There’s something special about sitting together with others and learning from God’s Word in community. It’s an important rhythm to incorporate in the life of every believer, but sadly it’s one that we don’t always prioritize in our busy lives. Why is it important to study Scripture with others in community?
1. Studying Scripture in a group leads to deeper discovery.
When we study Scripture, we encounter God’s truth directly from the pages of the Spirit-inspired text. Second Timothy 3:16-17 explains that God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Holy Spirit teaches, convicts, and encourages every believer as he or she interacts with the biblical text and discovers the wisdom of God in its pages. God’s Word is living and effective, and it transforms our hearts as we read and obey what it says (Hebrews 4:12).
Scripture is a lifeline for the believer and studying it with others affirms and clarifies its truth. In a group, we benefit from not only the truth of the Word itself, but also from the exhortation and application of the Word alongside others. We learn what verses of a Scripture passage stood out to someone else and why.
A group is made up of individuals, each with unique stories and life experiences. This brings a richness to the study of the Word because we encounter different perspectives on the text. Someone might notice something in the text that we read right over and didn’t see. Their perspective helps draw our attention to truth we may have overlooked in studying on our own.
2. Studying Scripture in a group offers built-in accountability for each person.
When we read and study the same passage of Scripture together, we can hold one another accountable to an accurate understanding of the text. We can also hold one another accountable for the faithful application of the text in daily life. As we discuss real-life scenarios where we can apply what we’re learning, members of the group can pray for and follow up on steps taken to obey.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 provides an explanation of how much it benefits us to have others we can rely on. When one person is weak, another can come alongside and help carry the burden. When one person experiences a blessing in life, others can add to his or her joy by celebrating and thanking God for His grace. We’re always better together.
3. Studying Scripture in a group leads to the growth of the church body as a whole.
God’s Word is living and it’s powerful, and when we study it with other believers, it unifies and strengthens relationships as every person in the group leans in and discovers His truth together. When everyone is looking at the same source of wisdom and truth, each heart is knitted together in a common focus and goal—knowing and obeying God.
Unity is an essential characteristic of God’s people. Following Jesus isn’t meant to be a solo endeavor. It’s meant to be a way of life that’s shaped by a community rooted in following and obeying God.
Jesus explained this in Matthew 18:19-20 when He said, “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.” He spoke these words as part of a greater explanation of how to restore fellowship within a biblical community. Unity in the body of Christ matters greatly, and one of the best ways to foster unity is to study God’s Word with others.
Hearing a sermon once a week can greatly benefit the members of the body, but it shouldn’t be the only source of biblical community available. Smaller groups studying the Word bring a level of application and unity that is richer and more beneficial for the body. Biblical truth becomes more personal when we look one another in the eyes and challenge and encourage each other to be faithful in obedience to what is taught and discussed.
The accountability of studying God’s Word together strengthens the body as a whole. Scripture tells us to think about the human body as a mental picture of the body of Christ; when one part of the body is strengthened, the whole body is strengthened. And when one part of the body is weak, the whole body feels the effect (1 Corinthians 12).
Gathering together with other believers to study the Word ought to be one of our greatest priorities. It’s a vital part of the Christian life. We must never give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:23-25), and we must do whatever it takes to make time for studying God’s truth in community.
Three Tips for Studying Scripture Together
1. Use a trusted resource. Lifeway provides excellent ongoing Bible study options that make it easy to always have a framework for what you will study. This framework leads to balanced study over time, helping disciples grow. Check out Bible Studies for Life, Explore the Bible, and The Gospel Project. There are also many great short-term Bible studies to consider if you’re looking for a study for a specific timeframe or on a particular topic.
2. Be consistent. Growth happens best when we consistently invest in studying the Word together. Sporadically hosting or attending a Bible study will not reap the benefits nearly as much as meeting together week after week with a group and discovering the truth together. Growing in Christ means growing for the rest of our lives, and that requires a long-term, consistent commitment to His Word and to one another.
3. Be creative. This year gathering together in biblical community has looked different. Online Bible studies, group video chats, and socially-distanced outdoor Bible studies have become more common. Studying God’s Word in community may look different for a season, but there are many ways to creatively and safely connect with one another and study God’s Word together. Keep trying new ways until you find the one that works best for your community. It’s worth it.