Eight Benefits To Sermon/Text Based Bible Studies
The elders and I were discussing what to do about Bible Studies at Eagle Heights and we had come to somewhat of a standstill, at least until I asked, “Are all of you sure that Sermon Based Bible Studies is the direction you want to go?” To which Lonnie responded, “It is if you want anyone to remember your sermons on Sunday Morning.”
I’m sure Lonnie didn’t mean it quite the way it sounds and no matter how he meant it, he is right. It doesn’t matter who you or I listen to, the reality is that optimally we will only retain about 15 to 20% of what we hear, and that might be a stretch. But what kind of difference would it make if the text that I preached about was also the text the rest of the church was both studying and discussing? My guess is that the retention rate of a text and the level of being engaged would go up substantially. But the elders and I believe that there could be multiple benefits to the sermon/text based Bible Studies and that is why we are excited about what it could mean for the people of Eagle Heights.
Here are some of the potential benefits:
- Increased Attentiveness During Sermons – I always payed more attention in class when I knew there was going to be a test over the material we were coveing. It only makes sense that people would pay more attention to the sermon if they knew they were going to discuss it later.
- Increased Note Taking – Interacting with material causes people to better retain and process information for later discussion.
- Spirited Discussion – I would hope that at some point the sermon that I spent hours and hours preparing would make its way into the conversations of church members, friends and families. I’m a realistic man though and I know that there are many reasons that sermons get buried in the minds of people. But if the sermon content was the same as the Bible Study content, it would help people engage in edifying discussion that has already been initiated by the sermon.
- Church-wide Focus and Unity – I think this one is as important as any benefit because there is just something special about unity and togetherness in the local body of Christ. Especially when that unity centers on studying and applying God’s Holy Word. Instead of our Bible Studies being every group to themselves, we would all be in the same book at the same time, thinking about the same thing.
- Bible Focus – It is hard to argue with the thought that it is better to study one thing and study it well rather than study a lot of things that are never studied in-depth. If something gets covered but only superficially, then it may never sink in enough to really change our lives. A hard but short rain does not nourish the ground like a slow and soaking rain. The Bible needs to soak our souls so it can grow the fruit that the Spirit produces.
- Application – One of the hardest things I do from week to week in sermon preparation is deciding what not to say. I cut a lot of explanation, thoughts and application for the sake of time and one of the biggest losers in sermon trimming is application. But if the background and big idea of a text was taken care of in the sermon, the Bible Study Groups could really focus on what that means for the lives that we live in Christ.
- Finding Leaders – We have some great Bible Study leaders at Eagle Heights, but if we are going to grow we have to have more groups which will require more leaders. However, if we go to sermon/text based groups, leaders won’t have to come up with their own study, just be humble facilitators who listen well and ask good questions. I know some of our leaders love the in-depth study in getting ready for Sunday Morning, but some people don’t feel qualified for this very reason. But if some of the hard work is taken care of during the preaching of the sermon, it stands to reason that more people can lead because they don’t have to be completely responsible for putting together their own personal sermon.
- Discussion Driven Not Lecture Driven – Because a lot of the didactic work will be taken care of in the sermon on Sunday Morning, this will give groups more opportunity to converse and share as opposed to just sitting and listening. It probably isn’t helpful to sit through one sermon in Bible Study only to hear a second sermon a few minutes later when we gather together corporately. Good Bible Study must have teaching, but if that is taken care of in the sermon, then learning can come from conversation instead of lecture.
I’m sure there are other reasons and maybe even better reasons as to why sermon/text based Bible Studies could really benefit Eagle Heights. If you think of other benefits, feel free to post them. May God bless our unified effort to love His word as the people of Eagle Heights.