Daniel Erlander’s retelling of the Bible, Manna and Mercy, has been popular with Lutherans for decades. Now, Augsburg Fortress has made a curriculum based on Manna and Mercy that is appropriate for many age levels and situations. One component of this curriculum is the self-directed Bible study, which uses the original edition of Manna and Mercy along with reproducible content from the Leader Sourcebook. Jessica Davis wrote the content for the self-directed Bible study. What follows is Jessica’s answer to the question, “What would you say to someone who isn’t sure about doing their own self-directed Bible study?”
The first thing I would say is that the body of Christ needs them to be doing self-directed Bible study. Their unique experiences, opinions, and questions will allow them to approach the Biblical texts in ways others will not. As a Black, disabled femme, I will tend to read the Bible with an eye towards gender, race/ethnicity, and dis/ability. These are important conversations for all of us in the church to be having. What important conversations in the church might your life experiences affect? Just as the body of Christ requires many parts to function, it also requires many ideas and perspectives to remain vibrant and accessible to as many people as possible.
I think some of the hesitancy people have about conducting Bible studies on their own is that they might not have received formal training. And while I agree that it is crucial to receive training in the history, languages, and contexts of the Bible in order to teach others factual information about the text, no training is required to wonder, ponder, and dream! Much of the material in the mini-Bible studies both invites people to engage the text from their personal perspectives and suggests ways to responsibly gain more information about the texts and the people who wrote them, so I think they can be a great way to get your toes wet in the world of biblical interpretation. The Bible is God's gift to humanity, and all people are invited to experience and explore!