Recommended Resource: One-to-One Bible Reading
I still remember the first time someone sat down to read the Bible with me. We were on a mezzanine in the student union of Oregon State University. I sat at a small table, leaning across it to look at my wise friend’s Bible and eat up the conversation. I had been reading the Bible on my own for years, but this was life-changing. So it is for many people.
The Bible is the book God gave us to teach us about him, about ourselves, about life, and about hope. While we believe that anyone can read the Bible and learn about God, it can be a confusing book. The first time I read through the Pentateuch, I couldn’t get past how much gold and how many embroidered pomegranates were on the special robes. (Ex. 28:33) It would have been helpful to be reading it with someone who would show me the bigger picture.
When we are discipling other people, sometimes we don’t know where to start. This can be even truer when we’re trying to train people to disciple others. We know we want to start with the Bible, but how? How do we read the Bible with someone and train others to do the same?
Enter One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm.
This resource gives you the encouragement that you can read the Bible with someone and the wonderful reasons why you should read it with others. Read it with those who don’t know the Lord, with those who are young in their faith, with your friends, and with those who are wiser than you are. Read the Bible with anyone, the author encourages you. Then David Helm gives you structure and instructions of how to do that. He lays out a very basic way to walk through the Bible for those unfamiliar with it. He also shows you the COMA method, which will help you and your partner grow in your understanding of the text, while reading it well.
I think one of the scariest parts of reading the Bible with others is that there are wrong ways to read and interpret Scripture. I know, that’s not very politically correct. What I mean is that when we read the Bible we want to look for what God inspired the author to mean when he wrote the passage. There is a true meaning of the text. When we take a chapter of the Bible and try to decide what we want it to mean, we end up in a scary land of creating our own word from God. That is a dangerous place to be. There are other poor ways of reading the Bible like ignoring the context, or the genre, or the connections to Jesus, or not actually applying it to our lives. With no application, we aren’t reading the Bible as believers. With no connections to Jesus and the gospel, we aren’t reading the Bible as Christians.
When I read the Bible with others, I don’t want to accidentally lead them down one of these dangerous paths of poor methodology. Sometimes when you’ve been reading for many years, you don’t realize the steps you take to read the Bible. You don’t consciously consider the Babylonian exile context or remind yourself that poetry is read differently than epistle. Rather, automatically, you adjust your lens as you read. It’s hard to teach a subconscious method to someone else. One-to-One Bible Reading helps you express your method through his COMA worksheets. He helps you remember the context, the observations of the text, the meaning of the original author, how it ties to Jesus, and how to apply it to your life. While inductive Bible study isn’t new, his clear method is the most helpful I have found.
I’ve been reading the Bible with others for more than a decade and training others to do the same for a good amount of that time. To be honest, I was a horrible trainer at first. Like the subconscious method of reading the Bible, my subconscious method of reading the Bible with others was not very transferable. “Just help them understand the passage,” I would say. I was telling someone to just make the pie when they had asked me for the recipe. This book has changed that. It gives the recipe with it’s clear instructions. It gives encouragement, covers genre, points to Jesus in each passage, and includes easy-to-use worksheets in the back. Did I mention that it’s only 75 pages?
I’ve probably gone through 80 copies as I’ve trained others. I hope you do as well, as you equip others to read the Bible in pairs. May many more young women be leaning over a table to soak in the discussion of a Bible passage with a wise friend.
One-to-One Bible Reading is one of the several books we discussed and gave away at our Fall 2015 Verity Fellowship Conference. Our series on Recommended Resources will highlight the speaker-suggested books as well as other publications helpful for ministry.