“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Dear brothers & sisters,
Thank you for standing with us in the gospel work here in Sweden. This spring we are focusing in several different groups (both within our small church and with people from around in Sweden) on how to handle the Bible in their daily Bible reading, and with one another. I’ve mentioned previously how we’ve been using Dig deeper by Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach to teach people foundational hermeneutical principles in how to study the Bible. What we’re now doing is to practice those principles together.
I’m currently going through the book of Titus with two online groups consisting of pastors, church planters, and potential leaders from around the country. Within the church, we also started a home group Bible study to go through the book of Colossians. Even though we are not allowed to meet in person, we have also allowed key people from three other cities to join us in this study.
I made a bookmark following the well-known COMA method (SIBT in Swedish) which stands for Context, Observation, Meaning, and Application (in general, I’m “allergic” against methods, but for the sake of training I find this one helpful). Then I’ve written goals for each of the COMA principles. So, when it comes to the Context (What?) the goal is to help the participants to understand the context and circumstances to aid interpretation. When somebody leads a Bible study, they will be trained to make questions to reach that goal.
Secondly, when it comes to Observation (What?) the goal is to see what the text says and to identify the main point of the passage. Also, here like with Meaning and Application, the participants in the Bible study will be trained in how to write questions that will reach that goal. Thirdly, they will look at the Meaning (Why?) where the goal is to understand the meaning of the passage and the author’s purpose. Finally, when it comes to the Application (So what?) they will be able to apply the text in line with the author’s purpose. On the backside of the bookmark is a checklist with the interpretation principles from Dig Deeper as well as some key questions.
I’ve already had one group going through Titus and it has been very fruitful to see how the participants have grown in their handling of the Bible.
As for the Colossian’s group, the idea is to divide the participants into small groups where each group would identify the main point, purpose of the passage, speak about its application, and then gather to discuss. After that, the groups get back together into their small groups to pray.
There are so many needs to read the Bible with new believers, inquirers of faith, as well as to train future leaders. We are in great need of more workers. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Matt 9:38). Pray that this would bear great fruit -especially for the small groups being started around Sweden. Pray as we are helping them think through how to study the Bible- especially pray that God would raise up elder qualified men from among each of these groups. The ideal thing would be for somebody to be discipled, trained, tested, and to serve for a while in a local church before being sent out to a church plant.
In the case of several of those groups, it is people who have come to an understanding of the gospel and sound teaching, but they can not find healthy churches in their surroundings, so they start to study the Bible together.
It’s workable (but not ideal, nor preferable) to train people over distance on how to handle the Bible. It’s very hard to discern people’s character and walk when you’re not at the same location, so we are cautious. Pray for us as we work in finding the best way can help these small groups. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and for the right priorities as we continue to get in contact with more small groups who ask for our help.