I was so encouraged by Keri Folmar's article this week at The Gospel Coalition, called "7 Mistakes We Make In Women's Bible Study."
One of the first bible studies I attended on a regular basis was an inductive study. The bible was the primary text. Keri talks about that need in the article. I have been to many other kinds of bible studies over the years, including video teaching and topical teaching. I prefer inductive study.
I have taught the Scriptures from an inductive approach and found that if we teach the bible book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, all of the necessary "topics" will come to the surface. At the end of my study on I Thessalonians this past fall, the students and I examined just how many topics came up.
A fellow bible teacher of my acquaintance was asked to help teach a "book" series. She offered to sit and watch the study for a while before committing. She confessed to me a while after that her major concern with this scenario was how quickly the women took the word of the author as more authoritative than the Word itself. The answers to the discussion questions came from the teacher's guide, not the Word of God. She declined to help teach that study.
I often feel like a broken record in my exhortation to study the bible over books. Yes, have book studies; but not in place of the bible. In the class where I teach, that is my goal: to teach the bible. I have done book studies with friends, but my goal in teaching other women is to study the Word of God.
The hunger for the Scriptures must come from the students themselves. If we as bible teachers continue to provide a regular, consistent diet of rich teaching from the Word, showing them how to dig out those truths, then they will begin to hunger for more. It's not an easy job. It requires a lot of study and prayer. It requires that the teacher be a student herself.
I have been told that book studies are helpful for people who don't know how to put together a lesson. Well, if that's the case then why are they teaching? That may sound harsh, but if a woman does not know how to go about it, perhaps she should either learn first or not do it at all. There are any number of bible study guides that a woman can use in place of a topical book. I used Keri's study on Philippians and loved it. I will, no doubt, use her forthcoming study on James. If a woman wants to teach but doesn't know how to go about it, I would suggest she attend a class on how to study the bible. That's where I learned to teach: by studying, learning, and observing. I don't think we can teach unless we are students first.
I love teaching women and I love being taught by women, but if we are going to teach, we need to be willing to work hard. We need to learn more about how to do the work of bible study, possibly even study the original languages if that's available and desired. If we want to lead a study, we must be willing to do the work.
The best way to foster more appetite for bible study is to do the job well. Once the students see the riches in the bible itself, they will only desire more.