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Creating Bible Study Reading Plans

The Bible is the holy book of Christianity, and many Christians gather to read the Bible and learn more about it. Getting together to the study the Bible can occur in all sorts of different forms. As the leader of a Bible study, you might be required to develop reading plans for the group. There are several things to keep in mind when creating such a plan for yourself and other people.

DO: Have a purpose

Although referred to as one book, the Bible is actually a collection of books. Within each book, there are multiple stories, and there are many different types of books, such as letters or historical narratives. It is easy to get off topic when reading the Bible as a group because of the diversity within the book. In order to keep the study focused and productive, it is important that you develop a purpose for the group. This often means creating a theme for the study, such as reading passages on peace or studying one of the books in the Bible straight through.

DO: Set milestone goals

A great way to strengthen the purpose and focus of your plan is to set goals along the way. For example, have a weekly reading goal to keep the study on track. If your goal is to read all of Proverbs, for instance, ask that every participant in the study read a chapter a week and meet to discuss the week's chapter. Books that have a logical sequence and a drama to them, such as the book of Esther, may require goals tied to the story, like reading up to a certain event. Handing out lists of reading goals with dates can help keep participants on track.

DO: Incorporate other media

When meeting to study the Bible, sometimes it is helpful to incorporate other media resources into the discussion. Since many Christians are very familiar with the Bible, including other resources offers a new perspective and encourages participants to think more deeply about what you are studying together. Sources besides the Bible may have to be read on a schedule or on individual time. For some reading plans, this means that every person is encouraged to read a chapter of the Bible and a chapter of a complementary book each week, for instance. In other cases, you might simply offer a handout of an article or a link to video online for participants to reference.

DON'T: Go overboard

Some Bible study groups spend a lot of time reading together and have ambitious goals. While it is good to be zealous, it is also important to devote the time to studying order for it to be productive. Make sure that goals are attainable. Students and working adults, for example, may not be able to read a whole book of the Bible in a week, so set your goals based on what the participants (and not just you) can handle. Further, some topics are very complex. When addressing such topics, allow ample time, even spreading the study out over a couple of weeks.

DON'T: Be too strict

Since Bible studies can easily get distracted or derailed by the many interesting things brought up in group settings, it is important to have structure. However, too much structure can take away from the goal of learning together. Be sure to set your reading plan up so that it can change in small ways, if necessary. During the study, make time for questions. If a reading plan just is not working out, remember the purpose you developed for the study, and rework your plans to meet the purpose while changing your scheduled goals.

DON'T: Play it by ear

When people get into groups, it's easy for distractions to arise and for the group to get involved discussing a topic that is not in line with the purpose of the gathering. While being too strict or rigid in plans is not good, playing it by ear can also lead to senseless discussion. Rather than wasting time or being unproductive, make plans ahead of time. Share those plans with study participants. With everyone on the same page, it is easier to stay focused, and it's less confusing for people as they try to keep up with the plan.

Participating in a Bible study is one of the most common activities that Christians do together. Many churches offer Bible studies on Sunday mornings as an adult version of Sunday school, for example. Studies tend to be offered throughout the week at many churches, as well. It is common for a variety of people to lead and plan studies, so be confident as you create your own worthwhile plan.

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