January Bible Study traces roots to post-WWII era in American church life

It was a call to return to Bible study in the local church following World War II that launched the January Bible Study, according to a team leader at Lifeway Christian Resources. The January Bible Study, first produced by the Baptist Sunday School Board, debuted in 1948.

“There was the idea that if they had some type of special Bible study, it might be a way for the church to recapture some folks who had dropped out and gain folks who weren’t a part of a Bible study group or a church at all,” Dwayne McCrary said during a recent episode of Baptist Press This Week.

McCrary leads adult ongoing Bible studies at Lifeway.

The original Bible study was on the book of Ephesians, he said. This year marks 75 years of the study, and it is turning again to Ephesians.

McCrary is excited about some of the topics covered in the study.

“The key ideas of new life in Christ, a walk worthy, the unity of believers and spiritual warfare. We can see why those things would’ve been important following World War II, but we can also see why those topics would be important for us today as well,” he said.

Reading versus studying

He encourages students of the Bible to use the fresh start of a new year to engage in Bible study. He says there is a real difference in simply reading the Bible versus studying the Bible.

“I’m going to underline, I’m going to highlight, I’m probably going to go back and reread some things to see how they relate to what I just read,” said McCrary.

“I’m going to spend time really digging into that and thinking about what that means for me. And that’s how we should approach a Bible study. We need to stop and take time to reflect on it and think about what it means for us in our own personal lives.”

Slowing down is another tip he offers for Bible study.

“We have to stop and really evaluate that (the text). And you can’t do that in five minutes or 10 minutes. You’ve got to spend some time thinking about that through the day,” he explained.

Being a part of a small group Bible study or Sunday School class is also important to grow as a student of God’s word, he said.

“Being involved in an ongoing Bible study group makes a world of difference when it comes to studying the Bible as an individual,” McCrary said.


EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Brandon Porter and originally published by Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.