Below you will find worship resources for individual and group bible study.
- A Guide for Studying the Parables of Jesus -This is a series studying the parables of Jesus by Rev. Kathleen Rolenz. The booklet is attached as a PDF that was printed and distributed to members of the West Shore UUCF Chapter, Cleveland, Ohio, October 2009. Below are orders of service which are free for you to use and/or adapt to your small groups.
Ten Suggestions for Leading Bible Study
by Rev. Sue Spencer
- Whatever else you do, have fun with it!
- Keep the well filled with living water, and drink from it regularly. Prepare by reading the Bible daily. Engage in some form of regular Bible study, and keep a regular spiritual practice, even it it's only a few minutes a day.
- Always approach the work as a learner, even when you're in the role of teacher. There's always more to learn; as Pastor John Robinson said in his parting words to the Pilgrims--"The Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth from his holy Word."
- As valuable as the historical-critical approach is, try not to get locked into it. UUs will always want some analytical understanding of a text--but encourage them to engage the text as a "Thou", as well as to learn about "It." Assume that the text has the power to address us, and even transform us!
- Find ways to engage multiple intelligences, the whole self. For example, use art, music, dance, mime, drama, guided meditation, and silence, as well as the written and spoken word. (See the Bible Workbench and Walter Wink's Transforming Bible Study for many wonderful suggestions.)
- While leading groups, resist the temptation always to be the "expert" or "answer person." The Jewish practice of answering a question with another question is an excellent habit to cultivate. Empower others to find their own answers, and to become leaders themselves. If a factual answer is called for, ask, "How would it affect our understanding to know that...(e.g. that crucifixion was a Roman punishment?)
- Ask open-ended questions. If you're stumped about what to ask, "What do you notice?" or "What does the group think?" are good fallback questions.
- Assume that most good questions have many good answers.
- Use methods and structures that encourage all participants to speak.
- Above all, try to stay attuned to the movement of the Spirit in the group--as it is said, "Hear what the Spirit is saying to God's people' (Rev. 2:11). Pray before, during and after any session you lead. Always begin a session with a period of quiet centering inviting people to open themselves to the Spirit.
A Process For Group Bible Study
by Rev. Sue Spencer
- We begin with a time of quiet centering.
- One member of the group reads the text aloud. Another reads from another translation.
- The facilitator asks a series of questions, designed to help participants engage the text and "live into" the story. Usually (s)he will invite many answers.
- The session concludes with an exercise designed to deepen the exploration. Participants are invited, but not required, to share gleanings from this exercise.
- The text, not the leader, is the focus.
- The purpose of the process is to engage the text, not to analyze it or find its "objective" meaning.
- We are all equals before the text, since we're all experts on our own experience.
- Living the questions is more important than coming to a "correct" answer. There are usually many valid responses to a text, many possible right answers.
- "Our goal...as we move among these texts is that we are transformed." --Walter Wink
Guidelines for Discussion:
- Try to approach even the most familiar text with "beginner's mind" as if you're hearing it for the first time.
- Always use "I" statements, and say how the text speaks to YOU.
- Don't debate. Listen to one another, and allow all responses to "be there." Participants decide for themselves which answers are helpful and which are not.
- If you tend to talk a lot in groups, monitor your participation. Make sure everyone has enough "air time."
- Conversely, if you tend to be quiet in groups, risk a little. Your insights might unlock a door for someone else!
- You always have the right to change your mind.