Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunday School recap - Sept. 21

This past Sunday we had our second lesson about how to study the Bible. Here is an overview of what we covered. The class is for all students in grades 6-12. Our final lesson is next week.

I also gave out new Bibles to students who did not already have a study Bible. These types of Bibles are incredibly valuable for reading and study!! The kids received Life Application bibles - it's a brand that has a little bit of everything - there are lots of resources such as charts, reading guides, maps, timelines, character studies, etc. There are plenty of notes at the bottom of each page of text as well - some explain confusing verses, other give historical/cultural background, and some are life application questions. It's my favourite study Bible so I hope your kids like it too! I handed out a case of 20 (very encouraging) - if your child has not received one, they can get one in the next few weeks as I am putting in another order for Bibles this week. Ask your child to show you their Bible - maybe they can even teach you something new they learned!


We spend some time talking about popular translations and comparing them to NIV. We always use NIV or NLT in Sunday School, and I preach from either those two translations or the Message. Pastor Stef also uses those 3 but will often include ESV as well. We also took a look at KJV just to see why people sometimes use a lot of "thees" and "thous" when they quote the Bible.

Most Bible translations also come from the original manuscripts. These translations include NIV and NLT. Scholars don't translate from previous translations, which means we get very accurate translations that capture the original documents thought for thought. There are other useful translations out there that are word for word or idea for idea that are translated from other versions, such as the Message and KJV - which is why we study using the former two, and use other translations for comparison only.

Decide what to read:

Last week, we talked about steps to take to prepare for study. This next step covered how to choose what part of the Bible to read. Here are some ways to choose:

  • Choose a topic - use the index/concordance to find a topic that interests you and look up those passages to study them. Devotionals can also be useful for this.
  • Choose a book - this means looking at the theme when you decide whether to read it or not. We talked about different genres of books (poetry, history, prophets, gospel, etc.)
  • Read based on a schedule - the kids looked at different reading guides, such as Chronological, Bible in a Year, Bible for New Christians, etc. We always have copies of these guides for students to take home - they are at our Welcome Table.
  • Read with someone else - choose what to read together with a friend, or by reading what is covered in a Bible study.

Beginning to Read:

A great first step is to read all notes that come before the book starts. In our study Bibles, that info includes a summary that relates to real life, a 'blueprint' of the book's layout, and basic info such as author, audience, theme, time period, location, and key verses. The kids read this and then made predictions about what they will learn in James,

Next, they learned how to reference the notes on the text. They looked up a few confusing verses in the Bible and read them together, trying to figure out what they meant. Then, they read the note below the verse and talked about what new info they learned.

Finally, we talked about reading in context. Reading individual verses can be confusing because we may not know what message the author was trying to send if we only read a snippet. We looked at Matthew 18:20 and talked about what it sounded like compared to what the passage was actually about.

For shorter books, it's useful to read the full book quickly, then go back and re-read passages in more detail (a passage is a paragraph, and usually has a sub-heading. Chapters often cut off passages part way through). For longer books, it's best to just study each passage in depth during the first read-through.

Weekly assignment - students can choose one of the following:

  • Choose a Bible reading plan and start using it OR
  • Brainstorm some topics you want to learn about and look one up using your concordance OR
  • Compare 2-3 translations using James 1

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