled by most books written on this subject. They are usually steeped in the world’s ideas and have very little to say about God’s ideas. But this one caught my attention in the first line, “The subject of this book is not women; it is the Church of the Lord Jesus.” Good start!! While the book was heavily steeped in the particular denominational beliefs of the authors, overall I found it to be quite encouraging.
But when I leafed through the Appendix, what did I find but the same old, same old. Buy our material, read our booklist. An article entitled, “How to Evaluate Bible Study Materials”. How about studying THE BIBLE instead of “materials” about the Bible? And this line KILLED me, “You are not to teach a lesson. You are to facilitate a discussion based on an assigned chapter of the book (i.e. the material you buy from them).”
We just finished our Ladies’ Study on “Philippians”. We didn’t skip ahead and spend all of our time on the application. We didn’t read a verse here and there out of context. We didn’t read what OTHER people thought the book said. We read the Bible, in context, the book as a whole, repetitively. We did analytical charts, we did Word Studies, we found the themes in the book, we divided up each chapter into subject groups and titled them, we outlined the entire Epistle and paid attention to how Paul developed his ideas. We looked up cultural practices, enlightening a few areas for us. We read companion passages in “Acts” concerning Paul’s establishment of the church at Philippi and his subsequent relationship with them. We studied the history of the city of Philippi and the Roman Empire as it applied to what we were studying. We found out more about the people and places mentioned within the Epistle. We looked at the ruins of the city as they appear today, learning a little archaeology on the side. [you KNOW I had to fit that in somehow! ;)]
We studied the Word!! Why are Christians so anxious to “study” the Bible ANY possible way, EXCEPT…to study…the…Bible?! And what was the result of all this effort? Amazing!! Week after week I saw “light bulbs” pop on as they really began to understand what the text was saying and what the implications were! I saw women CONVICTED by God’s Word. I saw women who were EXCITED about studying God’s Word. [One of my favorite moments was when Jen ran up to me one week after the Sunday AM sermon, her Bible open, and asked, “Is this a Granville-Sharp construction?” and wanted to discuss the implications!] She was getting MORE understanding out of what was being preached because of her own practice studying God’s Word…FROM God’s Word!! THAT is exciting stuff, people!
I tell you…there’s just no other way to go! Why are so many Bible teachers so intent on keeping people AWAY from their Bibles? Why do we want to focus so exclusively on the “doing” that we completely miss the power BEHIND the “doing”? The Word changes your heart and mind as you immerse yourself in it, and THEN…the “doing” becomes the fruit that emerges!