On visiting the bookstore

A couple of months ago I visited a real, live, brick and mortar Christian bookstore to pick up a copy of a book we were considering for our ladies’ Bible study at my church. I love the internet (where all the best deals on books can be found) but, for me, nothing compares to seeing the actual pages, particularly when making a decision on something as important as Bible study. I look at the book at the store; I’ll more often than not purchase it online!

While looking for the title I had in mind, I decided to survey the Bible study section, browsing for, you know, studies that are mainly about, well, the Bible. They were there; I found them in the far back corner, about four shelves’ worth, behind the (multi-rowed) section of (video) studies on topics such as communication (important), marriage (very important), and, among other things, not being frantic (also important).

I’m sure all of those studies are good and for the most part Biblically based. Important, as I said. I’m not writing today in criticism of any particular study nor author.

Let me also say this: neither am I criticizing video based Bible studies. I’ve facilitated many video studies. Many. From back when they were VHS, and only a few available at that. I’ve benefited greatly from each and every video study I’ve done and haven’t regretted a single one. Not one, so don’t hear me hating on DVD studies nor the authors and teachers of such. As a matter of fact, I’m certain I haven’t facilitated my last video based study.

However, while we’re talking about it, the thing about video studies is…well, they’re just…so…prevalent! Now if one wants to lead a Bible study, one merely needs a TV, a DVD player, and voila! instant Bible study featuring a dynamic, gifted communicator who’s been blessed with the benefits of stylists and wardrobe consultants and hair and makeup professionals not to mention sound editors who take care of all stammers and verbal miscues and such…

Do I sound cynical? I’m not. Really, I’m not. I will admit, my visit to the bookstore that day left me a little unsettled as I realized anew my complete and utter lack of qualification when it comes to teaching. I have no training–not even speech class in high school! In the depths of my insecurity, I wondered (and not for the first time)…in light of the plethora of gifted communicators readily available with the purchase of a DVD, what is there for women like me, women called by God to teach the Word, yet ordinary women with only ordinary skills, women with passion and willingness and little else?

I don’t want my name on some DVD. Not at all. That’s not my point. It just seems to me that the seeming peddling of personalities and platform can make women like me wonder if our calling has any relevance. Why should I stumble and stammer through a lesson that I am horribly ill “qualified” to teach when I can insert a disc and get the real deal instead? Why even try?


So, did I have a point? Other than yet another confession of my perpetual insecurities? Oh, yes. The point I wanted to have was this: STUDY THE WORD. As I wandered and wondered at the bookstore, I kept thinking of something I heard John Piper say: Wimpy theology makes for wimpy women.

How do we be strong women of God? Have a strong understanding of God (theology). How do we develop strong theology? Through the study of His Word! Let’s not settle for wimpy theology. Let’s determine to know God by knowing the deep things of His Word. Communication skills and a proper understanding of God’s plan for marriage are important, no doubt about it, but let’s also be women devoted to studying the Bible. Theology is not only for pastors and seminarians–it’s for you and me too! Strong theology will transform us into strong women of God whose humble, ordinary lives will bring glory and honor to our All sufficient, extraordinary God!

And, oh yeah, if He’s calling you to teach His Word–or whatever else that you feel insufficient in and woefully incompetent to do, not to mention completely without a wardrobe stylist–go ahead and say yes. His all surpassing power is best revealed in weakness, His treasure in the ordinary jar of clay! Yes and amen!


Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

18 thoughts on “On visiting the bookstore”

  1. I think God definitely needs teachers like you because you’re a REAL PERSON. A video course is okay, but part of being taught is being able to see the humanity of the teacher. How can we do that via video?

  2. Sometimes I think these teachers are all put together & marketed in a way that makes us think we can never achieve what they've done. We study them instead of THE WORD. I’d rather hear what God has to say to me personally than what He says to someone else.

  3. I love video Bible studies. But it can be easy to just zip through homework just to fill in some blanks without really digging in and learning. And I do think some folks end up putting the teacher on too much of a pedestal.I have grieved the lack of women that know their Bible and step forward to lead and teach.Teach on, sister!

  4. I love your post (as usual)–it makes think. Video teaching may have its place,and yes, it can be intimidating to us “real” people out here if we’re compared. But it will never replace a real teacher who can look in our eyes as she’s talking directly to us and show she really cares, and we can talk back, ask questions, etc. I’ll take a real human over HD anyday. 🙂 Keep doing what you do!

  5. Well, you know I’m with you on this one…100%!!! Honestly, this past Tuesday night at our study of Esther, I thought to myself, “what is the point of my being here?” That being said, I know that I am needed to keep the discussion moving along. I had an interesting comment by one of the ladies. She simply said, “elaine, when are we going to do one of your studies?” I shrugged it off, feeling the weight of not having anything “good” to offer; feeling completely insecure at the thought of it. I’m good for a session or two or contemporaneous study, but haven’t yet taken the plunge to do a lengthier work with others. Several years ago, I purposed in my heart to be intentional about my personal study of God’s Word. Thankfully, I’ve done that with a few study tools alongside (my Bible dictionary, a simple commentary, and of course, some online strong’s word study stuff). God has been amazing to me when I’ve taken to my study; I just don’t know what he intends for me to fully do with it.I write it down most of the time, but I think he is challenging me in a further direction of obedience. Who knows? One day at a time, Lisa, one life at a time. We’ve all be called to make disciples of Jesus Christ and that takes times. I’m going to write about that in a couple of days. Tomorrow’s post will be a rant about provocative dress! Not my usual, yet something I wanted to write. Whew…more than you wanted here, I’m sure.So, did you decide on something or not? Hensley (sp?) Publishing has a lot of “get into the bible” sort of stuff. I’m going to do one on my own after we finish Esther. peace and joy to you this night~elaine

  6. Nothing can take the place of relationship. Teaching in small group settings borders on mentoring. We all need this desperately. Relationship with the teacher isn’t possible through DVDs. But it was, the way Jesus taught.

  7. Amen, Lisa!! I am SO with you on this one. I attend a large evangelical church that is 100% committed to the Word and expository preaching. Our women’s Bible study never uses video studies–we have our own gifted teachers–and we DIG into the word. It’s great.My frustration is that I have been a college professor, I know how to teach, and I have spoken to these women on occasion. I feel called to teach Bible study since I am no longer teaching at the college, but with so many gifted women in our church they seem to not need me. I have let our women’s ministry leader know that I am available and would love to teach, but she ignores me. I’m not sure what to do with that.Anyway, you bring up a fantastic point, and I’m so glad you did!

  8. I’m happy I found your blog through Elaine’s. I agree with what you say. Media has it’s place, but I do prefer a real person who isn’t perfect or famous, and in a setting that isn’t staged. I prefer a hard copy of the Bible to study over anything else.

  9. Thank you again for the call back to the study of God’s Word. It is what I am passionate about here in my litle country Canadian church, and on a day in which I was facing discouragement regarding my meager abilities to lead a study (we’re gathering tonight) I needed this post.

  10. I have to say, I have been part of Community Bible Study for the last couple years and it has really transformed my faith. We are not studying a topic we are digging into the word. One year Revelations, One year Genesis, Next year Acts. I think that topical Bible Studies are important if you are struggling in a certain area. I think Video can be great but for me nothing has compared to sitting around a table with a group of ladies discussing (and sometimes debating) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. What they did and what God wants us to learn from them. There is so much there I missed, even misinterpreted, before. Love this.

  11. Lisa, I visited at the encouragement of precious Elaine from peace for the journey. I’m sure glad that I did. I enjoyed the nuggets of truth found within your message. I look forward to visiting with you again. God bless you.

  12. Lisa, I’m so glad Elaine directed a link to this post. So wonderful to “meet” you and my heart is so in tune with your writing here.I too ‘facilitate’ a Ladies Bible Study. I have been leading weekly, ladies studies for over 10 years now. A couple of years ago I was getting discouraged…felt like I really wasn’t qualified…feeling very insecure. The Lord spoke to me so cleary during my time with Him one morning as I debated my purpose in the participation of presenting His Word. I read, from The Message: “Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:11 I have ‘stayed’.You are so blessed to be able to visit a Christian Bookstore. All of our stores have gone bankrupt. How I miss the pleasure of such an outing.Nice to “meet” you. I’ll be back.Blessings,Joy

  13. Lisa, your post today captured the very heart and soul of me. While I’m not teaching a Bible study, I am about to embark on a Sunday school class. I’m a pastor’s wife, so, ok, it won’t be the first time I’ve been asked to fill such a position. That being said, I know with all my heart God has opened this door. But I feel woefully inadequate. Thank you for your encouragement. Your words met me right where I’m living today.

  14. Yes! My heart and head are nodding in amen! We must be women of the Word, of sound doctrine, of strong theology! False doctrines are springing up everywhere and so many are falling prey. Knowing the Word of God is so important! Thank you for this post! It is wonderful to “meet” you! I’m a young mother, but God has called me to teach, to encourage, to exhort and to exemplify HIM! I feel inadequate most of the time, but I’m so glad it doesn’t depend on my capabilities, but on HIS!

  15. I’m so glad I found this blog, and I have to agree with you. There are many bibles studies at our church, and all but one use a television and a video. I don’t find it strange that the one who uses a genuine person is the one who has all the people attending.Blessings to you!

  16. Hi Lisa:I am but one of a list here it seems that found your blog through Elaine’s.I am so glad she recommended we pop over. This was a great post and apparently from the other comments thoughts that have been on many a mind.I must echo Mocha with Linda’s comments. When I am in a Bible Study with a workbook and DVD I do tend to just zip through the homework to fill in the blanks. I always have questions and think “I’ll come back to that” and then I’m off to the next lesson, the next study and my questions go unanswered for lack of digging.I also have to be careful about putting the teachers up on a pedestal. It is so easy to do.I would much rather have a group of women sit down at a round table with their Bibles and some preparation and share/study/dig together. It is so much more a treasure when you find it yourself.Thanks again for the post and thanks to Elaine for encouraging us to come read it.Blessings,Marita

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