Three Column Study
I’ve only recently discovered what is (to me) a new method of studying God’s word, and I’m excited about it — so of course I want to tell you about it and how to do it. This is a simple and effective method of seeking God through His word, and if you’ll give it a try, I think you’re going to love it.
It’s called inductive, and this particular version of inductive study is called “Discovery.” You’ll find a good deal more about it at Church Planting Ministries’ training resources website. The three column version of the Discovery Bible Study is what you will do if you’re on your own without a group.
Choose a passage that you’d like to study. Stories are a good place to start, but you can study any passage you like. It should be fairly short. If it’s longer than 15 or 20 verses, you might want to divide it into more than one session.
- Pray. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. No one can truly understand what God means by any of His word without His guidance.
- Turn your paper or notebook on its side and divide it into three columns. Label each column . . . something like this: Scripture, My Paraphrase, and Action or “I Will.”
- In the first column, copy out the scripture you’ve chosen word for word. This obviously slows you down, which gives you a chance to chew on the words as you go along.
- In the second column, paraphrase your story. Write it out in your own words. Be sure not to miss any important details, but try to do it from memory if you can. When you’re done, read over it and then go back and add anything important that you might have forgotten.
- Analyze the passage and note your thoughts in the third column. What does it say about God? About our relationship with God? What does it say about people? About our relationships with one another? Use the anagram SPECK to help you think about what the passage says:
- Sin: Is there a sin to think about in relationship to this passage? Something to avoid, or something you may not have known was wrong or have been unconsciously doing, or something that is a temptation for you?
- Prayer: Is there a prayer being made in the passage that you might want to emulate, or is there a command to pray, or something that strikes you that you should pray about?
- Praise: Is there something here that you should praise God about? Or does something come to your mind that you have perhaps overlooked concerning God’s goodness?
- Promise: Do you see a promise from God? What are the conditions of the promise?
- Example: Does the passage contain an example that you should emulate, or one that you should avoid following?
- Commandment: Are we directly commanded to do something by the passage, or is there an implied commandment?
- Knowledge of God: What does this passage add to your knowledge of God?
- What will you change or continue to do, as a result of reading and meditating on this passage? With God’s guidance, write one or more “I Will . . .” statements in the third column. Be sure to memorize these “I Will” statements, and share them with someone who will encourage you to carry out your statement.
- Who do you know who would benefit from hearing about the things you’ve discovered in this study? Write down a name or two and commit yourself to tell these people what you’ve learned.
- Thank God for His revelations to you, and write down anything you feel He’s saying to you.
- That’s it. You’re done. Go about your day, but don’t forget your “I Will” statements or the people you’ve decided to share with.
If you do this, please let me know how it goes for you.