Candid Chatter

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Bible Study is Selfish Too October 26, 2009

Filed under: Life... The Way I See It — candidchatter @ 2:08 pm
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I just thought of this the other day… during Bible study. Imagine that.

I host a women’s Bible study group once a week. I have been doing this since the summer. I decided since I cannot join the church Bible studies because of my tied down Mommy status that I would bring Bible study to me. I host, and the women bring their young children and we talk about ourselves. I mean… God. We talk about God.

No. We talk about ourselves. A lot. And, how God has helped ourselves. And, how we are improving and how this Bible study has been so great for us. Us.

Me. Myself. I. Me. Me. Me. I. I. I.

home-bible-study-2

I love Bible study. I love it!! I love being with women who believe the way I do. I love being with women who are raising their kids the way I am. I love that I can speak freely about all things Christian without having to explain what I mean. I love the uniqueness of our relationships. Our bonds are family knit and tight.

Our lives are woven and spun together like a spider’s web. Each strand intertwining with another and every one important and unique.

We are family. His. We belong together. We’ll be together forever. This life is only temporary. When you live like that, and have friends who live like that, the relationships are so much deeper and better than anything temporal. Our friendships are not seasonal. They are eternal.

Sisters.

However, Bible study feeds ourself. Flesh. We use it to stay in the Word because our busy lives just tear us away too often so if we join a Bible study then we are forcing ourselves to do the homework which has us searching the Bible to answer the questions. Then we get together over coffee and sometimes snacks to chit-chat about what we discovered about ourselves and our struggles; what God has revealed about us.

The study lasts a few weeks and then we take a break. The cycle continues the next time studies are offered. We scan the list of what is offered, decide if our schedules allow for one, pay our dues, and show up once a week like we did the last time around. Feeding ourselves all the soul food we can munch on.

Quail.

I am not demeaning the Word of God. It is soul food.

But, what does Bible study really do? I mean for the bigger picture. The Kingdom!!!

Year after year women and men join Bible studies. They feel better about themselves and like they get an A+ from God and then what?

What difference is Bible study making for the Kingdom? What changes are being made because of these so-called well equiped Christians who had such a remarkable Bible study that they sell everything they own and move to Asia to save the poor people sold in human trafficking. Or forgo their normal holiday expenses to give it all to feed the poor. Or who don’t sit around stuffing themselves till they are sick and need a nap on Thanksgiving, but cook for and serve the poor woman whose husband can’t work and whose children are hungry.

Bible study is selfish.

Argue with me. Tell me that thousands of Christians are leaving Bible studies well equiped and making monumental differences for the Kingdom.

Do it.

Or, is your observation the same? We are getting fat on our soul food and we aren’t sharing. And I think for all the potential Bible study has for Christians, it is failing to motivate us to look any further than our own inward selves.

I like Bible study. I really do. It helps me feel like I’m doing something, when I’m really not doing much of anything. But, it serves that self-righteous ego of mine and my ego likes that.

Yes, I learn a lot at Bible study. But, most of what I learn isn’t about God… it’s about me.

And all these people writing Bible studies… all these Super Christians… what do they get out of it?
A book deal.
An audience.
Applause.
Dare I say it?
A paycheck!

What would Jesus say about our modern-day American Bible studies?

*NOTE*: I feel I should put this on here so there is no misunderstanding… I do not mean studying the Bible straight from the Bible. I mean a Bible study done from a workbook written by an author based on the Bible. Studying your Bible is very useful for many reasons. Thank you.

What do you say?

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16 Responses to “Bible Study is Selfish Too”

  1. bub66ohm Says:

    Geez Heidi, it’s so awesome watching God work in you. You asked so many great questions that I think we all need to ask ourselves.

    We started a bible study at Adams Avenue Crossing a few weeks back. I suggested it because to be honest with ya, my knowledge of the bible is not so great. I read it every day but I think it’s good to get other perspectives.

    We don’t use any fancy writers or outlines or best sellers to do our Bible study with. Just 5 or 6 people with a heart for Jesus reading the Good News. Our only rule is that we stick with one Gospel for the quarter, with this quarter being John.

    I’m getting so much out of it, I really am. I think that what you get out of it is what you are putting in or looking for. I mean as far as it being an inward or outward thing. Of course, the group I’m with is kindof an outward facing ministry so that’s probably why we tend not to ask questions of how this relates to our individual lives but to how God wants us to look at the world.

    Are we heading to Africa to feed the hungry? No, but we try to feed the hungry and serve the marginalized. Why? Because that’s what we are reading and talking about in our study.

    One thing I can tell is that you are reading your Bible. How can I tell? Because the things you are writing and talking about are only things you could have gotten from reading the Word and not being force fed all the things that us as American born Evangelical Christians are given. I feel truly blessed to watch you in your journey with Christ. God bless ya, you rock!

  2. candidchatter Says:

    Thanks Bub. May I come to your Bible study? The one I did over the summer we did like you are doing yours. We picked straight from the Bible, made up our own questions, and then discussed the heck out of that chapter. What we ended up doing (what God truly did in us) was study The Sermon on the Mount. It was awesome!!! πŸ™‚ I loved it and I will do it again. I love the group in my Bible study. I am not a huge fan of the study. I am trying to get something BIG out of it and keep coming up with little newbie Christian stuff. Great for the new Christian. I mean, really great for them. But, I keep saying “it’s so juicy” when I am not really telling the truth. I am trying to find “juice”, but it falls short. It is fun though. Next time I host a Bible study, though, it will be more like yours. I think that is what Jesus would prefer. Thanks for the compliments and encouragement. I really needed to read that. You blessed me. May God bless your socks off, my friend. πŸ™‚

  3. candidchatter Says:

    If you are in my Bible study and you read this, please understand that I am not mad, angry, upset, or any of those negative things. I love ALL of my Bible study friends. It’s the STUDY that isn’t jiving with me. And not just OUR study. ALL studies that force the person taking it to inwardly focus. Maybe this study has been amazing for you. I hope so. But, for me, it’s been like learning my ABC’s all over again. Too basic and not really that meaty. Not really enough of learning about GOD and more about learning about ME.

    I would rather read God’s Word straight up like our Pastor teaches at church. Meaty. God centered and focused. Remove me and bring Him and only Him.

    πŸ™‚

  4. Ivan Says:

    Isn’t Bible study a form of worship? If so it’s interesting that you think worship is selfish: you enjoy it so much; you get so much out of it. I enjoy it too (prayer too).

    As for changing the world, I want to say, “Martha, Martha, …”

  5. candidchatter Says:

    Ivan: I guess I took the chance of being misunderstood. I don’t mean studying your Bible. I mean a leader led Bible study workbook that talks about stuff and then leads you through a series of questions based on the study an author put together based on the Bible. It’s not the same as studying your Bible. I love the Word of God and studying your Bible can be very worship-ful. Sorry to confuse you! πŸ™‚

  6. Ivan Says:

    My apologies.

  7. Angie Says:

    Heidi, I so feel you. I find the “buy the book” studies are MUCH less appealing than studies on books of the Bible or even a topical study (such as anger, pride, jealousy, etc.) where you spend time searching the Scriptures for what God has to say on the topic.

    One interesting point to me is that it seems like your Bible study group changes routinely. Have you ever thought about finding a group of women to stay with consistently, doing life with on a week-in, week-out basis? Our church body moved to that model a few years back and it’s been amazing to see the transformation in people. Instead of jumping from group to group as topics changed, we’ve invested in each other and lo and behold, we’ve started doing local and global ministry together. Who better to hop on a plane (or drive down the street) with to minister to “the least of these?”

    I do think it’s a positive sign that you obviously want more meat. I think the more time you spend in God’s Word, the more time you WANT to spend in God’s Word. All that aside, I so appreciate your willingness to be so open and honest with your feelings. Your blog posts often make me stop and think.

  8. candidchatter Says:

    Hi Angie. Thanks for commenting!

    I do fellowship with many different women within my Christian circle and I am building lifelong friendships with them.

    The Bible studies at our church are many and vary on diff subjects and so on. Some are focused on a topic, some are focused on books of the Bible. Unfortunately, I cannot just go to whatever study I want to go to because the times are not convenient for me and my family and sometimes child care is not always available.

    It was my idea to try hosting a Bible study over the summer. It went fantastic. However, it was not sponsored by my church. I invited my friends and we tore up a few chapters of the Bible which ended up being the entire Sermon on the Mount. It was amazing!!

    So, I offered to host a Bible study through my church. Because of my time constraints, the fact that it is in my house and there are kids running amok, and so on, it had to be a certain type of study (no video, small talk, able to withstand interruptions from the kids, etc). I love the ladies it has brought into my home on a weekly basis. But… the study itself is lacking IMHO. 😦 So be it.

    Now I know if I have the time to host another Bible study, I will go back to what I did over the summer and do a straight from the Bible, no workbook or best seller or whatever book. I got so much more out of studying the Word of God (not someone’s interpretation of it) than anything else I have been involved in. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, thanks again for the comment and encouragement. It sure helps knowing there are women out there who feel as I do. This was a tough post to click “submit” on. I was nervous about what the possible misunderstandings would be.

    Heidi

  9. Greg Says:

    Great site. I really like reading other Christian web sites – they give me a lot to think about.

    Your site is very nicely done – well laid-out and easy on the eyes. Thank you for having this site. The internet can be a wonderful resource for Christians.

    God’s Peace,
    Greg

  10. bible study Says:

    i think your way is correct.
    god works greatly in everyone .everybody are the expressions of god .

  11. Tab Says:

    IMHO, bible study IS the church. True church. Real fellowship, prayer, a message straight from God’s word. It is even more the church when you study publicly and invite friends who may not otherwise ever hear God’s word.

    I love bible study. It goes so much deeper than a Sunday message. Bible study is the real deal. I think if we were to integrate more action into our bible study it wouldn’t be selfish at all. If we were to actually use the bible study to fulfill the great commission.

    However, actual bible study (not from another book beside the bible, yeah, I’ve been there, too.) is also there for new Christians, so that they can grow enough that they are also able to fulfill the great commission.

    I DO hear what you are saying. I’m convicted too. I may even make an excuse like I can’t speak well publicly (like Aaron). er, uh, um, duh hehe. God WILL give me the strength to witness when the situation arises.

    Many of us have grown lazy and end it at church and/or bible study. It’s easy to lose focus and turn it into a party. In fact I was reading Revelations the other day and Rev chapter 2 and 3 touches on a lot of what you are saying.

    Who of us are actually witnessing by action and in deed? Even small kindness to our neighbor, even as small as wearing a Christian t-shirt, which was a thing we did in the 90s and hardly do at all today? Yeah, I suck too.

    Rev. 2 and 3

    The loveless church. The persecuted church. The compromising church. The corrupt church. The dead church. The faithful church. The lukewarm church.

  12. Tab Says:

    Oops, I re-read what your saying. Not into those types of bible studies. However, I did meet my hubby at one of those based-on-bible studies, so I should probably quit bashing them now. πŸ™‚

  13. Cameyg Says:

    Heidi: This is so good! As one who has written Bible studies numerous times & taught/facilitated some of the best known ones too – I love just studying the Bible much more! In fact, that’s one of my key points with this new women’s ministry that we’ve just started here. We’ll be studying James next. One gal asked me about where to buy the book & etc. I asked her, “Are you saying you don’t have a Bible yet?” She looked at me all confused. I then explained that the book necessary for this Bible study will actually just be the Bible. But how can it “just” be the Bible? If it weren’t for “The Bible” – all the Bible studies out there wouldn’t mean a hill of beans. They wouldn’t have God’s truth to be based on.

    Okay… I’m rambling! So exciting seeing all your learning & how you’re growing these days! And thanks – sister – for allowing me the privilege of walking life’s moments with you!

    Much love!!!

  14. Bo Says:

    Hi there, I just happened to stumble upon this posting and found it to be interesting. I didn’t think I was going to agree with you but I actually do see where you are coming from. Though I will say, I find bible studies to be different all across the board but all in all you should walk away from them with a better knowledge of The Word and God’s empowerment. I also think that as time progresses within in the bible study we do start to socialize and vent and feed off of eachothers curiosity and enlightenment and that’s ok. But I think I see your point and in that case I’d say that perhaps more bible studies should allow for a time of fellowship with group prayer and a time to express how God has uplifted you or how you’ve uplifted the kingdom and then once that time is done you dive into the nitty gritty and get full off of the Word.

    At my church our bible study seems to be a lot more like a service- I used to not like that. I’m starting to appreciate it more however. It’s full of scripture and tackling different subjects but there aren’t many questions posed. I would actually like to start a study of my own at some point.

  15. Laura Wrede Says:

    I would like to invite you to share your thoughts with me as a Christian woman. I am also seeking to feature Christian women authors if you have any recommendations
    http://www.examiner.com/x-35833-Womens-Ministry-Examiner~y2010m1d13-Women-and-loveLove-says-I-never-have-to-say-I-am-sorry

    Laura Wrede
    National Women’s Ministry Writer for Examiner.com

  16. candidchatter Says:

    Laura: I would be honored. I will send you an e-mail shortly. Thank you for visiting my blog.

    Heidi


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