This leader guide contains ideas for how to love a Bible using the Foundations Workbook, plus engaging conversation starters to help you navigate it with someone else. This is what we would call a discipleship relationship: simply two or a few people coming alongside each other to grow as followers of Jesus. Our hope is that these notes will help you as a disciple-maker.
The Loved Bible Project aims to help you create a tool, equipping you to engage in conversation, either within existing discipleship relationships, or to help you establish a new one.
The Foundations Workbook has basic doctrines of Scripture, summarized into key points. From here, you can write those notes on a Post-it and add it to a Bible. These simple notes help you start a conversation when you’re with someone, helping them gain understanding of these important truths. The Loved Bible is a tool you’ve created to guide the conversation, using the Bible itself!
We’re all called to be disciple-makers; ordinary people, not just pastors, ministry leaders, seminary grads, and Bible teachers.
To learn more about setting up a small group, click here.
Let’s get started on pages 8 and 9 of the Foundations Workbook.
INTRODUCTION: What is the Bible?
CONVERSATION STARTER: “What are some general ways you’ve heard the Bible explained?”
Brainstorm a short list with your disciple or group. Examples could include: a book about how to live, God’s Word, a book that has some good moral guidelines, a myth, an outdated book irrelevant to fit today’s culture.
CONVERSATION STARTER: “If someone says they read their Bible, what are some different things they might mean by that?”
In our experience, this question provides great discussion. Some say it might look like a Scripture verse here and there. Others say it’s trying to find a verse that applies to a current feeling – feeling anxious, tired, weary, or ugly, etc. Some might say it’s reading one Proverb every day.
This article by Jen Wilkin gives examples of ways the Bible is read and the associated problems. You could discuss or summarize the various approaches (Xanax, pinball, magic 8 ball, personal shopper, Jack Sprat) and how you may have erroneously used them in approaching how you read the Bible. Ask: Which approach do you most identify with? Sometimes learning how not to read the Bible is helpful!
RECOMMEND RESOURCES: If your disciple is new to understanding how to read the Bible, this book would be a great future resource to read together:
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
Living by the Book by Hendricks & Hendricks
Helpful Hint: The Parking Lot. You and your disciple will encounter many subjects and have questions you may want to dig into more. In order to keep the discussion on course, utilize a parking lot technique: A parking lot is a place to capture comments, topics, or questions that are not related to the agenda. It keeps the focus on the immediate discussion while deferring (i.e., “parking”) other topics for later. You can research and discuss in a future or separate conversation!
READ: Go to page 8 of the Foundations Workbook and read the entire first paragraph out loud. (It’s helpful to rotate who reads for a variety of voices!)
The text in bold and all of the Scripture verses are great moments for you to recap, discuss, and highlight in a Loved Bible.
Below are possible conversation starters or activities:
LOVE A BIBLE: We previously discussed different responses to the question “What is the Bible?”. In this Biblical Overview, the Bible is described as “God’s Word.”
- Together, look up and highlight 1 Thessalonians 2:13.
- Write in the margin or on a sticky note: The Bible is God’s Word and as such, it contains his words for us.
Another quote you could use: “The Bible, God’s Word, is a gift from God to us. It is trustworthy and true, and it all points to Jesus.”Ryan Britt, Church of Eleven22
CONVERSATION STARTER: When you think of the Bible as God’s words to us, how does that change the way you look at reading the Bible? If God sent you a text message, would you read it? If God sent you an email, would you open it? If God sent you a letter, would you take it out of the envelope? So often, we get busy and don’t open our Bible. But this is better than any text, email, or letter — it is a book, perfectly complete. It’s God’s gift to us, allowing us to know him more fully. Thank God for this. And pray that you would grasp the importance of God’s Word.
“What habit or discipline helped me most was being in God’s Word, spending time with him, letting him feed me because what I pour into me is what will come out. If you come up and knock a mug of coffee, what’s going to spill out? Coffee. Whatever is inside me when I’m hit or jostled is what’s going to come out, and so I want to make sure to drink deeply from the well of living water each day.”Jani Ortlund, on Risen Motherhood Podcast #160
CONVERSATION STARTER: What does it look like for you to be in God’s Word? Talk about your rhythms and routines with each other. How frequently are you reading the Bible? How do you plan out your Bible reading?
CONVERSATION STARTER: It’s one big unified story, made up of many smaller stories. Growing up, did you hear of the Bible as many small stories (Jonah and the Fish, Daniel and the Lions, etc.) or as one unified story? One thing that has helped us to grow in biblical literacy is understanding the full story of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
RECOMMEND RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES: If you want to grow in understanding the story of Scripture:
- Add a Loved Bible entry: Read this blog post on how to add the story of Scripture to a Loved Bible. Then create something similar for your Loved Bible.
- Read a children’s book: Don’t be embarrassed to read a children’s book summarizing the meta narrative of the Bible: The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments by Marty Machowski
- Do a study together: Seamless by Angie Smith or Amen by The Daily Grace Co.
CONVERSATION STARTER: The entire book is about Jesus. We’ll discuss this more in the “Who is Jesus?” Field Note. But check out this blog post: Every book of the Bible is about Jesus. Use any of the suggestions and add some to a Loved Bible.
LOVE A BIBLE: The Bible tells us how the Creator made all things (Genesis 1:1), sustains all things, (Hebrews 1:3), and is carrying his creation to its ultimate destiny—full re-creation (Revelation 21:3-5). Look up each Scripture verse, talk about it, and add a note.
GO DEEPER: Depending on your relationship, you could use these conversation starters:
- Was Jesus created?
- Talk about re-creation. Many people think the ‘end’ is about heaven. Talk about the idea of a new earth. Learn more from Desiring God and Bible Project.
LOVE A BIBLE: Explore the Table of Contents. Spend some time simply discussing and reviewing the Table of Contents of your Bible. Use this blog post to guide your discussion, and get ideas to highlight the Table of Contents according to literary genres.
LOVE A BIBLE: Look up each Scripture verse: Psalm 12:6, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16
Look up the definition of “perfect” in a dictionary. Write the definition next to Psalm 12:6.
TRUTHS TO REMEMBER
Truth 1: The Bible is sufficient to lead us to Christ.
LOVE A BIBLE:
- Look up and highlight 2 Timothy 3:15,17.
- During your time together, break down the statement “The Bible is sufficient to lead us to Christ.” For example, what does “sufficient” mean? (Sufficient: enough, adequate, ample, plentiful.) So another way to say this sentence: “The Bible is enough to lead us to Christ.”
- Discuss this statement: The Bible provides all that we need to 1). Understand who God is, 2). Understand who we are in relation to him, and 3). Understand how he made us to live in this world he created.
CONVERSATION STARTER: What does this mean in our current culture and for decisions we’re making here and now? The Bible was sufficient for back then, but is it still today?
The Bible is God’s Word, and because God is all-knowing and his presence has no bounds, his Word transcends time and culture. It was enough then, is enough now, and will continue to be enough.
Everything we need to know about how to live in the world God created is found in Scripture. No, it won’t tell you how to restore your hard drive or roast delicious veggies, but the principles for living and growing in faith are found in its pages. The Bible tells us it’s “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), which means God uses its words to speak to our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit clarifies God’s perfect will. As we read the Bible, study it in its context, and discuss it with other maturing Christians, the Holy Spirit helps us how we ought to think and live.
CONVERSATION STARTER: What are you currently experiencing and wondering if/how the Bible addresses it?
Open up a discussion with your disciple or group. Remember, the Bible is sufficient to lead us to Christ. It may not answer all of life’s questions. This article by Paul David Tripp helps to explain that the Bible is not an encyclopedia. And it may not specifically say who to marry, if you should buy that new house, or what college to attend, and yet its principles apply to all of life.
- Discuss and make a list of ideas for the question above.
- Read The Bible is not an Encyclopedia and discuss.
- Share a practical example: Consider ‘How do we use social media?’ The book of Proverbs alone has 150 references to the lips, tongue, and our speech. Look up some passages on speech: Proverbs 12:22, James 3:1-12, Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 27:2, Proverbs 28:23. Consider how we’re also Christ’s ambassadors by looking up 2 Corinthians 5:20 and reading this short post from Paul Tripp. Look up ‘ambassador’ in the dictionary and write it next to the passage. When we live in light of what it means to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ, it will transform the way we use social media platforms.
“Many Christians try to handle the Bible as if it was God’s great encyclopedia — a topical index of human problems and divine solutions.”Paul David Tripp
Truth 2: The Bible is authoritative.
“The authority of any particular instruction flows from the authority of the person giving it. Whether it comes from a parent, coach, friend, boss, or stranger largely impacts how much weight it carries. Scripture is the authority over every person and every aspect of life because it is breathed out by God. Every word is valuable and without mistake.”Mary Wiley, Everyday Theology, p. 12
LOVE A BIBLE: Look up 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and highlight it.
- Define authority.
- Where do you look for authority? What might you do if your employer asks you to do something that goes against your conscience?
- Does it feel offensive to you that God is your authority? Have you had encounters with others who find it offensive?
- When the Bible is authoritative, it means “every area of our lives is being brought under the control of the Word of God.” – For example: your relationships, your work, your money/taxes, your parenting, your body. Talk about which of those areas where you want to be your own authority.
This Scripture – 2 Timothy 3:16 – highlights how the Word of God (the Bible) is profitable (useful).
LOVE A BIBLE: Open to 2 Timothy 3:16 and highlight or underline it.
Then add a note: What is the Bible useful for? Think of a path, leading toward true life:
- Teaching: the Bible shows us the path to life.
- Reproof: the Bible shows us when we’ve drifted off the path.
- Correction: the Bible shows us how to get back on the path.
- Training in Righteousness: the Bible strengthens our resolve to stay on the path.
CONVERSATION STARTER: Use 2 Timothy 3:16 as a springboard for deeper conversations within your discipling relationships. Over the next week, journal and share the answers to these questions together: “How is God’s Word accomplishing these things in your life?”
- What is God’s Word teaching you?
- How is God’s Word rebuking you?
- How is God’s Word correcting you?
- How is God’s Word teaching you how to live in righteousness?
Truth 3: The Bible is without error.
LOVE A BIBLE:
- Look up Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 (read and highlight).
- Look up John 17:17 and highlight. Add a note: Since God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2) and all Scripture is “God-Breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), he would cease to be God if he breathed out errors.
- In other words, “because there is no hint of falsehood or error in God, neither does the Bible contain such errors” (Geoff Ashley).
Truth 4: The Bible is the Christian’s joy and delight.
LOVE A BIBLE:
- Define delight. A dictionary might be helpful.
- In Psalm 119, the word ‘delight’ is used 10 times, referring to the psalmist’s feelings about the ways of God’s Law.
- Highlight ‘delight’ in these verses: 14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, & 174 and write a sticky note with the ‘delight’ definition.
CONVERSATION STARTER: Now Read Psalm 1. Highlight verse 2 and think of the answers to the following blanks. “But his delight is in ____________, and on ____________ he meditates day and night.”
- What is it that you’re delighting in?
- What are you taking joy from?
- What are you meditating on?
- What are you giving your thoughts to day and night?
(discussion questions adapted from Jen Wilkin, TVC Psalms Study)
PRAY: Delighting in God’s law will change your taste for sin.
Look at what the Psalmist writes is Psalm 119:103-104. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” Look back at Psalm 1:1-2. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
The Psalmist is able to walk in the ways of the righteous because God’s law is sweeter than the ways of the wicked. God’s law changed the psalmist! Our tastes are changed by God’s Word. Sin is no longer sweet.
“Knowing and loving God’s Word is a result of knowing and loving God, and knowing and loving God is a result of knowing and loving God’s Word.
The psalmist rejoiced in God’s Word, not because it was his duty to obey, but because it was his privilege to do so. We don’t normally think of instructions as worthy of delight. Yet rules and instructions are given to protect, guide, and teach.
God’s statutes are worthy of our delight because they reveal His love for us and His desire that we flourish as His children. Every rebuke, instruction, and promise in Scripture is for our good and is worth treasuring.”Mary Wiley, Everyday Theology
As you finish Foundation 1, “What is the Bible?” pray that God would create a desire in you for his Word. Pray that you would not view it as a duty to obey, but a privilege and a delight. Pray for a hunger to truly feast on Scripture.
- Listen: How to Read the Bible “Knowing Faith” podcast
- Watch: How to Read the Bible “Bible Project” video
- Watch: Know Your Bible forum by The Village Church (This is an excellent discussion explaining the steps of comprehension, interpretation and application to help you in your ability to learn and grow in biblical literacy.)
- Understand more about how the Bible was put together.
- Does God still speak today? Listen to J.D. Greear or John Piper explain.
- Want to grow in delighting in the Word of God? How to Eat Your Bible by Nate Pickowicz is a short and simple resource to help you get started.