How I Study the Bible + My Church Background

Before I even start to explain how I study my Bible, I thought it was only fair that I explain my church background, from the start.

How To Study The Bible

I grew up in an Episcopal church. This was your classic old church with old pews and hymns and the whole shabang. However, I sort of saw this as a checkmark in our weekly routine. I was a child, after all, so I didn't really have a choice. I didn't learn much about Jesus' story, other than the basics.

We moved cities when I was eight which meant finding a new church. As a family, we tried to find an Episcopal church that fit our needs but never really found a 'good' one. So then we sort of fell off the bandwagon (Dear mom and dad, I get it. Life gets in the way! I don't blame you!). Obviously, I was still a kid, so it's not like I was begging to go to church anyway.

I began going to a youth group in when I was a little older, but it was definitely due to the social aspect. It was the cool thing to do (pizza and rock climbing?! yes plz). I also went to a handful of church camps during my younger summers, also for social reasons. However, ironically, this was the first time I remember feeling the presence of Jesus in my life. He truly shows himself when you don't expect it!

In high school, I really didn't do much of anything religious, and even when looking at colleges and deciding on Texas Christian University for my next four years, religion wasn't really a deciding factor.

But when I got to college, things started changing. I had never been surrounded by so many Christians in my life. My friends from high school were of all different religions, so this was a whole new experience. I joined a sorority that was full of awesome, God-fearing Christians and I wanted to try out the whole Christian thing again with these girls.

I started going to Bible studies and youth groups and such with my sorority sisters and it was great! But looking back on it, I was still doing it as a social thing. It felt like the right thing to do, to fit in with my sorority. And guess what: I fell off the wagon again.

How To Study The Bible

Fast-forward to senior year (aka now). I genuinely don't know what got me "back on the wagon." One of my very best friends suggested to all of our friends to watch a specific sermon series from a local church and I loved it. I wanted more. So we started going to that. Then we started going to church (you know, on Sundays). I was still hungry for more. I knew the best way to do that was through the Bible, so that's just what I did.

Obviously, I've read the Bible before. I've even owned two or three over the years but mine was currently gathering dust on a shelf in my bedroom. I think it was fear holding me back. What if I did it wrong? What if I interpret something incorrectly? It's funny looking back at those fears now because I realize that God totally leads you to what you need to know. You might not realize it at the time, but maybe a few days later something happens in your life and you're like, dang I remember reading a passage about this! It's a pretty cool feeling and it definitely leads you to want more.

So what did I do first? I probably went to Pinterest. That's usually my immediate reaction when I start something new. But I didn't really love what I was reading. I realized I wanted something physical, so I could get off technology and really dive into the Bible without notifications distracting me. So I went to my favorite faith resource, She Reads Truth. I've followed them on Instagram and really love how they share the word, so I figured it was time to buy a little somethin'. I purchased Open Your Bible because that's exactly what I needed to do. It's essentially a Bible study for those who don't know where to start. The book also includes some group work if you want to study it with a group of women!

How To Study The Bible

I did Open Your Bible for a few weeks until I had a weird thought: I'd been flipping around from (biblical) book to book and verse to verse, I had basically no context of what was going on in the verses I was reading. I wanted to feel immersed in the story and know what was going on around prophets, Jesus and the disciples. I'm not saying the She Reads Truth was bad (it was good), I just wanted a little something else at the moment.

So, that's when I started reading the New Testament from the beginning. I had recently discovered Soul Scripts (probably on Pinterest, tbh) and was intrigued. She had posted a video on how she studies the Bible and I found it really interesting. I've already figured out that when I highlight textbooks/articles for school, I retain them better, so why not do that with the most important book, too? The only problem was that my Bible had almost no room to write in (BUMMER) but I did a little research and found a journaling Bible in my favorite translation (NIV) that looked perfect. It was right around Christmas so I put in on my wishlist and was so excited when it was under the tree!

How To Study The Bible

The great part about the Soul Scripts method is that there's no need for anything fancy. She jokes about using some random pen she found lying around the house, but I prefer to use the Papermate InkJoy pens because they're "no-smear" (I tend to drag my hand across pages!). I also bought some Bible highlighters because they don't bleed through! (You could also buy any gel highlighters- like these) A weird thing that I specifically do is use two Bibles. That's right people, two. Why? Remember that Bible I talked about above, the one that was gathering dust? Well that Bible is a study Bible which means it explains so much of what's going on, cross-references, and life connections, in the footnotes. I didn't want to lose this awesome resource, so I decided, why not use both? Every morning I crack open both Bibles and lay them out next to each other. I don't want to totally steal Jordan from Soul Scripts' thunder so you can go watch her video here about the "brighten your Bible study" method, but I'll explain what I do when I read the Bible!

How To Study The Bible

1. Eliminate Distractions
I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you how distracting our phones are. I especially did not want this distraction during my quiet time, so every morning I'll put my phone on Do Not Disturb so I won't get distracted by notifications and whatnot. I also tried listening to worship music during this time, but I found that even that was too distracting for me. I realized that quiet time needed to be exactly that: quiet.

2. Begin at the Beginning
In one of Jordan's posts, she suggests starting at the beginning. I loved this idea because like I mentioned above, I really wanted to know the context of what I was reading. Like most people, I was overwhelmed by the thought of starting with the Old Testament, so I opted to start with Matthew, at the beginning of the New Testament.

3. Take Yo' Time
I never set a time limit or even a chapter limit on my reading. This stemmed from a blog post I read once (dang, I can't remember what it was though) that said to only read the Bible until you get three takeaways. The reasoning behind this is to not force yourself to read too much. I began with this method (it's so much less overwhelming) but now I've begun reading more. I usually stop when I get to the point where I can tell I'm getting distracted by my own thoughts or when I realize I'm simply skimming the page. For me, this is about 20-30 minutes. For you, it might be more, it might be less!

4. Make It Yours
It's super easy to get caught up in the beautiful Bible journaling on Pinterest or doing things "just right." I realized that that's absolutely not the point of reading the Bible. You're there to connect with God. I finally let go of perfectionism and did whatever I felt was right. I highlight verses that mean something to me. I make notes about things relevant to my life. It's so much more freeing when you connect the word with yourself. I know a lot of people love doing a color-coded Bible study, where a certain color of highlighter or pen means something, but I realized that didn't work for me, so I just use whatever color I feel. This way, I'm thinking way less about the physical aspect of studying and more about the words on the page.

5. Pray
Don't forget that reading the Bible is one way to connect with God. Prayer is essential in this process whether you do it before, during, or after your study! Prayer doesn't just have to be asking God for something. You can chit chat with him about your day or about your worries or anything really. God wants a relationship with you!

"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him, he also hears their cry and saves them."
Psalm 145: 18-19

My most recent Bible study "favorite" is watching the sermon series on the book of Mark from my home church back in Kansas City! Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton preaches from the Holy Land and does an amazing job of combining history and theology in an easily ingestible way. If you're in the KC area and are looking for a new church home I cannot stress how amazing Church of the Resurrection is. I don't want this post to get too controversial by any means, but my favorite part about COR is how welcoming and loving they are of everyone. They truly embody what Jesus was all about and I love it! (P.S. while they are a "mega church" they love each an every member just as much as a tiny neighborhood chapel) Okay, that's enough promoting for now!

I'm always looking for ways to improve my Bible study! In fact, I just ordered this book and can't wait to see how it works for me! But I'm curious about y'all! How do you read God's word? Were you as scared as I was! Drop me a comment below or DM me on Instagram to talk more! I hope y'all have an amazing week, Happy Almost Easter!

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