Several times recently, I’ve heard this kind of statement: “My Bible study feels like I’m only ‘completing a checklist,’ and I just don’t want to do it that way.” I fully understand that sentiment, and I appreciate the heart behind it. At the same time, though, I’m not opposed to “checklist” Bible study, at least on a temporary basis. Here’s why:
- Many of us learned Bible study in only a “checklist” way in the first place. That is, our churches told us we must do it but didn’t teach us how to do it. All we’ve known is “read and check it off.” Eventually, that approach leaves us wanting more—which is a good thing.
- Our concern about a debatable motive for Bible reading does not give us permission to neglect our Bible reading. If the proposed solution to a misdirected motive is to ignore the Word of God, that response simply takes us in the direction of disobedience. It certainly doesn’t resolve the issues.
- Sometimes we do indeed do our spiritual disciplines just because we know we need to, even when our heart’s not fully in it. Few of us approach the Word or prayer every time with zeal and expectation, but still we choose to be faithful in those struggling moments. That’s the right move.
- As long as we put ourselves under the Word, we put ourselves in a place for God to grab our attention. The Word is powerful in itself, and it does not return to us empty (Isa 55:11). Our approaching the Bible in a “checklist” way does not limit the Word’s ability to convict and change us so we might long to hear more of it.
- We often need to develop the habit of Bible reading before it becomes a part of our spiritual DNA. I wish our Bible study DNA would develop overnight, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes, our Bible study becomes a delight only after we’ve been faithful in our duty.
Finally, have you looked at these free resources from Church Answers? If not, I encourage you to take advantage of these helpful e-books:
Lord, Teach Us Pastors to Pray! by Chuck Lawless
Leading Change when Nobody Wants It by Sam Rainer
Leading a Post-COVID Church by Thom Rainer