Thursday, February 14, 2008

African Bible Study

Last night I facilitated a Lenten Bible Study for a group of Episcopalian laity and clergy using an adapted version of African Bible Study. The topic was "How Anglicans Read the Bible" with the stipulation that people wanted to work in groups. I gave the group of about thirty five people a handout with the method and three different translations of Matthew 4:1-11 (New KJV, The Message and the NRSV with notes on textual variants and the Greek text).

AFRICAN BIBLE STUDY
(Should take 30-40 minutes)
This Bible Study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African."

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 One individual reads passages slowly.

2 Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention. (1 minute)

3 Each shares the word or phrase around the group. (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION)

4 Another person reads the passage slowly (from a different translation, if possible.)

5 Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today. (1 minute)

6 Each shares. (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION)

7 Passage is read a third time (another reader and translation, if possible.)

8 Each person names or writes: "From what I've heard and shared, what do I believe God wants me to do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way? (5 minutes)

9 Each shares their answer. (5-10 minutes, NO DISCUSSION)

10 Each prays for the person on their right, naming what was shared in other steps. (5 minutes)

Close with the Lord's Prayer and SILENCE

I tweaked #5 by inviting consideration of other matters around the passage: context supplying meaning; other applications of the passage with which they might be familiar. And in my introductory remarks I stressed #8, the application, as the most important part of the whole approach.

Five groups of seven people worked diligently side by side out loud in a church hall for about 45 minutes. And at the end two people asked for extra handouts to take back to their parishes.

If someone came for a lecture they would be disappointed. In that case, I defer to the stipulation. The benefits of this approach are group ownership of the process and the absence of experts (me) except for the introduction. Individuals and groups own the exercise and hear each others' voices doing Anglican Bible Study.

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