Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bad Bible Studies

I was thinking how humorous it would be to link to Worst Study Questions Of The Week, but thought better of it. Even if I didn't link to them directly, curious folk could google them and trace their provenance. Even on a small site like this, people might tip off those criticised, who might be hurt. Also, they would click themselves over here to correct me by noting how many people had gotten saved by that exact question at last week's revival or how it had prevented them from committing suicide or poisoning their neighbor or whatever. So there.

Instead, I will note a style of Bible study (or Christian topic study) which absolutely burns out my clutch on contact. Good questions, delivered in a condescending style, as one might use with third-graders.

What is God trying to tell us about justice in this passage?
How do you think God feels about those who profess His name but do not show hospitality?
What can you do in the coming week to show Christ to others in the area of mercy?

Perfectly good sentiments. Those are indeed the questions we should be asking. But Moses on a moped, why do they have to put it that way? I have wondered how the companies publishing these study guides can stay in business.

Well, some folks don't pick up tone-of-voice in written comments, so they're immune. Others like the clarity of the questions enough that they can overlook the tone. Still others are figuring they could write Bible studies just as well and are calculating whether there's a living in it.


Erin said...

I would be the 3rd. That's one of the main reasons why the young adult Bible study I was involved in for years fizzled out. We all hated the study guide books you could buy. We tried just about every kind to no success. Dani & I had the motivation, but not the time, to put into creating our own. And the others were just too lazy to do the reading for the week, much less create the lessons.

My word verification is "Nasto". Sounds like something from the 80's: "Dude, you were the bomb on that nasto halfpipe!"

Retriever said...

I always used to buy the glossy Study Guides for the groups I led, to reassure people that there would be some structure, then I would take one of two approaches: either parody the questions to get people to laugh then be more honest (funny that you just posted about parody!) Or just write my own questions, and tailor the to the group. When I had adults nobody had time or energy to do homework but with teens one could assign them to each come up with a question or example or issue to bring to the next meeting. Those were the best. From which I learned that we learn more together when we exert ourselves more. We had some good discussions when using Rob Bell videos as jumping off points. Many hated them, some loved them, but all had lots to say about the issues raised. My personal preference is just to emcourage everyone to imagine themselves one character in the story, pray, reflect, present their point of view, and everyone discuss. But what do I know? Am a rebellious cranky lover of the Bible and learn more from how others relate it to their lives than I could ever manipulatively teach by structuring questions. I did however make a big effort to have lots of historical, iterary, linguistic and church handouts for those who want background and love trivia and history (as I do). Corny as it sounds, I believe that if we begin w prayer and invite God's direction, we will find the right way anyway.