For a while, I was following the SOAP method. The acronym stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Basically, I'd read a passage, choose a verse that stood out to me, paraphrase it, write down what I thought God was asking me to do with it in my life, and then pray. Though the blog concept never got off the ground, you can see a few of the studies I did using this plan at Bible Study Couple. While the method is a really great overall idea, I found myself getting bored with it after a few weeks, which meant I would put off reading my Bible. And, in the end, any study I'm not doing really isn't working for me.
I came up with my "new" idea just this week. The first inkling came several years ago while I made plans for Advent. I revisited it a few weeks back while I was working on the liturgies for morning and evening prayer, rewriting the words of confession and thanksgiving to make sense for the whole family. I also realized that my daughter really was having trouble understanding the Bible passages we would read to her in the mornings. I haven't liked most of the children's versions of the Bible that I've seen--particularly the fact that they focus on just a few stories and leave out so much of the substance. I'd been trying to read from The Message paraphrase, only Eugene Peterson uses a lot of words and ideas that are still far too advanced for my 4 year old.
This week, I started writing my own paraphrases. I had just begun reading through the book of James for myself and I thought, why not have my daughter learn what I'm learning? Let me tell you, having to take the verses I'm reading and write them in a way she can grasp--it really motivates me to understand what the passage is actually saying! I've been consulting various commentaries, cross referencing, and basically doing all sorts of stuff I almost never do for myself. And because I have a chance to help someone else learn and discover (something I love to do), this is FUN for me.
Now, I recognize that not everybody gets as excited about teaching as I do. We all have different gifts and passions that make the world an exciting place. So, to make this new discovery of mine a little more useful to those of you who wouldn't appreciate paraphrasing text, I thought I'd offer a few ideas that might strike your fancy a bit more.
- Draw, paint, or sculpt a piece of art which uses the main theme of the passage you are studying
- Stitch or scribe a bookmark or wall hanging that includes a verse you are trying to memorize
- Sing a hymn or praise song based on the passage you have read, or write your own
- Make a meal using fruits, grains, or other ingredients referenced in the passage
- Learn to sign a verse or passage in American Sign Language (or the sign language of your country)
- Design a scrapbook page for the verses, or create a whole scrapbook based on the book of the Bible or theme you are studying
- Choreograph a dance expressing the ideas in the passage