The director of Little Rock Scripture Study reflects on the benefits of group Bible study
The Bible is a single book that gives us instant access to an entire library. Inside of that vast library, we can wander long hallways and peruse books of every type — from history to “how-to” to humor. We can engage in great adventures and travel to the other side of the world, to the cosmos and the highest heavens, and even — if we dare — into the deepest recesses of the human heart. Here is a single book that sweeps across centuries, genres, seas and lands, and the human experience of the divine. There is more here than a lifetime can consume!
This variety and richness are what make the Bible so intriguing — and so intimidating. Catholics are not alone in feeling drawn to Scripture with an undeniable magnetism, while also feeling overwhelmed by the thought of engaging with this hefty, ancient text. We long to hear God’s voice speaking clearly in our lives — but where do we begin? How do we listen and understand?
Start with a small group
One simple way to start is by studying the Bible together in small groups. God’s Word may certainly be read by individuals, but it is a Word that is given to a community: the people of God. It is best read in the context of the Church. It is meant to permeate the entire Body of Christ, to be savored and treasured together.
Think of Scripture as a prism that captures God’s light and refracts it in all directions. Each one of us sees and absorbs this beautiful light a little bit differently, depending on where we stand, where our lives have taken us, and our capacity for absorbing or refracting this light. Our understanding of God’s Word is enriched by sharing our insights, experiences, and questions with others — and by hearing their ideas, even if they are different than our own. This group study experience — this group sharing — stretches us in a good way. We have a larger, wider view. It is deeper and richer.
A community centered around the Word
There are some good practical reasons for group Bible study, too. Having a weekly meeting gives structure and momentum to our study. We are motivated to read and engage with the text so we will be ready to discuss it with our friends or fellow parishioners. We look forward to our weekly meeting where we pray, learn, and share our lives together in the safety and warmth of God’s Word.
At Little Rock Scripture Study, we’ve been helping Catholics study the Bible for almost 50 years! We’re aware of busy schedules and parish budgets, so our new studies feature shorter time commitments and free online video lectures (see our New Editions). We even have three-session studies for new groups or especially busy folks (Alive in the Word). We’re always happy to help parish Bible study groups or individuals choose a good study and learn how to use it. And remember, you can start a Bible study with just a small group of parishioners or friends. For where two or three are gathered in his name, there is Christ, the wisdom of God, in their midst (see Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 1:24).
AMY EKEH is the director of Little Rock Scripture Study, a series of Bible study resources. Learn more at LittleRockScripture.org. You can also find her as an instructor in the Hartford Catholic Biblical School and at AmyEkeh.com. Read her “Bible in 5” column at CatholicDigest.com.
PHOTO: FREEDOM STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK
This article was originally published in Catechist, March 2020.