Scene One: The “Postmoderns-Only Book Club” gathers together on a Tuesday night. They meet at the sterile, quiet library space, fiction novels in hand as they take their seats at the round table. Jim, the group leader, begins their time together with a discussion of this week’s chapter. “In today’s discussion we come to the main character’s decision to leave his hometown. What does his leaving town mean to you?”
“I think he’s sick of being there and wants something new,” one woman remarks.
“Good analysis,” Jim responds. “What else?”
“I think it means he wants to get away to learn again how to appreciate his hometown in a new way,” a man comments.
“Great answer,” Jim agrees. “Anyone else?”
“I think he’s unsure about where he wants to live so he’s testing the waters,” another woman chimes in.
“That’s a great interpretation, too,” Jim says. “Great work everyone!”
Scene Two: Across town, a Bible study group begins their meeting at the host home. The inviting and warm living room is now filled with finger foods, Bibles, and a community group of people from different backgrounds. They take their seats on the couches and floor. Jason, the group leader, begins their time together with a discussion of this week’s chapter in Romans. “In today’s discussion we see a key section in Chapter 7, verses 13–25. What does this passage mean to you?”
“I think Paul is talking about non-Christians because of the man’s slavery to sin,” one man offers the group.
“Alright, good insight,” Jason says. “What else?”
“I think Paul is talking about Christians because we still struggle with sin now,” another man argues.
“Okay, good,” Jason responds. “Anyone else?”
“I think maybe it’s less about Christians versus non-Christians and more about the hopelessness of law-based salvation,” a woman suggests.
“That’s a great interpretation, too,” Jason says. “Great work everyone!”
Two Words That Change Everything
We would like to believe that a Bible study group and a postmodern book club would be worlds apart in methodology. But I would argue these two scenes are not too far-fetched. There is an overlap between the two that may seem subtle, but actually carries profound implications. Did you catch the two words that both Jim and Jason used in their opening questions? The two words in question are “to you.”
“To you” seems like an innocent way to invite everyone’s voice to the table for discussion, but I contend that it’s a surefire way to kill effective Bible study.