A Note from Mary Margaret West: This topic is one that we get asked about all the time! There’s so much that we can learn from each other when it comes to best practices, and this is a great example. While reading the Bible never changes in itself, we’re constantly going to be encountering girls who are looking for a method that works for them. Let’s be a good resource and help as they learn to love the Bible. Cassie gives some great ideas here today!
In a world of temptation and false teaching coated as “Christian”, one of the best tools we can give our students is the tools to study the Bible for themselves. The Word of God should be the authority they live their lives on. It should be where they turn in times of trial and decision making. It should be the mirror they hold every message the world throws at them against. However, how can they do these things if they’re never discipled in Bible study?
I’m deeply passionate about teaching the how-tos of studying Scripture. My students and I spent two summers studying the book of John, with one of the main purposes being teaching them to study the Bible for themselves. Here’s how we did it:
Start with truths of encouragement and challenge.
I wanted to equip the girls to study the entire Bible on their on, not just one book, so on day one we simply discussed these truths.
- Believers are gifted with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have everything we need to study Scripture. One of the Spirit’s jobs is to illuminate the Word to us. We can trust him to guide us.
- The Bible isn’t about us; it’s about God. Our main goal in reading Scripture is to get to know God.
- The Bible is one Big Story. From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture tells one story about a holy God who rescues his sinful people.
- The Bible should be read in context, and we should study whole books of the Bible at a time. Scripture is easily taken out of context to mean something the author didn’t intend when we haphazardly read it. If I hand someone a book, they wouldn’t go to chapter 2, read line 1, and then jump to chapter 3 and read line 3. That wouldn’t make any sense. This is how we treat the Bible when we read it this way. The authors wrote their books in the way they did for specific purposes. We glean much more from Scripture when we read it in context.
- We must make Scripture a priority. I know life is busy, but we wouldn’t love our girls very well if we didn’t challenge them to make time for the Lord. This convicts us too as we can’t challenge them to study Scripture if we’re not also doing it. Encourage them to pick a consistent time each day, but also warn them as seasons of life change (school vs. summer), they’ll probably have to re-think this time. Help them think where pockets of time might be, and challenge them if they have time to scroll Instagram, watch Netflix, etc., then they have time for the Bible.
- We don’t know everything about the Bible, and we never will. This is why studying Scripture is a lifelong journey. Let your girls know their questions are welcomed and good!
Give them a plan.
This can be done one-on-one or with larger groups. Prayerfully, this will be something they can incorporate independently into their daily lives.
- Choose a book of the Bible to study. John is a good starting place because there’s rich truth for the youngest believer to the oldest, and John writes in a simple, easily understandable way. However, there’s no right or wrong choice! You know what’s most beneficial to your girls.
- Have them read one chapter per week with one simple question, “What do I learn about God?” This could be things God does, says, how he’s described, etc. This keeps the focus on the Main Character of Scripture, and helps them engage in the text.
- Encourage them to bring one question (or more) they have about the text. This affirms them in knowing we don’t have to know it all!
- Teach them to pray Scripture! They can go back through what they wrote about God, and use that to guide their prayers. They can praise God, ask him to change their hearts to match his, etc.
Meet and Discuss.
Meet with your girls and ask them what they learned about God through their study. Be ready with a few things from your own study and questions in case the discussion dies down. Also, having a few simple, comprehension questions such as, “Who does Jesus meet at night in John 3?” are helpful to engage shyer girls who aren’t quite ready to share their hearts. Ask girls how their lives should change based on what they learned about God. Then, close with discussing how that Scripture leads you to pray.
Studying the Bible on its own is hard work, and it takes practice. However, we shouldn’t shy away from hard things, especially when they reap such eternal benefits. One of my biggest encouragements is just to dive in and start. Studying Scripture is kind of like our children learning to talk. They start out with a few words, but the more they interact and grow, the more natural and mature their language becomes. Our girls might start out with a few truths, but the more they interact with Scripture, the more natural it’ll become to them. Teaching girls to study the Bible is just one way we can disciple them to become mature believers.
My prayer is we’ll find the beauty of God in every page of his Word. May we all grow to love Christ deeper as we get to know him more.
(Originally posted here)
Cassie Pattillo is a wife to Jack, and mama to Hunter (4), Isaac (2), and is in the process of adopting from India. Jack is a student pastor, so she loves serving alongside him and investing in teens’ lives. She is passionate about biblical literacy along with writing and teaching about Scripture. She is also a big fan of slow mornings with a cup of coffee, a good book on the beach, and Gamecock football.