At God’s WORLD News, we promote the development and exercise of biblical literacy because we know the Father’s word equips us to understand His world. As a news organization, our particular slice of the world relates to current events. So for our portion of the discipleship pie, we want to develop news literacy alongside biblical literacy.
I agree with Jen Wilkin who argues that the world needs the influence of those grounded in the word. If we are not grounded in scripture, we will end up influenced by the world instead of influencing it. Thaddeus Williams’ recent article in WORLD Opinions reinforces her argument, including sobering data to support it.
So, how do we mature in biblical literacy?
The best method for this may already be familiar to you: inductive Bible study. In my experience, the diligent study of the Bible in an inductive manner allows us to go deep, think carefully, and respond faithfully. [For a deeper look at this method, I highly recommend Denis Haack’s e-book A Practical Method of Bible Study for Ordinary Christians, which he has made available for free here].
Since Bible study serves as the backbone for our cultural engagement, I want to go back to the basics and outline a simple way to practice these things at home or in the classroom.
In a blog post from July 2022, I introduced a tool for engaging media. Since then, Jonathan and I have both modeled its use in blogs, will use it consistently on Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast (premiering January 18).
The same tool develops our understanding all media, including scripture (the ultimate media!). We simply need to keep it sharpened and honed.
The SOAR Method. Take a moment to review and remember the steps: Survey. Observe. Analyze. Respond.
S.O.A.R. serves as the backbone for inductive Bible study, developing our comprehension and application of God’s word (biblical literacy).
The resource to the right is free! Consider printing one for each of your children. Better yet, have each individual write the Simple Summary in his or her own handwriting, in color, creating a bookmark as a compelling way to remember the material presented
- Drag and Drop – Grab the image from the right with your cursor. Drop it into an open Word doc or Google doc.
- Copy and Paste – Right click the image to copy and paste into an open doc.
- Save to Desktop – Right click and select “Save Image As”
Try this with your kids and students:
- Choose a book of the Bible to dive into together. I recommend Ruth or Jonah from the OT or from the NT, Galatians or another short epistle as a great place to start. Print out a copy of the short book with no chapter headings or verse numbers (manuscript style) and double spaced for notes.
- Map out your study (according to your family or classroom schedule) to allow you to read through the entire book together in one sitting for your first session.
- Observation work can be done as individual journal work or homework during the next week. Consider reading the passage again in smaller chunks and praying throughout other devotional times that week. Encourage use of highlighters, colored pencils, etc.
- For your second discussion, share and talk about your OBSERVATIONS only. This requires great discipline and facilitation: it is SO easy to move onto analysis/interpretation. Don’t give in too soon! Like looking at a beautiful piece of art, listening to a piece of music, or reading an excellent work of fiction, gazing at the details of the piece—the craft of it—allows us to sit in it and have a relationship with it, transforming our heart posture and understanding. Encourage questions from your kids/students! Questions show curiosity and a desire to wrestle with the text. Again: You may need to break this into multiple sessions, depending on your time and the age of your kids/students.
- Your third discussion will concentrate on analysis. All those connections to other places in scripture that help develop our biblical theology take place in this moment. It provides the opportunity for “aha!” moments. Remember: Scripture interprets scripture—”context is king.” When in doubt, pray that the Lord would show you other places He has inspired teaching on the challenging topics. Also: Remember that ALL analytical/interpretive statements need to be grounded in the OBSERVATION work from the previous week. You may wish to divide your analytical work into many sessions.
- Respond: this is a moment for asking how the scripture applies to the lives of the learning community. Ask the participants—your children, spouse, students—how does this press into your life? What does obedience (in response to the provision and instruction of the text) look like?
Biblical literacy equips news/cultural literacy. It equips our relationships with God, man, and creation. And it equips us to understand our mission. As we deepen our relationship with God and His word we realize: it doesn’t stop there. He calls us to go into the world to make disciples of every nation, tribe, and tongue. May we eagerly pick up the tools others have helped to hone that we might further our forays both into His heart and outward, establishing His Kingdom in the hearts of men, women, and children desperate for life-giving hope. His word and Spirit supply all that we need to make a start.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org —I’m listening!