Any interest? Easy to set something up for our Green Room; notify Dss Candy if interested.
A Hunger for God’s Word
The following article by Canon Phil Ashey first appeared in the June 14, 2013 edition of the AAC’s Weekly Email Update. Sign up for this free email here.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I want to follow up on the Anglican perspective video on Inductive Bible Study by sharing a bit more about the Bible study that I am now a part of on Monday nights.
We are currently studying the Gospel of John. The difference is that we are not using Bibles with chapter divisions, verses and footnotes. We are using the plain text of the Gospel of John in two versions, ESV and Amplified, printed out on 8.5×11 paper without any chapter or paragraph breaks. We do have numbers for the lines on the left so that we have some way of referencing where we are! But this “manuscript” is simply the text of the Gospel of John itself. This is exactly the way we did ‘manuscript’ studies Bible study “dig-ins” when I was involved in Stanford Christian Fellowship (Inter-Varsity).
We meet in the large basement of a home. There is wonderful hospitality and social interaction prior to the study. We start promptly at 7 pm with a brief introduction of newcomers and prayer. We spend 30 minutes around tables in small groups “reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting” the text we have been assigned to read. The wonderful thing about this manuscript is that you can mark it up, highlight it, circle repeating words, draw lines of connection, and write down observations and questions as much as you want! And we all do. The holy silence while people take the text so seriously and dig in to it is absolutely tangible!
After that first 30 minutes of personal study, we then spend another 30 minutes sharing around the table what we observed and learned. The conversation is deep and rich and lively and leads to further observations, interpretation and application (the three dimensions of inductive Bible study).
By now an hour has gone by. Our host invites the whole group to come back and each person to share for no more that 60-90 seconds one thing that they learned from the text that night. No one has to share – in fact, if you don’t want to share, you can say “pass”. But most people do. Before we begin the sharing we pray for the Holy Spirit (again) to guide us into the truth of this inspired text. Since there are 52 people at this study (even more last week), it takes about 45 minutes for everyone to share.
Think about that: 52 people gathered on a Monday night to spend over two hours in Bible study. And here is another remarkable thing – of those 52 people, I would guess at least 40 were between 18-25 years old! We had people ranging in age from 8 to 78 years old! Through the sharing, we discover how rich and full of “grace and truth” God’s word really is, like a diamond with many facets, each person contributing an observation of one of those facets. At times it feels a bit like popcorn, with one observation provoking another and another.
What strikes me is the deep hunger young people have for the word of God and its practical application to their lives. My three daughters, ages 26, 18 and 15, are also in this study (at different tables, of course!). As a father, I can think of no greater joy than to hear my own children receiving and sharing deep insights from God’s word.
I believe with all my heart that this is a picture of the future we have as Anglicans as a younger generation of leaders rises up, established on the sure foundation of God’s word. We ended with another 30 minutes of prayer for personal needs – and that, too, was deep, fervent and moving. As I head into Provincial meetings of the Anglican Church in North America next week (and for which I bid your prayers), I’ll be thinking of this Bible study and the hope it portends for revival in North America!
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey
Chief Operating and Development Officer, American Anglican Council