When it comes to the Word of God, many members of the church act like starling chicks! They simply sit in the ‘nest’ waiting for the teacher to bring the ‘worm’ each Sunday or through the Daily Bible reading note. Either through ignorance or laziness the assumption is made that only the teacher can understand the Bible so there is no point in anyone else trying to read the Bible by themselves.

The reformers rejoiced in the gift to the church of the pastor / teacher. They determined that everyone should be taught the Word and everything should be done according to the word of God. However they also purposed that everyone should have access to and be able to read the word of God for themselves too. Our danger today is that in encouraging total dependence on the teacher, we are effectively creating ‘a priesthood of the preacher’!

The work of a teacher is not simply to tell them ‘what’ but to show them ‘how’ too. Observation in teaching is important but limited if not reinforced by guided learning. Watching a talented practitioner of sport or music will produce little progress till it is followed by a personal lesson and practice! In a similar way listening to someone teaching from the Bible needs to be complemented by method and guided practice if the hearers are going to be enabled to imitate what the teacher has done. ‘Hearing the Word’ has been devised to help the teacher meet that need.

In the realm of art or sport there are basic principles that enable good practice. These are the same for and need to be adhered to by the expert or the beginner. (The role of a teacher or coach at any level is to highlight these and ensure they are put into practice.) The same is true of reading the Bible. ‘Hearing the Word’ identifies main principles in bible reading that are as applicable to the minister in their study as the enquirer on the fringe of the church. It is therefore suitable for the whole church as instruction for those new to Bible reading or as a reminder of good practice for the ‘hardened’ bible student!

‘Hearing the Word’, The Introduction’ is a way of introducing these principles to the wider church membership.

The aim - to enable ALL who read the Bible to “handle the word of Truth correctly” (2Timothy 2:15).

The objectives

  • To provide a resource for the ministry of pastor / teacher
  • To show simply the basic principles involved in Bible exegesis
  • To give a memorable model for Bible study
  • To present a course that would be suitable as instruction for those new to Bible reading or as a reminder of good practice for the ‘hardened’ bible student!
  • To provide an ‘ add water’ resource, requiring little preparation.

The materials

A Work Book: This contains all the teaching on the principles with accompanying explorations of the text and spaces to record responses.

A Leader’s Guide: This contains the same material, layout, and page numbers as the Course Book. It also has additional pages with instructions for group work, and suggested outcomes from Explorations. It is comprehensive and should enable people who are competent leaders but have minimal biblical background of their own, to lead a group through the course with ease.

A PowerPoint: This is an accompaniment to the explorations and may be useful in a large gathering with many groups or in a house group to enable the leader to participate as well.

The format

After an introductory section on approaching the Bible, the course works through these four stages, using the passage Mark 10.35-45, and a Teach, Try, Talk format:

TEACH: The Course Leader reads over the material in the Course Book with the participants. (The material is comprehensive and can stand alone.)

TRY: The participants engage in an Exploration as individuals, writing their findings in their Course Book.

TALK: Responses are then discussed in small groups, with the leader contributing the answers given in the Leader’s Guide.

The use

1) A large gathering -
A church leader can split a large gathering into small groups and go through the Teaching in the booklet, before encouraging people to Try it out. Talk back would occur at the plenary as they receive and comment on the groups’ findings.

2) Small groups
A church leader can gather house group leaders together and go through it with them before delegating to them to work through it with their groups.

The timing

The course may be run in various ways -
    1) As a whole (c 4hrs)
        eg Church weekend. Day conference.
   2) In four sessions of one hour each
        eg Midweek meeting, house group, ‘Evening service’

The follow on

Once grasped the model may be used by groups and individuals and applied to any passage in Scripture.

There are booklets produced with approx 7 Bible studies each. Background information is given - (historical, religious geographical, sociological etc).

For each study there is a Workbook and a Leader's guide with some suggested answers.

Studies available are : Luke’s Gospel 1-2; 2-4; 4-6; 6; 7-8; 8-9; 9-10
Matthew 1-2
Psalms 1 & 11