What is Inductive Bible Study? What is Precept?
Precept is a ministry that teaches classes and workshops, and publishes books, videos, and other materials for Inductive Bible Study. You may have heard of Kay Arthur? She’s one of the founders and main teachers at Precept.
Inductive Bible Study is a method of studying that teaches you to study for yourself by using the biblical text as your main focus. With practice, you really can learn techniques for studying the Bible that you can use on your own anytime, anywhere, for any book or passage in the Bible.
There are three steps to Inductive Bible Study:
- Observation (What does it say?)
- Interpretation (What does it mean?), and
- Application (How does this meaning apply to my life?)
That’s a broad description of the method; there are techniques along the way. The reason I am such a believer in it is that it equips people to study Scripture for themselves and not rely on what other people tell them the Bible says. You gain first-hand knowledge, discernment, and wisdom.
Can kids really handle that? It sounds complicated.
Kids can definitely learn Inductive Bible Study. I’ve seen kids aged six and up learn the process and answer questions by looking at the text. We never use Bible storybooks, and the kids never rely on me to give them a summary of the story. They are reading it for themselves. The books walk them through the whole thing, step by step, adding fun activities to engage young readers. It trains them to approach Bible study a particular way by making a habit of it.
As kids get older, their knowledge and experience of Scripture matures, and their study matures with it. This kind of study isn’t something they will ever outgrow.
What kind of studies do you do with kids?
I use Precept’s Discover 4 Yourself series, which is written specifically for kids, using the Inductive Bible Study method. Each book features recurring characters in a fun premise, like a movie set, a comic book, or a visit to Washington, D.C. The books have entertaining (but not distracting) illustrations and activities, and they tell the kids exactly what to do every step of the way.
The Discover 4 Yourself series doesn’t have all of the books of the Bible yet, but there are history books, letters, prophetic books, and topical studies. I find that kids like stories, so I like to start them with a historical narrative like Jonah, Esther, or John. Some of the studies are one-book studies, and some are multiple-book studies. All that is to say, it gives me a lot of flexibility as a teacher to choose the right study for each group of students.
When I taught Revelation, I wrote the study myself. I used lots of inductive study techniques, but introduced drawing as a way to do Observation. The kids loved it!
What do we need to take the class?
You’ll need to buy the workbook, which the church sells, and you’ll need a set of colored pencils. You’ll also need a Bible (or an app or website) for the occasional cross-references; NASB is what the workbook uses. That’s it!
Do parents have to come with their kids?
Involving parents in kids’ Bible study is a big part of my ministry. Parents are called to disciple their kids, and this is a great way to fold that into your week. Plus, I didn’t want the kids to outpace their parents in learning how to do Bible study! I promise, when you take this class with your child, you will be amazed at how much you learn. You will not feel like you’re stuck in a kids’ class.
For the younger class (the 1-3 graders), the parents are required to be there unless you and I have talked about your special circumstance, and I think it will work. In most cases, though, the parents will need to be there. Not only is it invaluable parent-child time, but it is what makes it possible for me or one of my teachers to teach the class at all. We just can’t get through much material if we’re trying to keep a whole group of kiddos on-task!
For the older class, I still prefer for parents to be there. There is great benefit in having parents and kids learning side-by-side, and you’re modeling to them the importance of studying the Bible. But for experienced students, or older students who can work independently, I’m more willing to green-light the kids coming on their own. But if any problems arise, we may have to revisit.
The other case is if your child has ADHD or similar difficulties, I have to insist that you come with your child. I want them there, and they can definitely learn and be a contributor to the class. My own son has ADHD, and class wouldn’t be the same without him! Without a parent there, I have found that I spend too much time redirecting one student at the expense of the rest of the class.
How long is class?
Class goes from 6:30 to 8:00. I know, that’s kind of a long time. But to be honest, it never feels like it’s dragging- the time flies. I do give them a five-minute break in the middle so they can get a drink, go to the restroom, or just walk around the room a little bit.
How much homework is there?
The books are organized into weeks, with five days of homework per week. Some are longer than others. However, I have found that the sweet spot seems to be three days of homework per week. For the younger kids, it doesn’t overwhelm them, and they can handle three days. For the older kids, they can still get it done most weeks in addition to heavy school homework loads, extracurricular activities, etc. That means it takes longer to get through a book, but that’s okay.
A word on homework. I always want you to try to finish your homework. But there are going to be weeks where you don’t finish, don’t even start, or leave your book somewhere. COME ANYWAY. I’m big on grace in my classroom, and I never want homework performance to keep you away. We go through all the homework in class, so please come and learn. (But, don’t make it a habit!)
I’m still not sure. What should I do?
Come check us out for a week or two and see if it’s a good fit, without buying the book. If it is, buy the book and keep coming. If it’s not, that’s okay. There are other great opportunities that might just be a better fit. But I encourage you to come back and try us again in a year or two. It can make a big difference.