What do you do when the Bible becomes old? When your “quiet time” is stuck in a rut? When you look at “Bible study” with skeptical eyes? When the Bible exists in a world separate from the one you’re living? When you wanna love that Book with the golden pages, but you’re not sure how?
Think outside the box – and take your Bible with you!
Below are a few unconventional things I’ve tried (and loved!) to keep myself and others in the Word. Maybe pick one and give it a go??
1. Print your own Bible! This sounds sacrilegious. What I mean is, print a one-sided copy with large print and wide margins, grab some colored pencils, and write down everything your brain thinks. Literally my #1 suggestion that I promise will revolutionize your Bible-discovery world.
2. Limit your resources! Weird advice, I know. But I can’t urge you enough: set all else aside, and study THE BIBLE. You, your brain, your friends, your colored pencils, and your Bible. That is all you need. Challenge yourself and see what happens.
3. Don’t go it alone! I always – always – study the Bible with people. And THAT then forms the content of my personal “quiet time” – those set-apart moments when I sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from him. The one feeds the other: I dig into the Word . . . then share it with others . . . and that sends me running right back for more.
4. Meet a friend for popsicles! I say “popsicles,” because I haven’t figured out how to like coffee, and there’s a precious little popsicle shop down the street. The point is . . . study the Bible with a friend (one-on-one is great!) and have fun in the Word together. I’ve done this many times over and am currently in a six-year (no joke) study of the book of Isaiah with my housemate (3-month sessions of 5-6 chapters, ’cause Isaiah is too much for my brain). We don’t always get popsicles, but we “meet” once a week or so and talk Bible. We create our own pace and study plan and pull from the toolbox of fun activities and discussion starters, and it’s one of our favorite things to do. Literally so flexible and feasible.
5. Revolutionize the small-group model! Small-group Bible studies make people cringe. I know. I’ve cringed many a time. But I firmly believe it doesn’t have to be that way! When Bible studies = fluff, nobody wants to come, and when Bible-study leadership = public speaking and a massive workload, nobody wants to lead. So get rid of both! Create a chill but deep environment where people feel equipped to dig into the Scriptures on their own and comfortable enough to ask dumb questions in community, and voilà! All you gotta do as the leader is name a time and place and keep the discussion happening. So real, folks. So. Real.
6. Stalk your pastor’s sermon series! So, a few years ago, I decided to study the passages for my pastor’s sermon series . . . and stay just about one week ahead of him . . . and it ROCKED MY WORLD. Seriously though, if you have even a vague idea of your pastor’s sermon series schedule, DO IT. You will love your Bible study and love your pastor’s preaching, guaranteed. I did this for two years through the book of Mark with a group of 4-6 ladies from my church, and now my online Bible study is covering Ecclesiastes and I link to my pastor’s current sermon series as the icing on the cake. I’m tellin’ ya. Best thing ever.
7. Take advantage of social media! While I highly recommend prioritizing a regular in-person Bible-study experience first, one way to connect with distant friends and redeem the life-wasting qualities of social media is to launch an online Bible study. Gather up some friends, pick a book/passage, create a Facebook group, post discussion questions, study activities, and assignments, and have at it. I’m currently in the middle of a 24-week study of Ecclesiastes with about 10 Facebook friends (plus a handful of “lurkers”), and it is such a fun time!
8. Initiate a challenge! Create Scripture reading, study, and/or memory challenges – whether with family, friends, or online communities. Challenges invoke accountability, and sometimes that’s just what you need! I host a Memory Challenge every year (one chapter of approx 31 verses for 31 days of January) here on the blog, then create a Facebook group (for those who join the Challenge) where I post reminders, tips, discussion questions, etc. Currently four days in with 20 members. It’s always a highlight of my year!
9. Read – but don’t stop there! I’m not exaggerating when I say – the #1 way to squelch your love of the Bible is to read and move on and read some more. I mean, reading is great, but if you only read, you are SO MISSING OUT. Toss the reading plans aside if need be, but let me urge you to read and soak, and read the same thing again and ask a million questions, and read the same thing again and write stuff down, and read the same thing again and talk about it with people, and read the same thing again and work it from every angle, and follow this pattern for weeks (at the minimum) before moving on. THAT is Bible study, folks, and it will blow. your. mind.
10. Change it up! If sitting in the same place every day to spend time in the Word is getting in your way, go to a new place every time. If you need noise, grab your kids and let them run around the room. If you need silence, go to a cemetery. Can’t wake yourself up? Guzzle caffeine. Don’t have time on a crazy day? Audio Bible. Need music for your workout? Scripture songs. Whatever you’ve always done? Try the opposite. Journal. Create a work of art. Write a song. Record a video. Your goal is to spend time in the Word routinely with as much variety as possible. Find a solid plan that fits you. It is possible.
And friend, I share all of this to illustrate the fact that YOU CAN DO THIS. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, a scholar, or a Bible commentator. Just you and your Bible . . . outside the box.
[photo credit: unsplash.com]