Usually, the time actually available for studying the Bible is substantially less than an hour. By the time all the students arrive - which may happen over ten or fifteen minutes - and you have a bit of time to see how everyone's week is going, and you share some of the other opportunities you want students to be able to take advantage of, there seems to be very little time left to really get into the content of the Bible! I usually expect Bible studies to have between 20 and 40 minutes to grapple with a passage from the Bible.
Bible studies at uni are meant to be challenging. They are meant to push students to a deeper understanding of the Lord Jesus, a greater passion for him, and a fuller devotion to his service. But how exactly do you do that when you might only have half an hour for Bible study? Here are some of my thoughts.
1. Know where you're going.
2. Choose good questions.
In my experience in the university context, choosing three to five high-quality questions that will make students think hard and provide food for discussion is much better than asking twelve questions and hoping that you can rush through them. I think this highlights the importance of good preparation: instead of asking about everything in the passage, I want to identify the key details or observations that illuminate the whole passage when understood correctly.
3. Challenge students to think deeper thoughts.
This means asking for elaboration of one-word answers. It means pushing for a closer examination to see if a person's answer is really what the text says. It means asking hard questions of the text that don't have straightforward answers. It means challenging people to integrate their understanding of the whole of Scripture together in context.
Bible studies that don't challenge members to think are boring Bible studies. I want to help students to think deeper thoughts than they have thought before - and thankfully, that usually means a more enjoyable discussion too.
4. Know when to pause and when to go.
There are many more thoughts about Bible studies I could write about, but I will leave them for another time! What do you think? How do you lead a kick-ass Bible study in half an hour?