Look closely at this shape? What do you notice? Here are three observations about the shape.
#1 The Line Creates Circles
The secret to leading a great Bible study is to depend on this truth: God wants to be known.
The shape of an InterVarsity Bible study reflects this. The line represents what you will do during the study as a leader. But the line isn’t the focus. The focus of the study is the space that you create for the group to interact directly with God and His Word.
This isn’t a leader-centric style of Bible study where you are expected to have all the answers. This kind of study is a community and scripture focused style, where the leader helps us engage the Bible and makes room for God to speak for himself.
#2 The Line Isn’t Straight
God wants to be known, but he’s quite different from us. Our experience of getting to know him rarely feels predictable and straightforward.
This isn’t the kind of Bible study where one thought always flows neatly into the next. And the role of the leader isn’t to make sure everyone stays on script. Instead, your work is to facilitate a lively, respectful, and sometimes surprising conversation between your group and the Bible.
#3 Three Parts Form the Whole
As we seek to discover God, the flow of our Bible study will naturally move from:
“What’s there?” to
“What does it mean?” to
Imagine the shape as a roller coaster. Each loop creates momentum for the next. The more we notice, the more curious we are about what it means. The greater our clarity on what it means, the more energized we are to put it into practice.
The formal names for those three circles are Observation, Interpretation, and Application. They are the central elements of an inductive approach to studying the Bible. In InterVarsity, we have found this approach works best when we print out the passage into what we call a Manuscript.
What’s a Manuscript?
Part 1: How to Lead Observation