Why do Bible teachers regularly try to reinvent the wheel? Is it our ego? Do we hold an idea of the teacher that he or she must be the creator of every idea we teach? I wrestled with these questions when I was turned on to the Serendipity Bible: For Personal and Small Group Study.
Zondervan publishes the Serendipity Bible using the NIV84 or the KJV translation. Basically, it’s a book with lots of pre-made group discussion outlines. Every chapter (and sometimes there are more than a outline per chapter), has icebreaker questions, text study questions, and application questions. Most of the time they’re great. If you want to lead a small group study or just study with your family, this is a great resource that can save you some time.
In addition to questions for every chapter, the Serendipity Bible also contains 60 small group study plans on various topics. These plans each include 6 lessons and each lesson points the teacher to a chapter or section of text. Once there, the teacher or group discussion leader simply needs to use the chapter questions.
Teachers and preachers might ask why they would want to use this book. "I've been to seminary;" they might say, "I know how to write my own lesson plans." The teacher may be concerned that the class will think less of him or her because of this book. First, the teacher or preacher who asks these questions needs to examine the purpose of teaching. Is it for the teacher to look smart or for the class to learn something and grow closer to Christ? Second, if there is a helpful resource that may improve the quality of learning, why would a teacher opt not to use such a tool? If nothing else, why not consult the questions and at least see if there's something helpful?
But maybe the best reason for using the Serendipity Bible is that it's extremely reproducible. Nearly any believer could take this material and lead a Bible study or discussion around the text. The teacher could easily hand the Bible to someone else and encourage him or her to lead. In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul encourages Timothy to teach men who can teach others. If this instruction also applies to us--and I think it does--than the Serendipity Bible is a useful tool for teaching others to teach future teachers.
Here is a sample taken from Psalm 51:
1. Do you recall getting caught with your “hand in the cookie jar” as a child? As an adult? What happened each time?
2. Read aloud Psalm 51.
Getting Into the Text:
1. In how many ways did David sin (see 2 Samuel 11:1-27)?
2. In light of his arrogance, adultery, deception, and murder, how does he dare approach God? What does he feel?
3. Murder is a capital crime under Jewish law. Why also adultery (see Deuteronomy 22:22)?
4. Since such sins involve others, what is the meaning of verse 4? What does this show about the nature of sin?
5. How can an unborn child be considered “sinful” (v. 5)? If God created all things “good,” why does mankind tend to sin (See Romans 5:12-14)?
6. In light of all this, what does David ask God to do (vv.7-12)? What is “cleansing with hyssop” (see Leviticus 14:4-7)? Why does David request this?
7. How does David hope to escape God’s wrath (vv. 13-17)? On what basis does he hope for a restored relationship?
8. Why does David generalize his prayer to include the whole nation (vv. 18-19)? What does this say about the nature of sin?
9. What kinds of sacrifices does the Lord desire in verses 16-17? In verse 19? When is a broken spirit or contrite heart enough? When are acts of sacrifice due?
1. Has covering up sin backfired in your life? How have you seen God’s mercy when you owned up to your sin?
2. Are there really any victimless crimes? How do personal failings affect God? Others? Self? Society?
3. Are you more sensitive to sin and brokenness in yourself as a Christian then beforehand? Why?