Book Review: Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods
Author: Rick Warren
Publisher: Zondervan ISBN: 9780310495932
I was in a conversation recently with my brother-in-law who told me about the great experience he had with leading a small group through Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods. Having taught Bible study classes for a number of years now, I’m always interested in learning new methods and experimenting with various resources that might help my own teaching efforts, so I bought myself a copy. I can honestly report that I am glad I did!
What makes me glad…
First of all, most of my teaching with regard to study is focused almost exclusively on the inductive method of Bible study. While Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods include systematic inductive methods, they are not exclusive to the book; there are, after all, twelve ways you can unlock God’s word included in its pages. I do believe true inductive Bible study will yield the richest results over most other styles of study, but realistically not every person has an affinity for that sort of Bible study. There are different styles of learner, so it helps to have alternate methods that will draw people into the Bible story and Rick Warren provides some of these alternatives in his twelve ways presentation.
Contents and Structure
The structure and contents of the book is straightforward; there is a preface, an introduction, twelve chapters detailing the twelve Bible study methods, and a very comprehensive appendices section. I was duly impressed with the introduction where Warren quickly establishes the reason for and principles of the various Bible study methods. He also includes a very detailed list of study reference tools. In this list he covers specific details and examples for each of the reference categories (study Bibles and translations, concordances, encyclopedias, dictionaries, Bible handbooks, word and language helps, commentaries and more). He goes on to provide recommendations for beginning and advanced study libraries. Personally, I think the introduction along with the appendix references are worth the cost of the book alone.
Following the introduction, Warren provides a preview of the twelve study methods. I thought this overview was very helpful for the reason that is stated in the preface; “…each chapter is independent of the others, you may skip around in reading the book, choosing to learn first the methods that interest you most. However, with the exception of the last one, these methods are presented in order of their difficulty. There is a logical progression through the book. As you move from chapter to chapter, you will be introduced to additional Bible study skills.” Armed with the basic knowledge of each chapter-method, the reader can start where they feel comfortable and skip ahead as they deem necessary.
Each chapter-method is structured with the same basic components: (1) a condensed outline of the method (2) a short definition of the method (3) a rationale for the method (4) the procedure of the method (5) an example of the method—completed illustration (6) a blank form for copy to use in your study (7) suggested passages and/or subjects to get you started in your study (8) suggestions for further reading related to the particular method. For a closer look, you can check out the entire Table of Contents and some media samples from the Zondervan website here.
This book is very intuitive and easy to follow. There is a Bible study method for every learning style and intellectual ability. I think if there was one “How To” Bible study book I would recommend, it would be Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods for this very reason; it will appeal to a larger and varied demographic because of the many options available. If you are interested in studying the Bible and enriching your knowledge and experience with it, you should really consider giving this book a try.