Last night we had a home group bible study with the folk who have graduated from Christianity Explored. Here's what we've been studying:
Week 1: Galatians
Week 2: Ephesians
Week 3: Philippians
Week 4: Colossians
Last night was week 5: Romans 1-4 (though we stopped at the end of 3 because everyone was blown away!)
When I tell them that the other home groups study half a chapter at a time they are amazed! "But that's like stopping after three paragraphs of a letter!" they exclaim. That is precisely what it is!
Everyone prints off the chapters for that week and reads them with a pen to hand. They circle things they don't understand and underline things they love so they come to the evening quite well prepared.
In the studies we just read a big chunk and then discuss, read a big chunk then discuss. We've been getting through 4-6 chapters in a night.
Some outside the group have been impressed by it, but also have raised valid concerns:
Question: How long can you keep this up?
Answer: The bible's a big book.
Question: Not many people could lead a study of a whole book of the bible, doesn't this concentrate leadership in the hands of the trained few?
Answer: Actually it puts the bible in the hands of everyone. People have really taken responsibility for trying to get a handle on the passage before the meeting and they've been great at answering each other's questions.
Question: Not many people could field the range of questions that would be generated by study of a whole book. Leaders might be caught out by the number of different topics that could arise in any given week.
Answer: Schedule in some weeks every now and again where you tackle the most recurring topics from the last couple of months.
Question: Won't this mean you miss nuances and details?
Answer: Maybe. But you'll be revisiting the same material a lot more often too.
Anyway, I commend it to you. Not least because last night was devastating. We began in chapter 15 to get some context and then moved through Romans 1 to 3 the way it was intended. It crushed us to dust and then lifted us up in Christ. I can't now imagine spacing that out over three weeks!
My advice: move away from the morsels. Get stuck in!