Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feasting on the Word of God

"The Feast" occurs periodically at my church. Pastor Steve leads "The Feast," which is a six-hour Bible study of a book or five chapter segment of the Word of God.

"The Feast" is different than what you might think when you think of a Bible study. Pastor does not spend six hours preaching. Let me explain by giving you a snapshot of last night's feast. The study last night was of the Letter to the Philippians.

About twenty of us gathered in the church foyer. We sat in a circle. We began our time together with prayer.

Pastor began the study by providing historical background for the City of Philippi and the Philippian Church.

Our first assignment was to read Philippians in its entirety, give the letter a one sentence or phrase title, and make a list of all of the major themes we saw in the letter. After a period of time determined by the pastor, we regrouped and shared our suggested titles and lists of major themes.

Note: "The Feast" is not a "this is what the verse means to me" kind of study. The focus of the individual times of study during the evening is making observations of the text and growing every minute in our familiarity with the text, the writer, and the audience.

Once each person had an opportunity to share the information they gathered, Pastor then led the group in a study of the major themes of the letter.

Our next four assignments, based on each of the four chapters of Philippians, followed a consistent pattern. With each of the last four assignments we were tasked with reading the chapter of the letter that corresponded with the assignment. Once we finished the reading, we were tasked with giving the chapter a title and then making thirty observations about the text in each chapter.

In making observations of each chapter of the letter, I employed the hermeneutic principles I learned in seminary. As I observed the text, I asked three questions: What does the verse or passage say? What does the verse or passage not say? And what are some questions that come to mind as I read the verse or passage?

After each assignment, we regrouped, shared our observations and chapter titles, and was led in deeper study by our pastor. We were able to interact with our pastor by asking and answering questions about the Scriptures.

But for a few short breaks, we studied Philippians for six hours!

I've led and been involved in many Bible studies over the last 23+ years. I can say, without hesitation, what I experienced last night was by far the most fulfilling experience I have ever had in a Bible study. My brethren and I truly feasted on the Word of God.

I highly recommend this form of Bible study, not only for churches, but for times of personal study of God's Word.

What a joy to feast on the Word of God!

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