Have you ever built a house? If not, I’m guessing you have seen a house being built in your neighborhood. The many individual tasks for building a house can be categorized into a 3-phase process. First, there is the prep and ground work that culminates with a Foundation being poured. The second phase is really fast – Framing. The third phase is everything that comes after that – electrical, plumbing, sheetrock, paint, trim, etc. That’s the Finish Work.
You can use this same 3-phase process – Foundation, Framing, and Finish Work – as a fantastic guide for studying the Bible.
Let’s do a 1-minute recap of where we’ve been so far on our avoid-the-drift journey.
- Our first stop was to explore the four Intangibles, so you make sure you have the right approach and mindset to be successful.
- Then we moved on to the five truths you must remember as you seek to establish a Schedule that works for you.
- Last time, I shared my “Top 5” Bible study Tools (rather than wading through the 6.9 million results Google has to offer).
So…you have the right mindset. You have a schedule. You have the tools. Now what?
Obviously, there are hundreds of different “Bible study processes” out there. There are three reasons I want you to try the process I’m about to lay out for you.
- It’s simple. (Simple gets applied. Complicated gets set aside.)
- It’s designed the way God has naturally wired your brain to work. (Most Bible study plans don’t take “brain science” into account.)
- It’s equally effective whether you’ve been studying the Bible your whole life, or your exploring it for the first time. (No need to learn several different processes down the line.)
Since I wrote a 180-page book about this entire process, this post will cover the nuts and bolts.
The Foundation Phase
Think of anything you know really well. A hobby. A sport. A musical instrument. A style of cooking.
Now let me ask you this…
How did you learn it?”
Did someone start out teaching you the details? Did you learn one measure of a song over and over before ever hearing or playing another measure, verse, or chorus? Did you learn the strategies of defensive formations before understanding the basics of how soccer is played? Was your first cooking lesson titled The Many Uses of Basil?
Of course not! You started with the basics. The overview. The gist.
That’s how God has wired your brain to learn. We naturally and enjoyably learn anything from the general to the specific.
Now think about how most people study the Bible. We look at a chapter, or parable, or even one verse.
That’s Finish Work. It’s extremely important. But it’s not the place to start!
Here are the elements of Foundation:
- Take a short book. I recommend Philippians, Ephesians, or II Timothy. None of those will take you more than 20 minutes to read.
- Read the whole thing, out loud, in a physical Bible. (This will massively increase your focus, understanding, and memory. Again…it’s brain science.)
- Read the whole thing again the next day. And the next.
- Repeat this process for four weeks.
- Once a week, read an entirely different translation. (If you’re wondering which translations to choose, you’ll want to read this post.) LINK
The Framing Phase
I’m always blown away by how fast a house can be framed. The Foundation and Finish Work take months. The framing is sometimes completed in a week!
The same is true with the Framing phase of Bible study. It’s really fast.
In building a house, framing serves two primary purposes:
- It holds everything on and in the house to the foundation.
- It divides up the house into rooms. (If you live in a studio apartment, humor me.)
In Bible study, the Framing phase serves two similar purposes:
- It is the “bridge” between the general approach of the Foundation phase and the deeper, detailed study of the Finish Work.
- It divides up the book of the Bible you’re studying into smaller chunks you can study a day at a time.
Framing is done by simply reading through the book and jotting down (or marking in your Bible if you’re into that) the major sections in the book. I like to create a super simple outline, but a written journal or electronic notetaking app will work just fine. My one recommendation is to not use the exact headings found in your Bible. It probably breaks it down too much at this point. Not to mention coming up with your own sections and wording will help you remember. (I’m guessing you want to remember what you read. Wink, wink.)
The Finish Work Phase
Most Bible studies start here… You want to do a deep study of Ephesians? Take a look at 2-4 verses today. Then a few more tomorrow. Then another few the next day.
This is a huge mistake!
It’s completely backwards. Our brains are wired to learn from the Big Picture to the details. Not the other way around!
The easiest way to think about Finish Work is using this analogy. Finish Work is like discussing a specific scene, character, or plot twist in a movie you have already watched multiple times. To discuss a scene of a movie you’ve never watched is extremely boring. However, you can probably talk for hours about the details of a movie you love!
Foundation and Framing are “watching the movie.” Finish Work is “discussing the movie.”
As you read what follows, keep in mind you will have already read the book and “framed it up” for about a month. You will be incredibly familiar with it at this point.
Some ideas for Finish Work:
- Take the sections you created during the Framing phase and slowly read, reread, and pray through one each day.
- Look up some of the words or phrases that show up multiple times in the book. (Here’s a post where I walk through three free online tools for doing word studies.)
- Turn some of the specific verses into prayers – for yourself, your kids, spouse, friends, or coworkers. (Check out the Bible Praying App – Apple or Android – if you want to see what I’m talking about.)
- Write down what you want to apply on a Post-It, journal, or notecard. Then put is somewhere you will see it!
- Pick a collection of verses – or sections – you want to internalize so you can truly “meditate” on God’s Word throughout your day.
A Final Invitation
I pray these four posts have encouraged and equipped you to avoid the drift. May these concepts help you get – and stay – consistent in your Bible reading.
If this series has resonated with you, I would highly encourage you to try out my online, video series called Relational Bible Study™.
In this series, I unpack all of these concepts more thoroughly. Of all of the books I’ve written and presentations I’ve given, Relational Bible Study™ is the single, most important resource I wish every one of my readers would walk through.
That’s why I’ve ditched the traditional “try the first session” guarantee. I want you to walk through the entire 8-session course. After walking through the whole thing, if it hasn’t been an encouragement and blessing to you, simply send me an email and I will refund your registration fee. No questions. Simple.
Here’s an overview video. Watch it. Then head over to www.RelationalBibleStudy.com and get started!