Bible Study Fellowship Misgivings

Feb 10, 2015
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I need or at least would benefit from a check by a believing brother (or several, if it comes to that) on my own feelings.

I have been going to a Bible study for a few months, and am thus a 'newbe' there. In the time, I have noticed and been concerned about the general outlook in the group regarding 'others'. Others could mean other churches, other cultures or other religions.

In some cases I would be in general agreement with the fundamental basis of the sentiment expressed, in many others, I would refrain as a christian from coming to any judgement, even on a personal level. Some I would decidedly be in opposition to the expressed sentiment.

What these issues are is not the focus of my request here. There are always some who approach the issues of that day, or Christian life in general, from a different basis. What concerns me is a tendency to point fingers at those 'others', even when there is little to link it to whatever scripture we are discussing.

At other times we were watching a video presentation (I will not throw stones at it by naming it here) about evangelism. Nothing could be further from my understanding of a christian approach. Talked a lot about breaking the 10 commandments. Did not talk about much God's Love. Only mentioned Christ in passing. It also advocated a lot of deceptive devices to attract attention (e.g. biblical tracts printed on what looked like paper money). I did bring up my reservations with biblical examples, but to little avail.

In meditating about this for a while and would like to point out a few observations:

(1) Our Lord was always gentle in dealing with individuals. Whether is was the adulterer about to be stoned or the centurion who came on behalf of his servant, Jesus always treated individuals with courtesy. Even with Jewish leadership, He let His teaching speak for him rather than preach spiritual turmoil to the common people around Him

(2) Using Paul as an example, although he was always ready to admonish the various churches when needed, he did so in love, and did not hold the problems of one church to the ridicule of others. As an example, he told the Corinthians that they needed to show Christian Love and warned the Galatians about the Judiazers there rather than tell the Corinthian church how those in Galatia were placing themselves under the old law nor told Galatian church how self centered the Corinthians were.

One reason I looked for a study group was to hear how other brothers view the scriptures and broaden my understanding. There have been many times throughout my Christian life that studying with those with a fundamentally different approach has helped me either to strengthen my preexisting understanding, or to change it as new truths became evident. But I do not feel the growth of brotherhood or fellowship here. I do not know whether to continue (there are areas of agreement and learning).

Do I continue with this group, sometimes voicing my contrasting opinions, or do I find study and fellowship elsewhere?

I know that I will ultimately have to make my own decision as I feel the Lord's leading, but I would like to hear how others view this.
 
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My first thoughts on reading this is, is this bible study tied to a particular denom? It sounds to me like it might be 7th day adventist, because of the emphasis on Ten Commandments. If you don't agree with their particular doctrine, I think it would be hard to continue going along.

If its just a bible study group studying the Bible, no problem, you go chapter by chapter, there's no underlying agenda or topic. But if you studying someone else's ideas for topic, especially another book that's not the Bible, a book written by someone else ABOUT the Bible, or a video presentation just check who its by because thats not necessarily your view or what the Bible actually says.

Have a chat with the person who's leading or facilitating the Bible study about your concerns. Otherwise, personally I would find another group or ask that we can just study the Bible only, not someone else's book or videos.
 
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I can only express my own experiences with my life long quest, to find a church I feel is behaving in accord with my biblical knowledge.
With this being said let me stress my attitude has been futile, because the perfect church does not exist. The problem is my attitude.
Therefore I find happiness with the fellowship of the saints whether they are right or wrong, and at this life juncture I live and let live.
The churches I find closest to what knowledge I have acquired (trying to learn more), are the ones I am likely drawn towards.
So many biblical divisions exist that I simply agree to disagree, and enjoy what I can "glean" from where ever I am most comfortable.

These days I actually learn more from internet studies on specific topics than I do in a church building. So I take my home church for what it is to me; a place for spending physical quality time with saved souls I call my dear friends.

My advice for you is follow your heart, do what brings you happiness, and in that process you will be better able to be a light in the world :)
Keep shining my brother, it really doesn't matter where. Maybe God has you where he needs you.
 
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Don't overthink things. If it 'feels' wrong to you, don't do it. You can stay and argue, or leave.

If you stay and argue your point, will anybody listen?

Is it worth the fight?
 

bobinfaith

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I need or at least would benefit from a check by a believing brother (or several, if it comes to that) on my own feelings.

I have been going to a Bible study for a few months, and am thus a 'newbe' there. In the time, I have noticed and been concerned about the general outlook in the group regarding 'others'. Others could mean other churches, other cultures or other religions.

In some cases I would be in general agreement with the fundamental basis of the sentiment expressed, in many others, I would refrain as a christian from coming to any judgement, even on a personal level. Some I would decidedly be in opposition to the expressed sentiment.

What these issues are is not the focus of my request here. There are always some who approach the issues of that day, or Christian life in general, from a different basis. What concerns me is a tendency to point fingers at those 'others', even when there is little to link it to whatever scripture we are discussing.

At other times we were watching a video presentation (I will not throw stones at it by naming it here) about evangelism. Nothing could be further from my understanding of a christian approach. Talked a lot about breaking the 10 commandments. Did not talk about much God's Love. Only mentioned Christ in passing. It also advocated a lot of deceptive devices to attract attention (e.g. biblical tracts printed on what looked like paper money). I did bring up my reservations with biblical examples, but to little avail.

In meditating about this for a while and would like to point out a few observations:

(1) Our Lord was always gentle in dealing with individuals. Whether is was the adulterer about to be stoned or the centurion who came on behalf of his servant, Jesus always treated individuals with courtesy. Even with Jewish leadership, He let His teaching speak for him rather than preach spiritual turmoil to the common people around Him

(2) Using Paul as an example, although he was always ready to admonish the various churches when needed, he did so in love, and did not hold the problems of one church to the ridicule of others. As an example, he told the Corinthians that they needed to show Christian Love and warned the Galatians about the Judiazers there rather than tell the Corinthian church how those in Galatia were placing themselves under the old law nor told Galatian church how self centered the Corinthians were.

One reason I looked for a study group was to hear how other brothers view the scriptures and broaden my understanding. There have been many times throughout my Christian life that studying with those with a fundamentally different approach has helped me either to strengthen my preexisting understanding, or to change it as new truths became evident. But I do not feel the growth of brotherhood or fellowship here. I do not know whether to continue (there are areas of agreement and learning).

Do I continue with this group, sometimes voicing my contrasting opinions, or do I find study and fellowship elsewhere?

I know that I will ultimately have to make my own decision as I feel the Lord's leading, but I would like to hear how others view this.
Hello Siloam;

I noticed in reading your thread the Bible studies you attended have been your observation of what other people think, how they understand the Scriptures, pointing fingers, varied cultures, etc...Bible study is about putting all this aside and focusing on the deeper context and interpretation of what God is saying to us.

The more we learn about the deeper study of the Bible then we are prepared to co-exist with how people understand or mis-understand the Scriptures, their opinions, why fingers get pointed, varied cultures, etc...

A great reference to read is Romans 14. To me this chapter is brilliant teaching. Its like a Bible within the Bible.

Bible studies should always have a starting point with the Bible study teacher, usually a Pastor or someone seasoned with studying the Scriptures and explaining how the Word can direct our love, relationship with God and His love, direction and salvation for our lives.

God's love and direction is so clear in our study of the Bible, it teaches our obedience to God, listening to God, memorizing the Scriptures, speaking the Scriptures and living the Scriptures. The reason why Bible studies breaks down is because the ones attending are not getting taught these fundamental, academic disciplines of the Word of God, instead, these Bible study gatherings become a Bible "talk" instead of a study.

Unfortunately, these negative (personality conflict) experiences of people in the study can discourage from attending future Bible studies or even attending church.

Yes, there is room for discussion and interpretation of the Bible study. But the Pastor or Bible study teacher should know how to manage the flow of the conversations by keeping it close to the verb of what is being studied.

Siloam, I hold two Bible studies weekly at two separate churches and always encourage those to speak with me if they are not learning, unhappy, doesn't get a long with others, or disagree with the teaching. There are unlimited other churches with excellent, seasoned Pastors and Bible study teachers that hold very fruitful studies. There are also on-line studies if one is not comfortable with others or cannot attend.

This option can be a blessing, regardless, it is
Biblical and profitable to study the Word. God wants to talk to us and that in itself is a blessing.

God bless
you, brother, and your family.
 
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AtomicSnowflake

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Have you considered asking yourself a different question?

What can you do to HELP your brothers in the study group to grow? It sounds like God has placed you there in order to shake things up a bit and help get the group focused in the right direction.

How you choose to handle things is between you and God... but don't dismiss the challenge/test to grow that you are currently facing. And who knows... maybe you are there to be a good example that they may learn from...

How do you believe Jesus would advise you to respond? How does the Bible instruct us to respond in this situation? What are some examples in scripture of this very same type of problem & how was it addressed? Do we simply walk away to find another place where we feel comfortable and leave our brothers to stumble?

Continue to go until you know for sure what God's will is...
and maybe shift your focus off of the study and onto "the group".. One person CAN and DOES matter & make a difference.
 
Sep 3, 2009
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I need or at least would benefit from a check by a believing brother (or several, if it comes to that) on my own feelings.

I have been going to a Bible study for a few months, and am thus a 'newbe' there. In the time, I have noticed and been concerned about the general outlook in the group regarding 'others'. Others could mean other churches, other cultures or other religions.

In some cases I would be in general agreement with the fundamental basis of the sentiment expressed, in many others, I would refrain as a christian from coming to any judgement, even on a personal level. Some I would decidedly be in opposition to the expressed sentiment.

What these issues are is not the focus of my request here. There are always some who approach the issues of that day, or Christian life in general, from a different basis. What concerns me is a tendency to point fingers at those 'others', even when there is little to link it to whatever scripture we are discussing.

At other times we were watching a video presentation (I will not throw stones at it by naming it here) about evangelism. Nothing could be further from my understanding of a christian approach. Talked a lot about breaking the 10 commandments. Did not talk about much God's Love. Only mentioned Christ in passing. It also advocated a lot of deceptive devices to attract attention (e.g. biblical tracts printed on what looked like paper money). I did bring up my reservations with biblical examples, but to little avail.

In meditating about this for a while and would like to point out a few observations:

(1) Our Lord was always gentle in dealing with individuals. Whether is was the adulterer about to be stoned or the centurion who came on behalf of his servant, Jesus always treated individuals with courtesy. Even with Jewish leadership, He let His teaching speak for him rather than preach spiritual turmoil to the common people around Him

(2) Using Paul as an example, although he was always ready to admonish the various churches when needed, he did so in love, and did not hold the problems of one church to the ridicule of others. As an example, he told the Corinthians that they needed to show Christian Love and warned the Galatians about the Judiazers there rather than tell the Corinthian church how those in Galatia were placing themselves under the old law nor told Galatian church how self centered the Corinthians were.

One reason I looked for a study group was to hear how other brothers view the scriptures and broaden my understanding. There have been many times throughout my Christian life that studying with those with a fundamentally different approach has helped me either to strengthen my preexisting understanding, or to change it as new truths became evident. But I do not feel the growth of brotherhood or fellowship here. I do not know whether to continue (there are areas of agreement and learning).

Do I continue with this group, sometimes voicing my contrasting opinions, or do I find study and fellowship elsewhere?

I know that I will ultimately have to make my own decision as I feel the Lord's leading, but I would like to hear how others view this.
Good questions. However you did not give us enough information to allow us to make a suggestion to you.

"Do I continue with this group"????

NO ONE can answer that but you my friend.

Now IMO. all of what you stated revolves around what the differences are that you did not state specifically.

Is the group saying that there are more ways to heaven than just through the Lord Jesus Christ????
Is the group saying that a "sincere" religious person is going to heaven????
Is the group saying that abortion is OK with God?
Is the group saying that homosexual marriage is OK with God?

Is the group disagreeing with Bible essentials?????

YES, the Lord was gentle, and loving, but He was also strong and JUDGING.

Jesus made a whip and turned over tables and cleaned out the theives. Not once but twice. That seems to say the He saw a problem, judged it and fixed it.

Remember Jesus when He said, in Matthew 1032-36......….
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. ‘For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD’” .
 
Sep 22, 2016
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I. Have recently had the same issue.
I have attended a new church where I’m relocating to.
I was told not to bother with how I read the scriptures by a member and I considered not going again because of it. For me it is most important to read it correctly.
But I did go again and I agree with atomic snowflake response that we can use this time to grow
 

rtm3039

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I need or at least would benefit from a check by a believing brother (or several, if it comes to that) on my own feelings.

I have been going to a Bible study for a few months, and am thus a 'newbe' there. In the time, I have noticed and been concerned about the general outlook in the group regarding 'others'. Others could mean other churches, other cultures or other religions.

In some cases I would be in general agreement with the fundamental basis of the sentiment expressed, in many others, I would refrain as a christian from coming to any judgement, even on a personal level. Some I would decidedly be in opposition to the expressed sentiment.

What these issues are is not the focus of my request here. There are always some who approach the issues of that day, or Christian life in general, from a different basis. What concerns me is a tendency to point fingers at those 'others', even when there is little to link it to whatever scripture we are discussing.

At other times we were watching a video presentation (I will not throw stones at it by naming it here) about evangelism. Nothing could be further from my understanding of a christian approach. Talked a lot about breaking the 10 commandments. Did not talk about much God's Love. Only mentioned Christ in passing. It also advocated a lot of deceptive devices to attract attention (e.g. biblical tracts printed on what looked like paper money). I did bring up my reservations with biblical examples, but to little avail.

In meditating about this for a while and would like to point out a few observations:

(1) Our Lord was always gentle in dealing with individuals. Whether is was the adulterer about to be stoned or the centurion who came on behalf of his servant, Jesus always treated individuals with courtesy. Even with Jewish leadership, He let His teaching speak for him rather than preach spiritual turmoil to the common people around Him

(2) Using Paul as an example, although he was always ready to admonish the various churches when needed, he did so in love, and did not hold the problems of one church to the ridicule of others. As an example, he told the Corinthians that they needed to show Christian Love and warned the Galatians about the Judiazers there rather than tell the Corinthian church how those in Galatia were placing themselves under the old law nor told Galatian church how self centered the Corinthians were.

One reason I looked for a study group was to hear how other brothers view the scriptures and broaden my understanding. There have been many times throughout my Christian life that studying with those with a fundamentally different approach has helped me either to strengthen my preexisting understanding, or to change it as new truths became evident. But I do not feel the growth of brotherhood or fellowship here. I do not know whether to continue (there are areas of agreement and learning).

Do I continue with this group, sometimes voicing my contrasting opinions, or do I find study and fellowship elsewhere?

I know that I will ultimately have to make my own decision as I feel the Lord's leading, but I would like to hear how others view this.
Oh, the stories I could tell. I belong to a very large church, so we place a great deal of focus on bible study groups (aka: small groups). The point is that "small groups make a big church small." My first group just imploded. The leader, who also worked for the church, was asked to resign and escorted off church property. Some trashed other denominations, one suggested we would all be better off if all Muslims were killed, a couple started to trash our lead pastor on social media, and several just left the church completely. It got so harsh that the group was disbanded and were no longer allowed to hold meetings at the church. I, and several others, left the group, before the group was officially dismantled.

A new group was formed, which is where I find myself now. All the "ugly" went away; however, I too feel that we need more focus and that this group is more about fellowship and less about study. Our group is made up of members of the church's volunteer security team, so part of the meeting is always about security and what can be done better. Unfortunately, this sometimes consumes the entire time we meet. Our new leader, who is also our new head of security, spent sometime last month addressing this lack of focus, so I am going to see how that works out. We did not hold meetings during the holidays and the new year is starting off slow. Last week, only two of us showed up.

In the interim, I am looking around to see if there is a better format for our group to follow. For example, we are starting to work on Romans, but the only guidance is that we will be covering 1 through 3 in our next gathering. We will read them as a group and then hold some discussion. My problem is that I would like to see more structure in what we will be reading and the focus of the study. I like this group and we all support each other off campus really well. However, I can honestly say that I am not getting much out of the experience (aside from the friendship). Instead of walking away; however, I want to look at a better format. I guess we will see.

rtm3039
 
Sep 3, 2009
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I. Have recently had the same issue.
I have attended a new church where I’m relocating to.
I was told not to bother with how I read the scriptures by a member and I considered not going again because of it. For me it is most important to read it correctly.
But I did go again and I agree with atomic snowflake response that we can use this time to grow
When you were told...………….."I was told not to bother with how I read the scriptures by a member", IMO you just got the answer to what you need t do.

How can a Bible study be a Bible study if the Bible is not read??????
 
Sep 3, 2009
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Oh, the stories I could tell. I belong to a very large church, so we place a great deal of focus on bible study groups (aka: small groups). The point is that "small groups make a big church small." My first group just imploded. The leader, who also worked for the church, was asked to resign and escorted off church property. Some trashed other denominations, one suggested we would all be better off if all Muslims were killed, a couple started to trash our lead pastor on social media, and several just left the church completely. It got so harsh that the group was disbanded and were no longer allowed to hold meetings at the church. I, and several others, left the group, before the group was officially dismantled.

A new group was formed, which is where I find myself now. All the "ugly" went away; however, I too feel that we need more focus and that this group is more about fellowship and less about study. Our group is made up of members of the church's volunteer security team, so part of the meeting is always about security and what can be done better. Unfortunately, this sometimes consumes the entire time we meet. Our new leader, who is also our new head of security, spent sometime last month addressing this lack of focus, so I am going to see how that works out. We did not hold meetings during the holidays and the new year is starting off slow. Last week, only two of us showed up.

In the interim, I am looking around to see if there is a better format for our group to follow. For example, we are starting to work on Romans, but the only guidance is that we will be covering 1 through 3 in our next gathering. We will read them as a group and then hold some discussion. My problem is that I would like to see more structure in what we will be reading and the focus of the study. I like this group and we all support each other off campus really well. However, I can honestly say that I am not getting much out of the experience (aside from the friendship). Instead of walking away; however, I want to look at a better format. I guess we will see.

rtm3039
IMO...........Any study of a book in the Bible must be taught by someone who has knowledge of what that Book of Scripture says.

Yes, discussion is of course a good thing, but if there is not someone who knows the Scripture then the bible study can degenerate into what the person who is the most vocal wants you to know and that may not be the correct understanding.

A good Bible teacher explains the focuse and context of a Scripture and then draws out of his class what it means to them. Then if they begin to give their "opinion" instead of correct understanding, that teacher brings the class back to the real focus of the Scripture.
 

rtm3039

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IMO...........Any study of a book in the Bible must be taught by someone who has knowledge of what that Book of Scripture says.

Yes, discussion is of course a good thing, but if there is not someone who knows the Scripture then the bible study can degenerate into what the person who is the most vocal wants you to know and that may not be the correct understanding.

A good Bible teacher explains the focuse and context of a Scripture and then draws out of his class what it means to them. Then if they begin to give their "opinion" instead of correct understanding, that teacher brings the class back to the real focus of the Scripture.
I agree. Our new "leader" has been leading bible studies for a while, but this is a fairly new group and I am still taking him out for a test ride. I purchased a new NRSV study Bible which provides some pretty good teaching language. Also spend a good amount of time on the Enduring Word (https://enduringword.com/) web site.

To be honest with you, I have spent a great deal of time doing on-line training and education. I believe my studies would be much deeper on my own, but hard to ask yourself questions.

rtm3039








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I have been in various bible study groups and fellowships.

I have also 'led' a few. Well I didn't actually lead I just organised the meet ups and we read from the Bible, chapter by chapter and had a booklet that asked some questions about it.

These ones were the best ones as the focus was on the Word and not really on anybody's opinions, just our responses to the scripture, maybe some shared experiences and prayer.

Sometimes it helps to write things down in a blank notebook your own thoughts and then share them in a go round, but the go round is not as important as reading the Bible itself. You can even do without the go-round where people just share about what they've been up to during the week as that takes up a lot of time but you don't have to say anything if you don't want to.

Some groups focus on prayer time a bit more...but I would say a bible study without any prayer isn't beneficial, you all need to be praying as you read.

With the different denoms I remember being in one that a lot of people went to and some derived teachings from WOF (word of faith) which I don't really agree with. Now because it seemed a bit off track with the Bible I just had to point out some scripture that came to mind as we were studying that opened some peoples eyes about the nature of faith, as one of the members actually confessed that her 'faith formula' wasn't working like how that denom claimed it would work and she felt rather a failure as a christian in that church. I won't go into it here but it was sad to hear that what some people thought was faith actually was their own effort, and they weren't seeing it as a gift. I think it came as a relief to her that she didn't have to 'work up faith' when she saw what the Bible actually said. In that group, little time was given to scripture reading and more on worship, not wrong in itself but needs to be balanced.

I've been in some groups with all different denoms and some even people who came from catholic churches or christadelphians and they bring what they were taught and understood about the Bible into discussion, but the thing is once they read the Bible for themselves and see, where they came from (and we all come from some sort of background, even if it's no church background at all) isn't relevant it's only what God has to say that is what people REALLY want to know.
 
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I am sorry I haven't responded to this thread since I started it. I have been keeping up (reading the posts) and continuing to pray and meditate but haven't found peace within my heart. I wish to thank all who have taken the time to respond.

The group and the sponsoring church teaches Christ and Him raised. And I have little to quibble with basic theology.

I generally like the group and feel accepted as a part, even if I am a little new. When we actually study the Bible as opposed to other materials, I find the different viewpoints instructive.

It may be just a couple of members out of 10-15 regular attenders that seem to add comments that strike me wrong. That may a problem with me rather than with them.

But a lot of these comments are the kind that draw sharp distinctions between 'us' and 'them', labeling or treating them as enemies. Once so labeled, no attempt at figuring out now to love them as persons as Christ commanded without compromising our withness of the Gospel which is still available to them. In some cases, I think that the others are just approaching Christ from different standpoint, but different from me does not require looking on them as unscriptural. In others, I do not see the point of speaking out against something that is not directly threatening.

Even if these are 'enemies' or corruptors of faith, our Lord commands us to love our enemies. This means, at the least, to treat individuals with personal respect even if we correctly maintain that their actions and beliefs are a danger to the gospel.
 
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Well theres not much you can do about people with different viewpoints who always think they are right about everything.

If someone actually brings to you another gospel, then, thats when you show them the door. The Bible does say about that so just be careful.

I remember having a bible study in which one lady started arguing with another lady about something or other and they were getting rather heated. After a while they showed their true colours in that they were not interested in God but only really what they could get from God. There will be some people you can't really fellowship with (at the time) but I have seen that if they continue reading the Bible God does speak to them or gives them life circumstances in which they need to think again about what they truly believe or WHO they truly believe.