Had a great night of small group Bible study yesterday. It was a FULL HOUSE, and the freshmans were wild (not really). We studied the parable of the wise and foolish builders. I did little more than ask questions and clarify responses. Our discussion lasted an hour and 15 minutes. It was a style they weren’t used to, and about half were mentally tired for the last 20 minutes.

After hanging out for 20 minutes, we started the Bible study discussion. I set the tone and expectations: “Tonight is about conversations, not lectures, so if no one says anything we’ll be done in about ten minutes.” I gave them a handout (which you can find here) and walked through the “sections” they have to make notes (These sections aren’t an agenda for the Bible study, simply three categories to organize their thoughts).

We read the passage out loud three times (I never get a passage after reading it once, so I figure others don’t either.) Before the second time through, I tell the group to make note of the verses that don’t make sense and/or any write out any questions they have.

Here are the questions I had prepped, of which we barely did half. (I realize that looking at the questions alone isn’t super helpful, but this post is already way too long. If you have a question about a question, then post it in the comments)

  • What is confusing or difficult to understand? Are there any words that don’t make sense? What questions do you have? (I use this every time and it sets up the whole night. I don’t answer any of the questions, almost every time, the people ask all the questions I have prepped. Usually, before I end the night, I ask “does anyone have a question that didn’t get answered?” I didn’t do this last night)
  • In what ways are the wise and foolish similar?
  • In what ways are the wise and foolish different?
  • What is the “foundation?” According to the text, what is the rock or the sand?
  • What are the storms? According to the text, is there a clear answer?
  • What is the one thing this passage is about? Say it in a sentence.
  • Why is doing so important to hearing, knowing, believing?
  • So then, are we saved by what we do? (we didn’t get here…not even close)
  • This passage talks about the wise and the foolish, is there a third kind of person implied? (a student asked: what about people who don’t hear the words of Jesus?)
  • Go personal: how can you make sure you are hearing the words of Jesus?
  • Go personal: how do you know the right thing to do? There’s a million things a Christian can do, which hinges are right for you?

Here were the few conclusions I pointed out, either in the beginning, middle, or end:

(a) We all bring assumptions to a text. The longer we are a Christian, the more assumptions we’ll pick up along the way. We can fight this natural tendency by learning to look at the little things, the simple things. We can be disciplined enough to let the text stand on it’s own.

(b) This is going to be a place where we process together…this means lots of things:

  • I don’t ask questions because I know there are “three or four” correct answers…who knows what insights will emerge?
  • we can’t interrupt one another, cause it’s hard to share and harder when we’re interrupted
  • there will be silences…you may feel it’s awkward
  • I’ll be learning along side you, and sometimes I’ll be quiet after a response trying to understand it better, I’d rather understand a new thought than have my next “agenda item” ready to fire off
  • Some thoughts will be half baked, and sometimes we’ll start taking and then not know how to end the thought
  • I don’t answer very many questions…I don’t really need to because usually we come to the right answers together…this is really frustrating for some

(c) definition of a parable…to throw along side…a story is thrown along side a truth to make it stick…didn’t go so far as to explain the difference between parable and allegory, but did point out that parables teach a single truth…

(d) implication of the passage: we must hear, and do … it’s not enough to just hear (and know).

(e) set up for next week: Think about: “How well are we hearing Jesus?” next week we’ll look at the parable of the sower