Grab a FREE inductive Bible study template for your family in this post. If you’re looking for a simple way to help your kids & teens (and yourself) jump into Inductive Bible Study, then these free templates are for you!
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What are the Bible study methods?
There is no wrong way to study the Bible! As long as your method is getting you into the Word and rightly interpreting it, you can’t mess this up. Find a method that helps you understand what the text is saying. Don’t be afraid to do the hard work of study! Sometimes it can feel dry, but you will reap the benefit of a deeper understanding and application of God’s Word.
Even though there are probably dozens and dozens of different Bible study methods, they generally fall into two main categories: deductive or inductive.
A deductive approach starts with a big idea and then drills down into portions of Scripture or individual verses to validate that big idea. This is where many topical Bible studies fit. Have you seen a topical Bible study on the tongue, or women in the Bible, or how to parent kids Biblically? These usually start with the main point and then walk you through lots of verses that support that main point. This isn’t a terrible way to study the Bible, but if it’s your only diet, you’ll be missing the meaty portions of Scripture and how to study in context.
Let’s face it – there’s not a lot of topical Bible studies that feature the book of Nahum or that walk you through the significance of the genealogies.
Read on to learn about the second method: inductive study
How can I go deeper in Bible study?
But all Scripture is profitable for us! So, this next approach – the inductive method – is very helpful for students of the Word. Instead of starting with a main idea or topic, you start with the text of Scripture. The inductive method usually works systematically through an entire book of the Bible, one paragraph at a time.
In this method, you let the text speak for itself. You notice key words and thoughts, big ideas of the passage, and finally, you come upon the main point of the passage. This is how you study in context. And it’s a very rewarding method! I’ll tell you more about it below and how you can use the FREE templates in this post to get started studying this way.
How do you set up a Bible study notebook?
If you want to create a Bible study notebook, you’ll want:
- printed out Scripture text so you can mark the key words
- Bible study template (below)
- colored pens or pencils
- Bible – you’ll need this in addition to the printed text so you can look up cross-references
You can use a site like BibleGateway.com to find your text in your preferred version and copy and paste it into a document to print out so you can mark it. Definitely print it out double spaced so you have plenty of room for markings! This will make the main ideas in the text pop out as you study.
How the Inductive Method Is Different From Other Bible Studies
Most other Bible studies use a deductive approach. That is, you are starting with a topic or statement and looking through Scripture for verses that support that thesis.
While a topical Bible study like this can get you digging into Scripture, it also requires you to try to interpret verses out of context. And it doesn’t necessarily challenge your presuppositions by letting the text speak for itself.
In contrast, when you use an inductive approach to studying Scripture, you are not coming to the text with any presuppositions. You are letting the text speak for itself, and necessarily letting the text challenge you.
One other big difference between these approaches is that a topical study quickly jumps to application before you are able to completely interpret a verse. This is because you are studying verses or passages pulled out of their whole context, so it is more difficult to get a full meaning.
The Inductive method doesn’t lead you to apply a passage until you have a full grasp on what the text says and then what the text means.
The Inductive method thrives on studying a whole book of the Bible in context. So, choose a book to start with and download the Bible study template to get started.
How to Use This Bible Study Template
If you’d like some advice on where to start, I would suggest choosing one of these books of the Bible in your preferred version.
- I John
Read one paragraph per day and use the Inductive Bible Study Template to work through these three steps of studying the text:
- Observation: What does the text say?
- Interpretation: What does the text mean?
- Application: How should this change me?
Here’s a little more explanation on each of these three steps.
The three steps of an Inductive Bible study
First, when you observe the text you’re looking for:
- key words
- key people or terms
Just mark the text or keep notes on what you notice in the observation step.
For example, if you were studying in I John 1:5-7, which key words would you mark in the text?
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.I John 1:5-7, ESV
Did you notice the repetition and contrast of light and darkness? What about the words truth and fellowship? This is what it means to observe the text and ask what is says. You can use this step to look up any words you don’t know.
Next, you’ll want to ask “what does the text mean” as you move on to interpretation. You do this by digging deeper, looking at cross-references, and trying to summarize the main idea. Those of you who are familiar with a Charlotte Mason homeschool style will be familiar with the art of narration. In the inductive method, you use narration in this second step.
Finally, you’ll apply what the text means to you life. What do you learn about God? Human nature? How does your life need to change?
Many Bible study methods seem to skip the Interpretation step in favor of jumping quickly to application. But you can’t rightly apply the text before you know what it means.
Additional Inductive Bible Study Resources
If you want to dive deeper into studying the Bible with an inductive method, then check out our Inductive Bible Study Courses.
Our Psalm 1 studies give you the opportunity to try out the inductive approach without a big commitment.
Little Fishes Bible Study (K-4)
For students in grades K-4 we have a gentle approach to Bible study through the Little Fishes Bible Study resources.
Self Study Workbook + Video Lessons (Grades 5-12)
For students in grades 5-12, check out the Self Study Workbook or the Video Lessons (which also include the Self Study Workbook).
Read a review by The Old Schoolhouse of our James Self Study Workbook.
Our workbooks are now on Amazon! Purchase beautiful PHYSICAL copies with the links below.
James Little Fishes (K-4)
James Self Study Workbook (grades 5-12)
Jonah & Nahum Self Study Workbook (grades 5-12)