11 May 2012

Inductive Bible Study, Part 1: Preparation

Dear Lissy,
You're interested in inductive Bible study, so I'm going to give you a challenge:  stop reading this letter and read Psalms 119 first. The first three verses are a capsule view of the rest of the chapter.  List on a separate sheet or mark these items as you read:
  • What behavior does the Psalmist commit to regarding God's Word? (I used an up arrow) 
  • What help(grace!) does he need or ask from God regarding his statutes and laws?( I used a down arrow)
  • What reward has he received or anticipate from God and His Word? (I used a star) What punishment does he anticipate for those who oppose God's Word? (I used an x)
Are you done?  Great!  If you skipped it, naughty girl!  Ezra's beautiful psalm explains far better than I can why I take the time for inductive Bible study.  Your oldest brother and I will be starting his first study over the summer, and I know it will be a rewarding time for us both.  I hope by documenting this the first time teaching it, I can come back and edit these letters so that you'll have a resource to go back to if and when you decide to do one on your own.  Let's get started. . .

1.  Print out two copies of the book of the Bible you are going to study.  
  • One should be printed triple-spaced, 8-1/2 x 11.  These are worksheets and will get extensively marked up. Punch them with a standard 3-hole punch and place them in a notebook.
One of my worksheets from Colossians 1 after marking.
  • The other copy should be printed "flat" without any chapter or verse numbers or breaks  OR a paragraph-style Bible can be downloaded to a reader.  There currently aren't any flat PDF's available -- you'll have to do the cut and paste work yourself or use your Bible study program.  The study begins by reading through the entire book several times in a single sitting.  You will continue to read through the book in a single sitting several times a week throughout the study to keep the "big picture."  This copy should fit easily into a handbag or tuck into the front pocket of the notebook.  Have a little fun with the cover, and you'll be more likely to pick it up again and again.
I put my manuscript, or "flat" copy into a half-sized kraft envelope.  A
booklet would get scrunched up in my purse.
"Flat" Colossians:  Print a copy with no chapter or verse divisions.

2.  Download or bookmark a Bible with search and study features.  This will be your working copy of the Word while you're going through the study.  It's just too clunky and time consuming trying to go back and forth with a paper copy of the Bible and various study guides. Please ask Daddy or your pastor for recommendations if you're downloading commentaries so you can use the very best.

3.  For your first couple of  times through an inductive study on your own, use a study guide.   I choose to use Sunergos studies with teenagers (here's a free sample chapter!) because they are inclusive, meaning all study materials are printed in the workbook. 
By their very nature, inductive studies are "strong meat". They are food for mature, obedient believers only.  Inductive study is much like hunting:  it takes skill (and a few specialized tools) to place a succulent venison strap on the dinner table.  Guided studies are more like the "half a cow special" from the local butcher.  The meat is familiar, and comes wrapped and labeled in neat dinner-sized packages.  Most of the hard parts (bones, gristle, etc.) have been trimmed away.
R.A. Torrey's classic, How To Study The Bible is available free or quite inexpensively when you're ready to venture on your first solo study. 

4.  Assemble all the fun goodies into a pencil box or pouch!  
I'm geeking out over this lovely case from Jet Pens
  • Fine point pen.  I prefer blue to stand out from the printed text
  • Pencils and a pencil sharpener
  • Good eraser
  • Set of erasable colored pencils or erasable gel pens. 
  • Set of highlighters in at least 4 colors
  • Transparent ruler
  • Spiral bound, 3 hole punched, college ruled notebook
  • Set of sticky notes that have both the flag and 2 x 3" size.
5.  Choose a time and place that you can work undisturbed for 45 minutes to an hour each day.  I like to use the hour after lunch when it's the hottest and we're all resting.  Early morning or evenings worked far better when you were toddlers.

The rewards of inductive Bible study as a Christian woman are largely internal.  I'll probably never have an opportunity to share the study itself.  While that may seem discouraging, the "root work" being done far surpasses any lectures I could share.
" Scripture teaches clearly that the living and active Word matures us, transforms us, accomplishes what it intends, increases our wisdom, and bears the fruit of right actions. There is no deficit in the ministry of the Word. Be a good student. Read repetitively and in context, line by line. Keep the God of the gospel at the center of your study. Strive for comprehension before interpretation. Give application ample time to emerge from a passage. Watch ignorance flee and transformation flourish. Study the Word. Master it, master it." ~ Jen Wilkin
Study hard!

P.S.  Don't miss all of our favorite tools for study available at the Shop Dear Lissy Amazon store!

Inductive Bible Study, Part 1: Preparation
Inductive Bible Study, Part 2: Read
Inductive Bible Study, Part 3: Seeking the Context
Inductive Bible Study, Part 4: Book Summary Key
Inductive Bible Study, Part 5: The Choice
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6a: Chapter Analysis
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6b:  Identifying Key Words
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6C: Finding the 3C's
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6D: It's About Time
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6E: Keep Digging
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6F: Word Studies
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6G: Considering Context
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6H: Application Brings Transformation 
Inductive Bible Study, Part 7: Wrap It Up!

Linked up at:  Raising HomemakersGood Morning GirlsWomen Living Well, and Works for Me Wednesday


  1. Good morning! I am visiting from GMG's Women in the Word Wednesday! Wonderful post :) What a fascinating look at Inductive Bible Study, I never knew about that until today. It looks very cool and helpful!


  2. love the inductive study pictured! It inspired me to get out my pencils and dig deep :).

  3. Thank you so much for this series! It's such a blessing for me and my family. Where do you print out your triple-spaced Scripture worksheets? I fear I'll have to type out all my Scripture, word by word, in order to create worksheets like what you've pictured here. Any guidance would be GREATLY appreciated!!! Thank you again for all the work you put into this series :)

    1. I just posted a step-by-step of how I print out the worksheets, but I always look here first. http://www.sunergosbible.org/download2.htm I'll try to have my computer nerd son do a tutorial with screenshots when he has a few free minutes, too.

  4. 1. Download E-Sword free.
    2. On the top drop-down menu in the main screen, the second tab from the left is "Bible"
    3. Choose "Copy Verses" (about 2/3 of the way down)
    4. Enter the verses you wish to copy at the top of the pop-out.
    5. Choose format 7 from the buttons on the far left.
    6. You should see the Bible passage with no verse or chapter divisions in the window.
    7. Click on the copy button at the top right of the pop-out.
    8. Open your word processor and paste.
    9. Highlight the entire portion.
    10. Click on Format > Line > Spacing and choose 3.0.

    All done! Write me back if any of these aren't clear or don't work for you. Thanks for taking the time to drop a note :-)

  5. Thank you so much!!!! I appreciate it more than you know!

  6. Couldn't help but notice some Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens in your case there... Excellent choice! :D

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