Teaching Women to READ the Bible

As our Bible study session wrapped up in the spring of 2016 I began to wrestle with God about my personal Bible study time.

I came face to face with the fact that I spent more time reading Bible study books than the actual Bible itself.

My feelings resonated with many of you as the comments rolled in on my post about Why I’m Tired of Bible Study Books.

God used all of that to stir up a desire in me to learn to study His Word on my own.

I was initially intimidated. I don’t have a seminary degree, nor have I taken any formal classes on how to read or teach the Bible. I felt completely unqualified and I had a list of excuses as to why this was not a good idea and not going to work. Yet in my heart I knew I could not go back this fall to doing just another Bible study book.

God placed many resources in my hands which I spent the summer studying. I thought I’d have a relaxing summer with our boys, taking them to the pool, reading some light Christian fiction books… Admittedly I got to do some of that, but God had work for me to do!

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I read thru Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word, Melissa Deming’s Sweeter than Honey, and Francis Chan’s Multiply:Disciples Making Disciples. I pulled from my experiences with Bible Study Fellowship and homiletics. I reviewed several study methods including “SOAP” and the 5 P’s.

I gathered and gleaned. As I read through each one a clear pattern of studying scripture emerged. They all began by asking the basic “W” questions, encouraged outlining and identifying main themes, digging deeper using other translations and commentaries, reflecting on what the Word reveals about God, and applying scripture to my own life. Observation, interpretation, and application.

By the end of the summer the gathering and gleaning God led me thru resulted in a Bible study method called READ.

Desiring nothing more than to be obedient I dared to share the rough draft with our Bible Study Coordinator. But only God. He had planted the desire for a scripture based, inductive-type Bible study on the hearts of team members almost 2 years prior. I was completely humbled that He was using me to help bring that prayer to fruition.

I continued praying and tweaking the READ worksheet and materials and prepared mini-coaching lessons to help our group understand the “why” behind the questions and tasks they were given on their worksheets. It was decided that we would just offer READ – no other Bible study books for now – and we’d walk with our women through 1st and 2nd Timothy that fall.

We had a larger than normal turnout for our study and noticed that it pulled in many women who had not come before or had been MIA. I’ll admit, many of our women weren’t sure they would like it. But within a couple of weeks it started to click. They found the rhythm of the study and grew in their confidence to dig into the scriptures.

God was speaking to our women through His Word and they were actively seeking and hearing from Him! They were growing more confident in talking with other people about His Word!

This is what our schedule looked like:

9:30-9:45             Welcome, Opening Prayer, Announcements, Ice breaker (sometimes)

9:45-9:55             Coaching Lesson

10:00 – 11:00     Small Group Discussion and Prayer Requests (last 10 minutes)

We prayerfully drew names and divided the 40 women who signed up into 3 smaller discussion groups.

Our facilitators are only responsible for leading the women through the questions on the READ worksheet, touching base with their group members as needed, and for collecting and distributing the group’s prayer requests.

You’ll notice there is no formal teaching session. This is intentional. The Holy Spirit serves as their teacher during the week, they learn from Biblical scholars as they dig into commentaries, and then they learn from each other during their discussion time.

We focus on just one chapter of scripture each week. (For longer books of the Bible you could double up and do two a week.)

This spring as we’ve been walking through Ephesians and Titus and we added a Reflections Worksheet for the end of each book. God’s led me to further tweak the questions and expand upon the supplemental materials based on feedback from our women.

So what exactly is READ?

R – Stands for RECORD. We ask women to record the facts. Who wrote it, why, to whom, where, when, and in what style. We take notes on the chapter, noting repeated words and areas of confusion. We end by writing a main sentence.

E – Stands for EXPLORE. We read the passage in at least one other translation. We open up commentaries and uncover historical and cultural context that Biblical scholars supply unlocking information and understanding we’d likely never get on our own.

A – Stands for APPLY. We write down what this passage says about God (His character and His promises) and what it says about you and me (our responsibilities and sin).

D – Stands for DO. James 1:22 tells us we are to “be doers of the word and not hearers only”. So we look at what God is asking us to do in light of the passage we’ve read.

What materials are required?

1. A Bible

A study Bible is helpful, but not necessary. I’m currently using the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. The women in our group have also found The Jeremiah Study Bible (NKJV or NIV) to be extremely beneficial.

2. Access to Another Bible Translation

I primarily rely on a CEV Bible. However there are bunches of translations available online and via Apps. Specific links are included in the study materials.

3. Access to a Commentary

I personally use these Women’s Evangelical Commentaries. However there are bunches of commentaries available online and via Apps. Specific links are included in the study materials.

4. The READ Workbook

Available for individual use and can be purchased here.

To purchase the 4-ebook kit for READ Bible Study for Groups click here.

What You Need to Know:

Women are encouraged to read the scripture multiple times during the week. The more familiar it becomes the more we can recall and understand what the scripture says. God is serious about us meditating on it day and night.  See Joshua 1:8.

We ask that they let the Holy Spirit speak to them before ever reading their Bible study notes or opening up a commentary.

We ask them to pray before and after reading God’s Word as we cannot understand without the help of the Holy Spirit. See John 14:26.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for women mentoring or discipling another is they feel they don’t know how to read God’s Word by themselves.

READ teaches women how to understand and walk through scripture. It gives them questions to ask and resources to use. It removes one more excuse that keeps them from be obedient to Titus 2.

The READ workbook is available for purchase for individual use here.

To purchase the 4-ebook kit for READ Bible Study for Groups click here.

READ is not the only way to study God’s Word, but it is a tool we’ve found to be effective with our women. Whatever you use, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to teach yourself and your women how to READ the Bible.

Reading the Bible changes lives.

To get more information about the READ workbook and to purchase the book click the link below.

You may also want to read:
Why I’m Tired of Bible Study Books
My Favorite Bible Study Resources
Tips & Tools for Bible Study & Small Group Faciliatators

One year ago: Spring & Easter Table Talk Cards
Two years ago: Icebreaker: Who here?
Three years ago: What area of ministry is God asking you to renovate?