The Inductive Method for Birthing and Cooking Up Conversation in Small Group

Amy got really sick just before Will was born.  She gained 20 pounds in fluid in a week.  Her blood pressure shot way, way up.  Something was wrong.  Even though Will's due date was June 7th (still not here), he had to be born.  As we joked about in Small Group: Vamanos!

The doctors and nurses induced Amy.  That's one inductive method.

I love to cook, especially for my Small Group.  The science behind it fascinates me.  Did you know that people cook with magnetism now?  Someone decided to put Joules first law to work: current passing through material that's conductive can generate heat.  Turn the burner on and you can touch it with no problems (unless you're Iron Man).  Put a cast-iron skillet on that same burner and it gets hot almost immediately.  Magnetism is awesome (check out this article).

This cooking method, well, can you guess what they call it?  That's another inductive method.

We want to approach the Bible, not to have our opinions confirmed, but to connect with God in all his truth.  We want to hear what's really in the passages we're reading in Small Group.  If they challenge us, that's okay.  If they confront us, that's okay.

The approach to studying the Bible in Small Group that best brings it alive and provokes conversation is, you guessed it, another inductive method.

This is the method we use.

The Inductive Method for Small Group Bible Study has been a staple of InterVarsity for over 60 years.  We've got it pumping through our blood.

The inductive method runs through three stages: observation (what's there?), interpretation (what's it mean?) and application (what's it mean for us?).  OIA.  Observation, Interpretation, Application.  All three are crucial to an excellent study of a text.

Without observation, you end up running off without the facts.  Most Small Groups veer off into arguments, philosophy and venerable Christian quoting ("My pastor said..." "Well, John Piper said...").  No, you need observation.

Without interpretation, you end up in blind obedience or accidental disobedience.  As I mentioned yesterday, not every example in the Bible is an example to follow.  Some are there to teach us what not to do.  No, Small Group leaders need interpretation.

Without application, this all becomes a meaningless intellectual exercise and a waste of time.  And on top of all that, God actually wants the people who come to Small Group to apply his Word to their lives.  A principle unapplied still has yet to be fully understood.  No, we need application.

I'll blog more on OIA over the course of the week, but I want to mention the conversation angle for a moment.  Some of us have been a part of Bible Studies that refused to operate like Small Group communities.  The leaders were only interested in getting us to say the right answers and there were right answers to every question.  In some groups, if you didn't do the homework, you couldn't talk during the study.

That's not what we're looking for.  In our Small Group communities, we want to engage God and his word together.  We want to have on-going conversations about his word.  We want to get specific, get practical, get vulnerable.  We want people who don't know the Bible inside and out and who were raised reading the Bible to be able to contribute to the conversation.  Included.  No dropping of eaves. 

The inductive method allows for this.  If they can read, they can participate, especially in the observation phase.  Lead well, with this method, and people will engage both with God's word and with each other.  And when that happens, God births something great, he cooks up something special.  That's where change happens.  That where we see him clearly.  That's what we want.

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