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How to Find the Best Bible Study Curriculums (5 Key Questions)

  • Betsy St. Amant Haddox
How to Find the Best Bible Study Curriculums (5 Key Questions)

Choosing a Bible Study curriculum for a group can be an intimidating challenge. Whether you’re teaching the group yourself or simply choosing a video and workbook to go through together as a class, there can be lot of pressure when selecting spiritual-growth materials for others. Because face it—we’ve all attended Bible Studies over the years that were hits and some that were misses.

What if it’s too hard for people in the group? What if it’s too easy? What if it’s boring and no one does their weekly homework? What if no one participates in the discussion? What will people think of me if I choose something they don’t like?

There are just a few of the questions that tend to fly through our heads when faced with such a daunting task. But instead of giving way to anxiety or peer pressure, here are five helpful questions you can ask before choosing a Bible Study curriculum for a group.

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1. Is this study truly studying the Bible?

1. Is this study truly studying the Bible?

In the South where I live, if I offer you a “coke,” I’m actually offering anything from a Coca Cola to a Sprite to a Dr. Pepper to a Diet Coke. Unfortunately, that level of vagueness seems to be the new trend when studying anything in the church. But Bible studies don’t need to be that way.

If you’re not doing an actual Bible study, please don’t advertise it as such. It’s misleading and irreverent to the Word of God.

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"Give the Bible the respect it deserves."

"Give the Bible the respect it deserves."

All too often I’ve seen churches offer a “Lisa Bevere Bible Study” on a non-fiction book that she, or another talented inspirational author, wrote. Reading spiritual self-help books written by current authors can be a good thing—they often provide quality discussion and give solid life advice for the Christian journey. But that’s a book club meeting—not a Bible study. Give the Bible the respect it deserves.

However, a Bible study by an author who is breaking down and explaining a particular book of the Bible is still a Bible study, such as Beth Moore’s study “Daniel” or Jennifer Rothschild’s study “Hosea.”

Clarify what your group is actually studying, and title/advertise it as such to avoid confusion. 

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2. Is this study profitable for the group as a whole?

2. Is this study profitable for the group as a whole?

Some Bible studies are geared toward a group, while others are geared toward individual study time due to the potentially sensitive topic or nature of the study. Is the subject matter of your curriculum one that will lead to healthy group discussion? If it’s a co-ed study, is the subject matter going to be comfortable for both sexes to discuss in front of each other? 

A side question to this could be: Is there application? Meaning, does this study give practical tips that shows how to apply the information to our lives? Learning about the Bible is wonderful, but going a step further and living it out is much more fulfilling and useful. 

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."  (James 1:22, ESV)

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3. Does the study require me to dive into Scripture for myself outside of the curriculum?

3. Does the study require me to dive into Scripture for myself outside of the curriculum?

It can be tempting to do a Bible study that only requires reading of the daily/weekly curriculum, rather than encouraging the participant to study the Word for themselves on top of the book’s entries and chapters. It’s good to glean from another Christian’s interpretation of Scripture, but how much more beneficial is it to feast for ourselves?

Reading a study about the Bible without ever reading from the Bible is like plucking a handful of grapes from an overflowing buffet table. There’s so much more available, and we’re missing out by reading only human words.

If possible, pick a curriculum that contains plenty of Scripture alongside the author’s input—one that challenges the reader to go deeper for themselves. Chasing rabbit trails can be frustrating in a group discussion, but when it comes to one’s personal time with the Lord, it can be an exciting adventure of connecting dots all throughout the inspired Word. 

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"... keep looking for more Scriptural gold nuggets."

"... keep looking for more Scriptural gold nuggets."

I recently did a chronological study of the Bible and was amazed at how much I didn’t realize went together from Old Testament story to story! Spending time looking up the original meaning of particular words and tracing maps and learning how familiar stories linked together was incredibly entertaining.

Having fun with the “wild goose chase” just made me want to keep looking harder for more Scriptural gold nuggets. Encourage the attendees in your group to look into the Word for themselves and come back ready to share what they’ve gleaned—even if the curriculum doesn’t require it. 

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4. Is the author of this particular study trustworthy?

4. Is the author of this particular study trustworthy?

There are many quality Christian authors out there, but there are likely just as many—if not more—who don’t follow the same doctrine you hold fast to.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV)

There could also be authors that started out believing as you do but might have recently changed their beliefs on important elements that you don’t agree with now. These most likely will include hot button issues such as:

  • Homosexuality
  • Marriage
  • Abortion
  • Social Rights
  • Racism

It’s worth doing a quick search of the study’s author to make sure they still are teaching the truth and haven’t strayed from the Word.

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"...make sure they still are teaching the truth ..."

"...make sure they still are teaching the truth ..."

Unfortunately, as authors increase in popularity and platform, the temptation to stray from the truth and “tickle ears” instead increases as well. These authors are often under pressure from publishers or others in the industry to stay popular, and therefore have to resist the urge to give readers what they want to hear, rather than what the Word actually declares.

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” (2 Peter 3:14-17, ESV)

We are to be like Jesus said in Matthew 10:16 (ESV), “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Filter wisely, especially if you’re being held accountable as a teacher for a group.

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5. Do you need curriculum at all?

5. Do you need curriculum at all?

Don’t get me wrong, buying a workbook and/or a video to use when leading a small group Bible study is almost always a wise choice. After all, you’re sitting at the feet of a trusted teacher or author who has put a lot of energy, time, and hard work into dissecting the Word of God and is sharing what they’ve learned. But don’t discount the simplistic beauty and power of a group of women who simply read a chapter or book of the Bible together and discuss it.

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"...there’s much to learn from a genuine and heartfelt gathering of believer."

"...there’s much to learn from a genuine and heartfelt gathering of believer."

There should always be a strong leader in attendance who can gently correct false assumptions or inaccurate interpretation for trickier passages, but there’s much to learn from a genuine and heartfelt gathering of believers.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)

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Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./

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