In my previous post, I mentioned that Bible studies were little more than: “half-full glasses of lukewarm water in the midst of a week-long heat wave on a 100+ degree day” … that they were shallow and unsatisfying. In a recent conversation, my mentor pointed out to me the reason why so many women’s bible studies in particular were insufficient.
Women are: _____ and Men are: ______
What one word do you fill in that blank with? Let’s say you’re going to write a Bible Study and you need to group as many people as possible into the same group. Go ahead and fall back on stereotypes – this exercise will be easier.
Relational / Analytical
Followers / Leaders
Emotional / Logical
If your audience is primarily an Emotional, Relational Follower (or so you think) then your focus will be on writing relatable anecdotes, tugging on heart strings, and connecting emotionally with your reader. Your material need not be complex or else you might cause confusion. Your fall-backs will bell pop psychology and self-help techniques with a focus on fellowship.
If your audience is primarily an Analytical, Logical, Leader (or so you think) then your focus will be on facts, information, figures, statistics, and where theology is concerned, apologetics, systematic theology, and concrete metaphors – like tools or cars, something your audience will have a lot of hands-on experience with.
If your audience includes an outlier – a logical woman or a relational man, then they should be made to feel as if there’s something broken in them that they should repent of so that can be just like everyone else. While you’re at it, ignore the fact that God made everyone unique and therefore there are women who have what it takes to be a pastor and men who have what it takes to be a nurturer. That’s how God words, using the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise, the poor to shame the rich … everyone the world would say is “lesser” really isn’t in God’s kingdom.
I get it now, that I’m in all the wrong studies … but so long as I’m an outlier, there’s really nothing I can do to change the situation in church. I can’t quit being me, I can’t repent of how God designed me to be, and I can’t change who I am to suit them. Perhaps an Outlier Bible Study should be started that alternates men’s and women’s studies, so that everybody’s needs can be balanced and satisfied. Perhaps we just need to quit grouping people into labels and accept our unique callings and gifts for what they are meant to be – used to build up the church and encourage each other.