Non-Cheesy Bible Study Method for Couples
For some time now, Meg and I have been struggling to find the right way to implement a joint Bible study between her and I. We’ve tried various methods and various studies, but none have panned out. We usually start out pretty strong and that strength usually lasts about two weeks. Then we burn-out, get busy, <insert other lame excuses here>, etc. One of the other problems we have faced is a general feeling of “cheesiness.” By that I mean that most of the studies we’ve tried have ended up leaving us feeling…well, cheesy. I can’t pick one and put my finger on it; and perhaps it isn’t the study at all, but anytime we’ve tried to study God’s Word together and pray together on a regular basis, we have fought the “cheese factor.”
One encouragement that I’ve found (that also serves as a discouragement) in my quest for an appropriate couples Bible study method is that most everyone else I know struggles with this too. I recently asked a group of my guy (Christian) friends how they go about studying God’s Word together with their wives and if they pray together on a regular basis. The majority of their responses were blank stares. So it seems that in general (or at least within the group that I run with), this is a huge area for improvement.
Taking all of this into account, Meg and I have recently come up with a method that we think will be effective for us. I say that knowing that it might not be effective for you. The key here, however, is to find something that does works for you (and don’t stop trying until you do).
We’re going to begin just slowly working through a book of the Bible together. We’ve picked the book of James for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s my wife’s favorite book in the NT and 2) It’s a short book and makes for an obtainable goal as we set out.
We’re also going to use a commentary. I love to read commentaries, but until recently never really considered using a commentary as a part of a couple’s Bible study since I didn’t think it would interest my lovely wife. Much to my surprise then, was her suggestion of using a commentary to guide our study. Just a quick aside: nothing says sexy to me like my wife reading a Bible commentary – seriously.
Our method is quite simple. I took a swing through the book of James and also through a commentary and came up with some natural divisions breaking down book into smaller “chunks.” This is where a commentary can be extremely helpful. We’ve already both read through the book of James in its entirety a couple of times, and now we will begin going through our chunks, one chunk per week. So our plan is to read the chunk of James on our own, and read the corresponding section in the commentary on our own. In the process of working through the text and the commentary on our own, we’ll each take notes (mental or written), write-out questions, journal thoughts, etc. We’ll then sit down one night a week, talk about it, and pray together over what God is teaching us through our study.
Why it will work:
This is a good method for us because we both love to read. It also takes us out of the realm of “topical” couple studies which typically pull from all over the Bible to focus on a particular topic (e.g. improving intimacy, improving communication, yada, yada, yada). Instead, we’ll go to the Source for ourselves and learn from God’s Word what he wants to teach us. We’ll also be cultivating a way to just flat out practice studying God’s Word on our own, rather than always relying on someone else to teach us topics.
I’m excited about this and I plan to start a new series on the blog here that will sort of reflect what we’re doing and what we’re learning. Look for that in the near future. In addition, I’d also like to hear from any of you. What have you used in your marriage that has worked for a means of studying God’s Word together? Why did it work? What hasn’t worked? Why hasn’t it worked? Why?