Pastor, if you want to maximize your personal Bible study time, I’ve got a simple suggestion for you: verse-by-verse study.
It’s not hard. In fact, you can glean an enormous amount from just five simple steps. Just pick a passage, grab a pen, and follow these procedures:
1. Write a personal paraphrase.
Write out the verse in your own words. Do not use one of the modern paraphrases except to get the idea of how to do it. Stay true to the verse you are paraphrasing, and try to condense rather than expand it.
2. List some questions, answers, and observations.
List any questions you have relating to words, phrases, persons, topics, and doctrines in that verse. Write down any answers you find and also record any observations you make. Mark these as follows:
Q = Question
A = Answer
O = Observations
3. Find cross-references for each verse.
Using the cross-references from your study Bible or from Scripture memory, write down at least one cross-reference for the verse you are studying. Identify the word or phrase you are cross-referencing at the end of this chapter. Use a concordance if you do not have a cross-referenced Bible.
4. Record any insights you get from the verse.
Having thought through the words, phrases, and concepts in the verse, record any insights that you get from them. These could be further observations, words, and names that you have looked up and defined, or any other thought that comes to you. Let your imagination go and be as creative as you can.
5. Write down a brief personal application for each verse.
As you go through the verses, record the devotional thoughts that come to you. Later, when you’re planning a devotional Bible study, you can pick one of those thoughts and develop it further. Or, if a particular verse seems to meet an immediate need, go ahead and write out an application that is possible, practical, personal, and measurable.
My suspicion is that the notes you gather through your personal study time will eventually find their way into a sermon. And that’s okay! That’s a great way to maximize your time in the Word. But the real benefit of verse-by-verse study is your own personal refreshment. If you’re in need of refilling, pick a passage and get going – verse-by-verse.
Until next week,
This article is adapted from Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Church.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.