“Hey Mom, when are we going to meet to discuss our Colossians study again?”
The intensity of our schedules had recently experienced an uptick of activity.
Kids sports, homework, and out-of-town company, had made our family’s weekly devotional time an exception rather than the rule.
However, when my 17-year-old son asked me this question I inwardly rejoiced that he had noticed, and wanted us to pick it back up.
Is there anything better thing than seeing your kids enjoy studying the Word of God?
Learning by Doing
I struggled for too many years to enjoy Bible study.
I lacked confidence to dig in and do it on my own.
I relied on purchasing a book, doing Bible study at church, or listening to sermons online.
So when I learned the Inductive Bible Study Method, it freed me to enjoy my own personal quiet time, for the first time in well…forever.
It was then that I decided to teach this method to my kids.
If I could shave off 30 years of struggle for them to enjoy study (like it took me), isn’t that reason enough?
I love a good system, and where I once didn’t have one, the Inductive Bible Study Method filled in the gaps for me.
Even though it’s a challenge in this season of our lives to get everyone together, we set out to redeem one night a week to study the Word together.
I hope by the end of this post, you’ll also feel encouraged and equipped to implement a Bible study time with your family.
What is the Inductive Study Approach?
Simply put, Inductive Study consists of three main parts.
- Observation: What does the text say?
- Interpretation: What does it mean, by what it says?
- Application: How does this apply to me?
You probably approach learning most things this way already.
If you want to bake a cake, first read the recipe, and make sure you have all the necessary supplies (observation). Then you follow the recipe and bake your cake (interpretation). When you’re finished baking, you eat it and decide how you could improve it next time (application).
We naturally do this everyday as we break down the steps to accomplish a project, learn a new skill, or read something new.
I’m getting nerdy about this, but consider how the Inductive method also aligns with the progression of a classical pedagogy of learning.
In classical education, we progress through grammar, logic, rhetoric.
In biblical terms, we call it knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6
The difference between applying this approach to studying the Bible vs. learning any other skill, is the promise of blessing that comes from applying our hearts to understand God’s word.
It’s like digging for hidden treasure, and finding it!
I’ll take that return on investment everyday!
So how do you do it?
Keep in mind that we naturally observe, interpret, and apply, often simultaneously. So these aren’t hard and fast rules that always neatly follow this precise order.
But there are certain things to look for, and to do, in order to get the most out of your Bible study.
Before starting, begin in prayer, asking God for his help to add wisdom and understanding, to your knowledge.
STEP 1: OBSERVATION (What does it say?)
This is the 15,000 foot overview of your study.
You want to understand the flow of the text, setting, characters, theme, keywords, and themes.
- Read and re-read the book to be studied several times before you mark anything
- Identify the type of literature you’re reading (history, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, epistles, and apocalyptic)
- As you continue reading, try to answer the 5 W’s and an 1 H questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how?)
- To learn context, begin by identifying the facts about people and events mentioned
- Read and re-read until you discover keywords and phrases that are repeated
- Make a list of those keywords and phrases, and assign a symbol or marking for them
- Write down a summary of the main theme of the book, chapter, or passage
- Read chapter headings to help you find sub-themes within the main theme
STEP 2: INTERPRETATION (What does it mean by what it says?)
We’re dropping our altitude to about 5,000 feet now.
Now you’re reading for understanding.
- Review big picture context clues you’ve already found
- Mark keywords and key phrases in your journal
- Make lists from the Keywords (i.e. What things does Paul pray for the Colossians in chapter 1?)
- God reveals truths in many ways. Reread the text and look for the following:
- Comparisons (look for words like: but, however, nevertheless)
- Terms of conclusion (look for words like: therefore, finally, for this reason)
- Expressions of time
- What was the chapter theme? Write a statement.
- What was the paragraph theme? Write a statement.
APPLICATION (How does this apply to me?)
We’ve landed, and we’re at street level.
Now we personalize and internalize what we’ve read.
- “How does the meaning of this passage apply to me?”
- “What truths do I need to embrace, believe, live by?”
- “What changes should I make in my belief, in my life?”
Kay Arthur explains, “The Inductive Study doesn’t tell you what the Bible means, or what you should believe. Instead, it teaches you a method of studying God’s Word that can be applied to any portion of scripture at any time for the rest of your life.”Arthur, Kay, et al. How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word. Harvest House Publishers, 2013.
Did you get that last part?
When you learn this method, you can apply it to any portion of scripture, at any time, for the rest of your life.
The goal isn’t to store up more head knowledge, but ultimately, to be transformed by it.
How to Implement an Inductive Study into Your Family Time
Here’s your opportunity to go from Observation to Interpretation and Application for yourself.
I’ve created a free 7-Day Colossians Inductive Bible Study for you to do either for yourself, or with your kids.
It’s designed to walk you through the actual process of an Inductive Study.
You’ll observe, interpret, and apply for yourself, as you discover how Inductive study works, and how it will equip you for future study and discovery.
Plus…Colossians is a glorious letter of the supremacy of Jesus as the center of all reality. (A wonderful truth to instill into any heart, at any age!)
Together, you’ll dig for diamonds, and find them.
This is redeemed family time at it’s finest!
to enjoying him forever,
P.S. If you’ve found this tool helpful, I’d love to feature your review on my site. Just email me at email@example.com to share your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.
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