Bible study (Christian)
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In Christianity, Bible study is the study of the Bible by ordinary people as a personal religious or spiritual practice. Some denominations may call this devotion or devotional acts; however in other denominations devotion has other meanings. Bible study in this sense is distinct from biblical studies, which is a formal academic discipline.
Personal Bible study
In Evangelical Protestantism, the time set aside to engage in personal Bible study and prayer is sometimes informally called a Quiet Time. In other traditions personal Bible study is referred to as "devotions". Catholic devotions and Anglican devotions both employ the Lectio Divina method of Bible reading.
Christians of all denominations may use Study Bibles and Bible Reading notes to assist them in their personal Bible studies. However, the use of such aids is discouraged in many churches, which advocate the simple reading of passages from the Bible. In some cases, the practice of reading through the entire Bible in a year is followed, this usually requires readings each day from both the Old and New Testament. This practice, however, has been widely criticised on the basis that the understanding gained of each specific passage is too vague.
The association of Bible study and prayer is an important one. Christians do not merely study the Bible as an academic discipline, but with the desire to know God better. Therefore, they frequently pray that God will give them understanding of the passage being studied. They also consider it necessary to consider what they read with an attitude of respect, rather than the critical attitude which is frequently followed in formal study. To them, the Bible is not just a sacred book, but is the very Word of God, that is, a message from God which has direct relevance to their daily lives.
Inductive Bible study
Inductive Bible study is a means of studying and exegeting a biblical passage. Richard Krejcir describes it terms of "interviewing a passage" without preconceptions or agendas. Inductive Bible study involves examining the ideas and words of the text, which leads to the meanings and then the interpretations, which in turn lead the reader to conclusions and applications. In inductive study, the reader will read a passage and then ask questions of how they personally interpret the verse(s). These questions can range from what the verse(s) literally means to how it applies to the believer's present personal circumstances. The purpose of these questions is to go deep enough into the text to extract the meaning and then to apply that gained knowledge to life.
Exegetical Bible study
In this type of study, also goes beyond the surface value of the text. However, the purpose is not so much for personal application as gaining information. Exegetical study is used most often by pastors, theologians, writers, professors, and church leaders in order to prepare for sharing lessons with others. It is often categorized as advanced Bible study and is meant to extract the ideas found in the text for the primary purpose of teaching.
Bible study groups within congregations are sometimes known as cell groups, though many different names exist. The Bible is often studied in informal small groups, and groups within parachurch organizations. During these study times, groups will set their main topic to be biblical studies. Though there may exist some form of worship and prayer, the purpose of Bible study is to collectively grasp an understanding of God through His Word. These groups become small communities often sharing this personal journey to discovering the meaning of the passage.
Some Churches encourage the formation of small groups while others form casually or due to shared interest or common circumstances (such as a singles small group or a newly wed couple group). These groups range from young children, normally middle school and up led by an adult, to elderly people. These groups can even interact with other small groups.
In recent years many successful church growth attribute the effectiveness of cell groups, groups can be formed based on age group e.g. youth, young adults etc., or by profile –singles, married couples, by gender male or female homogeneous grouping.