Inductive Bible Study Method – A Guide
If you’ve been a part of Bible studies in a church, small group, or individual setting, you may have come across the inductive Bible study method. The Inductive study process requires figuring out how to draw out, or extract the information what a text is actually saying in an objective, systematic way. There are many advantages to using the inductive study method throughout your class. If you haven’t ever experienced this study method, you may need some help in determining what the Bible study method actually means, and why it is an effective method for getting deeper with your material. An Inductive Bible Study Worksheet can also be downloaded on the internet.
Below, you’ll find the steps to the inductive study process:
1. Define any words you do not understand
2. Gain perspective on the background. Who is the author? What is the time frame? Where (both time, and geographical setting) does it take place? Who is the audience?
3. What discussion goes before the passage?
4. Paragraph word or phrase
5. What themes can you find in the paragraph you are currently studying?
6. Do you have an initial observations to the text, or going deeper…the meaning behind it?
7. What is the key center of the segment? What is its relationship to each of the paragraphs?
8. After analysing the above, do you have any additional study observations? Has there been anything new that light has been shed on?
9. Summary statements, observations or conclusions of the text. If you are participating in a Bible study with other individuals, did their understanding of the text, its meaning, or any other piece of analysis, match up with the understanding that you have? If not, it can be very helpful (gaining perspective) to learn why they believe the text is saying what it is. Remember, the Bible can have thousands of different interpretations, and your view is only one of them!
10. What applications can be drawn from this segment that applies to me, the church, or the culture of our day? In other words, realize that the text was written thousands of years ago, in a period of time that was dramatically different than the 21st century. Different cultures, accepted norms, standards of living, value systems, understandings of science and medicine…the list goes on and on.
The Inductive Study Process can tremendously benefit study participants in gaining a new perspective on Biblical texts. One of the more popular inductive studies is the New Inductive Study by Kay Arthur.
Early on in my own faith, I tended to look at the Bible as cut and dry. If it said something, it was a literal translation that didn’t change in meaning, no matter what period of time if happened to be written in. However, since then, I have come to the realization that the authors of the Bible were influenced tremendously by their surrounding environment. While there is no doubt that the majority of the Bible is unshakable, undeniable truth (i.e. the words that Jesus spoke, the 10 commandments, the story of the Resurrection), it is also an undeniable fact that the each person that had the opportunity to contribute to our faith book, lived in times that were very different than ours. How else can we reconcile that fact that the Bible has some pretty strange stuff in it. For example, the NLT Bible says:
You must not wear clothing made of wool and linen woven together.
- Deuteronomy 22:11
Many people may not even know this fact. However, when you use the inductive study method, you would find out that there is a story behind it. To be more specific, historians believe that this law, written in the time of Jacob, theorizes that pagans traditionally wore clothing made of mixed wool and linen. As a result, a rule was established for Israelites, not to have clothing made of wool and linen, as a means to set themselves apart from other tribes of the time.
Makes perfect sense once you dig a little deeper into the Word, doesn’t it? It takes something that sounds crazy (and gets a lot of criticism from non-Christians), and turns it into something that is actually pretty cool!
In closing, I encourage you to not take the text of the Bible at face value. There is so much more depth to this amazing book, and in order to explore your faith and grow deeper, you must make a commitment to understand the ins and outs of why the Bible says what it does…especially in situations like mixed fabrics of clothing!