Give a skilled trumpeter his horn and a solo, and he can pin back your ears or prick your heart. He can draw out emotions you’d locked away or inspire grand thoughts of beauty and grace. There is power and clarity in his notes. Now put that same trumpeter in a jazz band and listen again. As the instruments swell and fall in concert, you’ll hear a richness and depth that a soloist cannot produce on his own. It isn’t that the music is better; both can be profound and beautiful.
Without hours alone in the practice room, the trumpeter misses out on technique, skill, and precision. Without a band, he won’t learn to listen, react, follow, or lead. He needs both settings.
So it is with Bible study. The majority of your Bible study will likely take place in private. This is the necessary foundation for a life of loving God and living faithfully in the world.
But if you study the Bible only by yourself, you’ll miss the concert. Work on your breathing, perfect those scales, and come join the band.
Bless and Be Blessed
Here at Knowable Word, we want to help people learn to study the Bible. In a good small group Bible study, you will mature and you’ll have the chance to help others grow. It’s the best sort of two-for-one.
If you’re not already in a small group Bible study, consider joining one. I can think of at least three reasons.
- Small group Bible studies help you study the Bible. We all need as much time with the Bible as possible, and a small group gives you extra exposure every week or so. Within your group you can (hopefully) find good examples of Bible study; this will accelerate your development and strengthen your OIA muscles. A good leader will ask questions that lead your group through the observation–interpretation–application process and help you to advance in each area.
- Small group Bible studies remind you that you need other people. God has made us as relational, social beings who thrive in community. Because of our sin, relationships can be difficult, but without other people we shrivel up and dry out. We need contact with others from different ages and life situations to appreciate God’s faithful and diverse working throughout the church. I love listening to older saints recount God’s consistent companionship, encouragement, and correction over the years.
Small group Bible studies remind you that you need other people to study the Bible. I’ve written before that we need community to apply the Bible. But this isn’t just true for application. Fellow Christians also help us observe the important aspects of a Bible passage and interpret correctly. We need others to help us see what is true in the Bible—to sharpen, clarify, and correct what we think.
In the same way that you need others, others also need you. Armed with solid Bible study principles, you can serve as an example or mentor for others in your small group.
Finally, Bible study within a small group has a dynamic you cannot reproduce on your own. As you participate in discussion and share ideas, you take advantage of interaction, one of the distinctives of the setting.
Note: This is the first in a short-ish series of posts on attending small group Bible studies. If you have any related questions, feel free to toss them into the comments on this post. (We’ve already published extensively about leading Bible studies.)