Free Online Bible Study Course

free Bible study course

Serious Bible study is hard work. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Whether you read the Bible every day or you’re opening it for the first time, the right tools can help you see the Bible in powerful new ways—without taking hours of your time.

That’s why we created a free, 30 day course to help you start doing better Bible study.

Read more…

Do You Use Discussion Questions in Christian Books?

Discussion questions in Christian books
If you read Christian books, it’s not uncommon to find yourself looking at a list of questions at the end of each chapter. These questions encourage you to interact with the material on a personal level, and help you process what you’re learning. Sometimes they’re designed for groups. Sometimes they’re just for you.

What I want to know is, “Do people use them?”

God’s Favorite Place on Earth
God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola makes great use of discussion questions.

Recently I’ve been reading When Helping Hurts, which utilizes questions like these at both the beginning and the end of each chapter. At the start of each chapter, these questions are intended to gauge your current understanding of the subject at hand (in this case, poverty alleviation). They also help you see how your current perceptions stack up against what you’re learning in the text. At the end of the chapter, follow-up questions ask you to reflect on your original thoughts and see how new insights may have changed your response. These questions help highlight specific areas that you’re growing.

While I understand the value of these questions, I never use them.

I’ve always seen these questions as “conversation starters” for reading groups. They’re touch points for creating a larger dialogue about the subject. That may not be accurate, but when I’m reading a book by myself, that perception makes it easier to skim over these questions without feeling like I’m missing something.

To find out if this was just me, I headed to and posed the question to almost 400 Faithlife employees.

Studies in Faithful Living Patriarchs Collection: Complete Church Curriculum
Looking for small group material? Check out Studies in Faithful Living Patriarchs Collection.

Fred Sprinkle from design said he never reads discussion questions. He says, “Maybe it’s because I already feel like I’m reading enough. Or, perhaps I shy away from anything that reminds me of a school test or assignment. I might feel different if I was trying to lead a book group though.”

Similarly, Matt Miller says, “The ones I’ve encountered are tailored more as devices for recall of the content rather than instruments to encourage critical thinking.”

Not everyone was opposed to discussion questions though. There were just as many people in support of them.

“I think discussion questions are always helpful because they can help you apply the material or draw your own conclusions based on the text,” says Abby Salinger from Lexham Press.

For those who reflect on what they read through writing in a journal, discussion questions are useful writing prompts.

“I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new devotional, Savor, and I’m finding the short discussion questions to be great prompts for journal writing, reflection, and prayer,” says Erin Land from Vyrso. “Discussion questions are great in devotionals, but I don’t think I’ve used them much elsewhere in Christian books.”

DIY Bible Study
DIY Bible Study is a highly interactive Christian resource—it includes questions, videos, devotionals, and more.

When what you’re reading is designed to be a brief mediation or a segue into personal reflection and prayer, questions help you make a smooth transition from the author’s thoughts to your own. If each chapter is only a piece of the overall message though, or you read several chapters in a row, questions before and after each chapter can feel like an overwhelming interruption to your study.

The common thread I noticed through this conversation about discussion questions was that people like questions that make them think. That’s why we read—to expand our perspective and think about the material in new ways. Questions that ask you to recall information or that “test” your understanding of the subject matter aren’t as valuable when you aren’t preparing for an exam or an essay.

Justin Marr from Lexham Press put it this way: “I find them helpful as long as they’re open ended. Questions that demand specific answers aren’t as conducive for introspection and application.”

So what do you think?

Tell us why you use discussion questions (or why you don’t) in the comments!

Logos 6 Is Here: The World’s Best Bible Software Just Got Better

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We’ve just released Logos 6—the most powerful Bible software on the planet. Take your place at the forefront of biblical studies: get Logos 6 now.

More than 20 years ago, Logos Bible Software revolutionized the way people study the Word of God. Today, Logos has built on over two decades of technology-based Bible study to bring you Logos 6.

Bob Pritchett, CEO of Faithlife, says, “Logos 6 is all about delivering insight. Building on the innovations in Logos 4 and 5, the new release features new tools for exploring the Bible, connecting it to ancient and modern literature, and sharing your insights with others.”

To create Logos 6, we built tools that don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

Interconnected ancient literature

With Logos 6’s new Ancient Literature tool, you can unearth powerful connections between the Bible and ancient texts, so you get a clearer picture of the Bible’s background and historical impact on various cultures.

Pritchett says, “We’ve had scholars tag every cultural concept in the Bible, then extend that tagging to other ancient literature. This is a unique new database that helps you see connections that were nearly impossible to find before.”

Search any verse in the Passage Guide, and the Ancient Literature tool helps you see connections to the Talmud, Mishna, Judaic literature, Apostolic Fathers, Philo, and more.

This tool does all the heavy lifting for you—so you can do scholarly work, whether or not you have a degree.

Interactive Media

Logos 6 is packed with new ways to help you visualize the biblical world. Interactive infographics, one of our new lines of Interactive Media, are textbook illustrations come to life. Whether you’re studying on your own, or teaching a group, Logos 6 helps you conceptualize the armor of God, temples, altars, and more. Interactive Media combines scholarly descriptions of ancient concepts with visual representations to maximize your learning.

Smarter language tools

No matter your Greek and Hebrew background, brand-new Greek and Hebrew Alphabet Tutors will help you master the biblical languages. The Greek tutor lets you choose from three common pronunciations: Koine, Erasmian, and Modern Greek. Interactive Media helps you practice each letter and provides common lemmas associated with it.


Don’t know Greek or Hebrew? Now you can learn it!

These same tools that help scholars and students master the biblical languages can also help you get started. Learning to read and write Greek and Hebrew has never been easier. Start from the beginning, and learn how to read and write each letter with audio and interactive visual aides.

Insightful resources for Psalms and Proverbs

Logos 6 introduces the revolutionary Psalms Explorer and Proverbs Explorer—Interactive Media that helps you visually understand and sort the Psalms and Proverbs by genre, topic, theme, and more.

Take a look at the Psalms Explorer:


You can instantly sort and view the Psalms by form, structure, and more. The size of each Psalm in the browser corresponds to its size in the text. Genres are distinguished by color, so when you select an author like David, at a glance, you can see that a vast majority of the Psalms he wrote are laments. The Psalms Explorer helps you see connections and deliver insight in exciting new ways.

Logos 6’s new Interactive Media creates a Bible study experience unlike anything in existence.

Make Logos 6 yours

Right now, it’s easier than ever to get the base package that’s right for you. If you’re signed into your Faithlife account, we can even make a personal recommendation for you, based on the resources and tools you already own.

Get Logos 6 today, and revolutionize your Bible study.

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If you got Logos 5 in the last 6 months, we’ve got a unique, limited-time-upgrade deal just for you. Call our sales team at 888-875-9491 to see what we’ve got for you.

5 Ways to Use Community Notes

bible margin notes
Margin notes are great, but Community Notes are better!

Create a Faithlife Group, and start using Community Notes today.

There are a lot of ways Faithlife Groups can improve your Bible study or small group.

One of them is the revolutionary Bible study tool, Community Notes.

When you reread your favorite passages of Scripture or your favorite books, your margin notes remind you of insights, revelations, or interpretations you’ve encountered in the text. With Community Notes, you can effortlessly share those same insights with your family, your small group, or your ministry team.

Every time you create a Community Note, select which Faithlife Group you want to share it with. Whenever you open your Faithlife Study Bible, Vyrso App, or Logos Bible Software, you can toggle which groups’ Community Notes you want to see as you read along. That means you can see the Community Notes of your entire Christian community, or you can isolate it to your small group, your family, or your ministry team.

Here are five ways you can use Community Notes to get more from your Bible study:

1. Study interactively

When your Faithlife Group studies a passage together, Community Notes let you pose questions to the group, right from your Bible, directly into theirs. You can even comment on a Community Note, so you can point someone to related Scripture, or even a relevant book in your library. You can also use a particular passage as a spring board for deeper questions, and encourage your whole group to respond.

2. Follow along with your pastor

Your pastor is one of the greatest resources you have in your church. But think about how exhausting it would be for your pastor to personally invest time to study with every individual member of the congregation.

Your pastor already spends a lot of time in personal Bible study. As a member of the congregation, you are indirectly learning from your pastor’s Bible study all the time through their teaching and counsel. Creating a Faithlife Group for your pastor means you get to learn directly from their personal study as well. Every note your pastor writes on a passage can become an opportunity for your church to grow.

Encourage your pastor to help you grow, using the studies they’re already doing!

3. Hold each other accountable

Community Notes are a great way to show each other that you are reading and wrestling with Scripture. If you’re setting reading goals with your friends or family, sometimes it’s hard to know if everyone is on track—especially with young kids or people who don’t like to read. Setting goals that incorporate Community Notes provides a tangible way to hold each other accountable.

Depending on the group, you could set a goal like one Community Note per chapter, or one per paragraph. Setting goals with Community Notes asks people to not just read Scripture, but to process it.

And encouraging someone to process Scripture is like asking them to chew their food.

4. Learn what to focus on

If you’re a small group leader, Community Notes can help you prepare for your next meeting. If your group actively uses Community Notes to point to the verses or passages they struggle with, then you can prepare to spend your time on those areas, and assemble any necessary materials before you meet.

Without Community Notes, you could prepare a great lesson or discussion on a verse or passage no one had questions about. Community Notes help you invest in the areas your group needs the most help processing.

5. Grow with your whole church

Faithlife Groups aren’t limited to small groups. Thousands of churches across the globe have Faithlife Groups that are open to their entire church.

Your church is full of wise, intelligent people that you can learn and grow with.

Community Notes help you tap into your church’s collective wisdom.

Start small, and invite church members you know, or go big, and approach your congregation or leadership team. When you share your wisdom with others you help build up the body of Christ.

Start using Community Notes today! Learn more here.

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If your small group isn’t using a Faithlife Group yet, you’re missing out on prayer lists, shared reading plans, Community Notes, and more. Faithlife Groups are the ultimate church communication tool. The best part is, they’re absolutely free.

How to Ask Big Questions in Your Small Group

small group convoSmall groups are some of the best places to dig into life’s deepest questions. In a good small group with close friends and fellow believers, you can share what you really think without being attacked or belittled for your opinions. It’s one of the safest settings to honestly discuss theology.

But how and when do you start these conversations?

If your small group has any dominant personalities, then having a theological discussion in person makes it hard for everyone to speak their mind.

Group messages can get messy, and even annoying. It’s too hard to track who is responding to what. A really active group message traps everyone in the conversation.

Email conversations can be a nightmare, flooding your inbox with one conversation. When each response creates a separate chain for the conversation, it’s too easy to get lost, or accidentally ignore someone’s thoughtful response.

So what do you do?

If your small group has a Faithlife Group, these deep conversations are easy.

The “discussions” tab is your small group’s own personal forum. As with everything in your Faithlife Group, you determine who can see your discussions (in this case, you probably want “members only”).

In “discussions,” you can create a new thread on any topic you want, and your group can see the most active topics at a glance.

Your conversations stay organized within the thread, and the threads are neatly tucked in the discussions tab—so the conversation can continue on the side without taking over your small group.

Say you want to have a conversation about Christian dating.

These conversations can be great in person, but creating a discussion in your Faithlife Group lets everyone take as much time as they need to thoughtfully respond.

After people answer, you can skim over the responses to quickly get a sense of everyone’s thoughts.

If your small group wants to discuss a topic together, a Faithlife Group is a great way to test the waters and see where everyone is at, before diving in together at your next meeting. It’s also a good way to make sure you don’t open a can of worms in the middle of Bible study.

Share directly from books you’re reading together

In Faithlife Groups, you can quote directly from resources you own in Logos Bible Software, or your Faithlife Study Bible.

Right now, one of my good friends is exploring Catholicism. He gave me Rome Sweet Home as part of a wedding present.

Having a conversation about the book using a Faithlife Group means that when he quotes Scott Hahn‘s argument about 2 Thessalonians 2:15, I can use Logos to pull up everything in my library on that verse and take the time to produce a thoughtful, educated response, rather than drawing from my immediate reaction.

Use discretion, know your small group

Even within the comfort of your small group, people’s convictions can create barriers to discussion. Knowing the people in your small group helps you decide if it’s a good idea to bring up a particular topic.

Use your discussions to build each other up (Proverbs 27:17), not to tear each other down (2 Timothy 2:23).

What are you discussing with your small group right now? Tell us in the comments!

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If your small group isn’t using a Faithlife Group yet, you’re missing out on prayer lists, shared reading plans, Community Notes, and more. Faithlife Groups are the ultimate church communication tool. The best part is, they’re absolutely free.

The 10 F’s of Bible Study


If you’re anything like me, you know how hard it can be to settle on a Bible study.

You want to grow, and you know having a solid Bible study group is a part of that. But there are so many factors that determine whether or not a Bible study group is the right fit for you.

Sometimes it just takes patience to really feel like you’re part of the group and like you have a place there. Even among believers, you can feel like strangers. It takes time to get past that stage of any relationship.

Make no mistake—if you want to grow spiritually and get the most from your Bible study group, relationships matter.

But it’s not always a matter of patience. Sometimes, something really is missing.

If you’re wondering if that’s the case for your Bible study, you need to ask yourself: is your small group following the 10 F’s of Bible study?

1. Fellowship

For more on fellowship, get Designed to Be Like Him by J. Dwight Pentecost

If you want a Bible study that makes a difference in your life, fellowship matters (Acts 2:42).

Fellowship is a connection that goes deeper than friendship—it’s founded not on worldly experiences, but on the spiritual values you share, like prayer, faith, love, and Christ.

The Faithlife Study Bible points out that the word used for fellowship in Acts 2:42 “denotes sharing something.” It goes on to say, “the early church formed a tight community based on what they had in common spiritually and physically.”

Growing up, I used to think fellowship was a formal Christian term for “friendship”. It was a nice word you said when you wanted to tell someone that you valued your relationship with them.

But fellowship is so much more than that. Fellowship is born out of shared faith, and it grows into personal prayer, wisdom, and love.

Fellowship isn’t some elusive quality you hunt for and discover—it’s the interaction of a community of believers. (click to tweet).

Like friendship, the more experiences you share together, the stronger your fellowship grows. The more you pray, eat, grow, and live together, the more your Bible study reflects the biblical relationships it’s modeled after (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

2. Food

Some people don’t like it when a small group tries to have a meal together. It takes time away from their family or other important tasks. In some cases, it’s simply the knowledge that having a meal together means that Bible study eats up more of their schedule (for those people, I would point back to #1).

Consider this note from the FSB on that same verse, Acts 2:42:

The early church’s fellowship is evidenced by their communal meals. The breaking of bread could allude to participation in the Lord’s Supper. In such a case, their unity focused on the person and work of Jesus” (emphasis mine).

Eating together does a number of things:

It forces us to slow down.

It allows us to provide and care for each other.

It lets us share our homes in a more personal way.

It creates opportunities for casual conversation. You know how valuable it is to have other perspectives as you study Scripture, why not soak in other perspectives about life?

Or, this can also be a more focused time to discover how we can pray for each other.

While eating dinner with some friends a while back, someone asked: “If God said to you, ‘I’ll change one thing about you right now—whatever you want,’ what would you ask him to change?” We each went around the table sharing some of our deepest insecurities—the things we are constantly aware of in the back of our minds. When we were done sharing, my friend said, “Thanks guys, now I know how I can be praying for you.”

The question slipped into our casual conversation so naturally that our responses were genuine glimpses into our hearts, not canned answers served up for formal occasions.

You can learn a lot about people when you take the time to eat together.

3. Friendship

As stated earlier, friendship and fellowship are similar, but they’re not completely synonymous.

I think you can have fellowship with someone you wouldn’t consider a friend, and you can be a friend with someone you do not have fellowship with. Each takes a different kind of relational investment. Croft M. Pentz says, “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.”

Fellowship means spiritually investing in each others’ lives. Friendship means physically investing in each others’ lives.

Don’t wait until the next time your small group meets to talk with each other. If someone asks for prayer about something big in their lives, pray for them—but don’t stop there.

Maybe there’s a particular day looming over them: back to school, a wedding, a funeral, a doctor’s appointment. Pray, and then reach out to them. Text them. Call them. Visit them. Show them that their life matters to you. People are busy, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to not show our brothers and sisters that we love them.

With a weekly or monthly Bible study, it’s too easy to separate our small group members from the rest of our lives. It lets us compartmentalize, and assign their friendship to Thursday nights, or Monday mornings.

Not everyone can enjoy the blessing of having a Bible study with their closest friends, or people they see every day. But when Jesus calls us his friends, I think we can make an effort to be friends with his other friends (John 15:15).

4. Family

For more on family and faith, read The Fulfilled Family by John MacArthur.

For some people, having a designated time for Bible study means a much needed break from family.

It means a chance to focus on the relationship that matters most (the relationship that makes them a better parent and spouse). Studying the Word with other believers is a time for them to take a breath before changing another diaper or resolving another argument.

For others, time away from family is stressful. “Small group night” means one spouse is left to care for all the kids.

And it makes every second count.

It’s important to respect each others’ families. Remember, most people’s priorities probably look something like this: God, family, work, everything else.

Part of respecting each others’ families is being conscious of how you use the time you have for Bible study. If someone’s spouse is left to hold down the fort with four kids back home, it probably isn’t a great idea to have half an hour of small talk before cracking open a Bible or bringing Jesus into the conversation.

At the same time, if leaving your family is hard for you or your spouse, it might be a good idea to find a Bible study where your family is welcome.

Growing up, my parents were part of a Bible study with several other couples who had kids. We would all gather in one home, and it gave the parents the chance to get into life and the Word together, while trusting that their kids were in good hands downstairs (where we were far enough away to not be a distraction, but close enough to grab a parent if things turned into Lord of the Flies).

If you share the most important part of your lives with people in your Bible study (God), why not share the second most important part?

Getting to know each others’ families helps your friendship and fellowship grow as you pursue Christ together. Knowing someone’s family adds a whole new layer of context to every trial you bear together.

If you have kids, maybe that sounds impossible to you.

It’s easy to feel like sharing your family with others is a burden. Your kids wear you out, so how could you ask someone else to spend so much time with them?

Let me tell you a secret: sharing your kids isn’t always a burden.

As a young, newly married man, I love spending time with the kids of my older friends. I know when I offer to take care of their kids, I’m serving my friends—for a moment, I get to lighten the load. As someone without kids of my own, it’s also great practice for when I someday become a parent myself. When my wife and I babysit together, it gives us the chance to see how the other interacts with kids, and glimpse a side of each other we don’t normally see.

The bottom line is, your family is part of what makes you who you are.

If you want to get the most from your small group or Bible study, you should know each other’s families. It’s tricky to find a system that works for your family, and if it doesn’t work for your small group to include your families, learn how to love each other by respecting each others’ time.

As the body of Christ, we are all part of a much bigger spiritual family (Mark 10:29–30, Matthew 12:46–50), and if we truly love each other, we will learn to love each others’ families.

5. Frequency

Some of the best friends in my life are the ones I can go years without seeing, and still feel like nothing has changed when we’re reunited. Our lives can move miles apart, but our friendship transcends time, distance, and even silence.

For me at least, small groups don’t work like that.

Sure, I can hop into any group that’s studying the Word and know I’m going to learn something. I’m comfortable talking about God and sharing my life in a setting like that, even if I don’t see everyone regularly or know anything about anyone beyond the fact that they’re believers.

But if I go weeks, or months without connecting with my small group, how can they hold me accountable, or keep up with what’s going on in my life?

The more frequently you meet with your small group or Bible study, the more intimately involved you can be in each others’ lives.

You can follow up on prayer requests, or ask about a struggle or temptation someone was dealing with. You can actively walk through life together, instead of getting a summary a month later.

The longer you wait between meetings, the more you will have to either play catch up or rely on notes.

Talk to each other, and find the right balance between respecting each others’ time and investing in each others’ lives.

6. Faith

For more on faith, get your free copy of What Is Faith? by R.C. Sproul.
For more on faith, get your free copy of What Is Faith? by R.C. Sproul.

Incorporating faith into your small group may seem obvious, but it’s important to recognize that again, there are tons of Bible studies with tons of different purposes.

For some small groups, it would be completely inappropriate to make faith a prerequisite.

I’ve spent the last few years working in outreach ministry with middle school kids. Some of the kids in my small groups have grown up in the church, and for others, it’s the first time they’ve opened up the Bible.

In that context, the structure of the small group focuses on helping the least experienced member learn and grow. If someone is exploring God, I might ask them what they’d like me to pray about for them, but I’m not going to ask them to open or close our time in prayer.

There is certainly value in reading and discussing the Bible with nonbelievers, but some of small group’s greatest treasures stem from shared belief in Jesus.

In 10,000 Sermon Illustrations, one example says, “Everyone has faith in something—faith in some religion, faith in one’s self, faith in fate, faith in evolution, faith in mankind. Even the atheist has faith in his own reason. But there is only one real faith that works for time and eternity.”

Which “faith” leads us to grow in Christ?

If your own personal growth is your goal when you choose a small group, you should surround yourself with people who will pray for you, encourage you, and challenge you with the power of the Holy Spirit.

If faith isn’t present, it could be why you aren’t growing in the ways you need to (Hebrews 11:3).

7. Fun

The Bible isn’t boring. Your small group isn’t a college class. You are people, exploring God’s Word and living life together in light of what his Word reveals to you. You share knowledge of the greatest truth the world has ever known. That’s something to be joyful about.

Some of your greatest experiences of fellowship can come through some of the most fun things you do with your small group. Like food, fun creates an entirely different environment for you to share, interact, and love the people in your small group. What that fun looks like is totally dependent on the people in your group.

For my small group with middle school students, sometimes fun means we play basketball or Frisbee before we get into the Word together. Other times, it means we play video games and drink Mountain Dew. For older small groups, we’ve gone bowling or played board games.

It all depends on the people you have, and the best ways to get them together. Personally, I’m not a fan of bowling at all. I’m terrible at it (I’m lucky if I can hit 70). But I can go, and I can enjoy it, because I know how important it is to have fun together and just enjoy each other’s company.

When your small group looks like a checklist (confession, prayer, Bible, prayer), it can make people feel like checkmarks too. Don’t let your small group get stuck in a routine—break the mold, and have fun together.

8. Freedom

In the group of people you choose to share life with, you should feel free to share as much (or as little) as you want about your life. The more deeply you pry into your heart and the more honest you are with yourself and your peers, the more you discover just how much God loves you.

If you don’t feel comfortable confessing something to your fellow believers, it makes it that much harder to move through it, and it turns asking for prayer into a delicate dance. Be open. Be honest. Share your lives with each other (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13).

Still, there are a lot of factors that could restrict the freedom someone feels in their small group.

The questions you ask your small group should be invitations, not instructions. (click to tweet).

If your questions are too specific or narrow, it may lead someone to feel like what they have to share is inappropriate. Encourage each other to share what comes to mind as you reflect on a passage, or what someone else has shared.

There are a lot of reasons why gossip is toxic. One of those reasons is that it destroys trust. If your small group members can’t trust each other, they won’t feel free to share what they need to.

It may feel strange to have to tell adults not to discuss other people’s personal lives outside of small group, but gossip isn’t something we just “grow out of,” nor is it a problem that’s isolated to youth. It’s sin, and we aren’t immune to its temptations.

Sometimes when people have the freedom to say whatever is on their mind, they say things we don’t agree with. Let them. The way you respond to someone else’s thoughts can quickly determine the freedom of the group.

I’m not saying you can’t disagree with someone—because you most certainly will. When you disagree with someone, respond out of love for the person, not hate for the idea. (click to tweet).

Help everyone get the most out of your small group by creating an environment that creates freedom—not one that restricts it.

9. Forgiveness

For more biblical perspective on forgiveness,  check out Dr. Jay Adams’ book, From Forgiven to Forgiving
For biblical perspective on forgiveness, check out From Forgiven to Forgiving by Dr. Jay Adams

Ken Sande, founder of Peacemaker Ministries and president of Relational Wisdom 360, says, “Christians are the most forgiven people in the world. Therefore, we should be the most forgiving people in the world.”

Scripture says something similar in Matthew 6:12, Colossians 3:13, and Ephesians 4:32.

If the call to forgiveness extends to all our neighbors, shouldn’t it be all the more true in our small groups, where we’re surrounded by believers?

Our church is not immune to sin. It isn’t a bubble where humans suddenly cannot sin when they enter. Its members are not blind to our actions.

Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes we hurt each other. Christians are still humans, but the difference is how we respond to sin—in ourselves, and in others.

Ken Sande goes on to say about forgiveness:

“It is impossible to truly forgive others in your own strength, especially when they have hurt you deeply or betrayed your trust. You can try not to think about what they did or stuff your feelings deep inside and put on a false smile when you see them. But unless your heart is cleansed and changed by God, the memories and the feelings will still be lurking in the background, poisoning your thoughts and words, and preventing the rebuilding of trust and relationship.

There is only one way to overcome these barriers, and that is to admit that you cannot forgive in your own strength and that you desperately need God to come in and change your heart.” —The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

Genuine forgiveness is a key component of authentic fellowship, and fostering an environment where people feel free to share their lives, their hurts, and their deepest struggles.

Holding grudges (no matter how small) will hold your small group back from experiencing everything Christian community has to offer.

10. Formality

Just kidding.

The Bible is sacred and serious. Its implications are eternal. But the way you study the Word of God together doesn’t always have to be structured. You don’t need a template—you just need the Bible, each other, and the Holy Spirit.

Any structure you implement in your small group should be prayerfully considered, and agreed upon by the group. If it doesn’t serve the group, what purpose does it serve? Anything you do together should be discussed together—even if one person is leading the small group.

Everyone is free to choose to come to your small group or not. It’s safe to assume that people choose to come when they feel the small group is beneficial. So add things to your small group when the small group believes it will benefit everyone. Don’t decide for people what they need or don’t need without first hearing their thoughts.

For more on small groups, check out the Small Groups with Purpose Collection:

Small Groups with Purpose Collection

What are the best parts of your small group? Share with us in the comments!

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Faithlife makes it easier to stay connected to your small group. Create custom reading plans or choose from over 45 premade reading plans. Share prayer requests throughout the week and make Community Notes right in the text, so you can share your thoughts when you have them. Study together, even when you’re not together. Start a small group on Faithlife today!

Equip Yourself to Dive into the Bible

In the information age, it’s hard to spend as much time as you want in Scripture. You’re constantly bombarded with more information than you can handle, so you have to constantly prioritize and filter the things that matter and the things that don’t. And that’s what makes Bible study feel like a paradox. You know you’re supposed to see all Scripture as valuable (2 Timothy 3:16). But when you’re dragging yourself through lists of names and types of sacrifices, the treasure of Scripture can feel like it’s slipping through your fingers. That’s because jumping into the Bible without any understanding of context is like diving into the ocean from a helicopter with no equipment. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, it won’t be pleasant. Equip yourself for the dive with Logos 5.

Of course, with the right translation, you can find parts of the Bible that you can read without difficulty. Maybe you enjoy the powerful stories of the Old Testament, or the beautiful picture of love in the Gospels, or the challenging representations of faith in the early church. There are always parts of the ocean that you can swim in, but without the right knowledge and tools at your disposal, there’s still a whole ocean you’ll never see.

In Bible study, these tools are commentaries, key theological texts, Bible dictionaries, and works by popular pastors and Bible teachers. On their own, each of these resources has something to offer your Bible study. For the casual reader and the average Christian, however, the walls of text that often accompany these valuable tools makes them too intimidating. Even if you own one, a Bible dictionary or commentary can make Bible study feel like more work, and you don’t end up reading as much of the Bible. With Logos, that all changes. Logos links all of your texts together, and every verse is linked to every resource you own that references it.

One of the most important parts of reading Scripture is taking the time to reflect on it. Whether you set a goal to read one chapter a day or five chapters a day, what do you gain from it if you don’t take a moment to reflect on what you’ve read? The truths of individual verses can get lost if they don’t stand out to you right away. Important contextual information is easiest to skim over, but it’s some of the most important content when interpreting what that Scripture means for your life thousands of years later. When you read Scripture with Logos, you can spend as much time as you want reflecting on a single verse. Right now, your library could have hundreds, even thousands of references to the verses you read today in your personal devotions. If you wanted to track them down, you’d have to spend hours flipping through books to find what you’re looking for. Even if you’re organized and you’ve carefully sorted your library, you have better things to do than scanning sticky notes, underlines, and margin notes. Logos is more organized than any physical library could ever be. A single search in Logos can save you hours—and that adds up.

When talking about Logos 5, Mark A. Kellner from Washington Times said, “If studying the Bible is something of professional or personal interest, there is, right now, nothing else that comes close.” Logos 5’s datasets add a whole new dimension to your Bible study and bring lists of names, places, and dates to life. You can’t get these datasets anywhere else. Here’s how Sean Boisen, Logos’ director of content innovation explains it:

Don’t let yourself feel like the Bible is too deep or difficult to navigate. Get Logos 5, and you’ll have all the tools you need to plunge into Scripture. Turn every verse into a diving board and see what depths your Bible study can take you. If you already have Logos, but you don’t have Logos 5, upgrade today and take advantage of your very own custom upgrade discount!

The 9 Major Types of Bible Study Tools

Bible study tools come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common resources usually fit into one of a few basic categories. They each have a specific purpose to aid your studies.

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of different kinds of Bible study tools and what they can do for you, along with some suggested resources to get you started.

Bible dictionary

Bible dictionaries are a lot like English dictionaries, but they are focused on biblical words. Rather than providing modern definitions, they describe what a given word means when used in the Bible. They often include details like the meanings of biblical names. Some more technical Bible dictionaries will include references to the Greek and Hebrew, while others stick to the English.

Bible encyclopedia

Bible encyclopedias are similar to Bible dictionaries in concept, but they are greater in scope. While dictionaries typically have short entries for quick reference, encyclopedias tend to have longer articles covering people, places, events, objects, and more as found in the Bible. Bible encyclopedias often go into much greater historical and cultural detail than dictionaries.

Both Bible dictionaries and Bible encyclopedias are organized alphabetically by topic. When you get one from, you’ll see links to it in your study notes whenever the text you’re reading mentions a topic it addresses. In this way, your FSB app gets more detailed and powerful as you add resources from


Commentaries go verse by verse or passage by passage through the Bible, or through a particular section of the Bible. This system of organization is called “versification” because it follows the book, chapter, and verse structure of the biblical text. Commentaries are meant to be used in parallel with the Bible’s text, offering explanations, insights, textual notes, historical background, and more. Most commentaries also include introductions to the books of the Bible, providing details such the book’s author, as well as when, where, and why it was written.

Study Bible

Study Bibles combine multiple study tools (such as a Bible dictionary and commentary) into one relatively compact volume. Like commentaries, study Bibles are versified, but the notes in study Bibles are usually much more concise and to the point than full commentaries. When sold in print, the text of the Bible is placed right alongside or above the notes and articles. The world’s largest, most advanced study Bible is free! If you’re not already using it, get your free Faithlife Study Bible now. You can also add notes from other study Bibles to your FSB.

Versified resources like commentaries and study Bibles offer a great alternative to the study notes included in your FSB app. If you’d like to survey multiple opinions while you study, add a commentary set or another study Bible to your FSB, and you can quickly switch between them.


Concordances are designed to help you find things in the Bible. Basic concordances have fallen out of popularity, due to the ease of searching digital Bibles. However, the more advanced concordances are still useful, due to their ability to search by topics and themes or even people and places, rather than simple word searches.


Harmonies take books of the Bible that overlap one another in content, and they show how the books fit together. They reorganize the biblical content to flow chronologically, so you can find parallel passages more easily. The most common variety are Gospel harmonies, combining the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; however, harmonies also exist for other books, such as Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Many harmonies only include Scripture references, while others place the actual texts in parallel columns. A few harmonies actually combine the four Gospels into a single text that flows chronologically.


Lectionaries are reading plans for the Bible that group texts into weekly readings. They often span three-year cycles, designated year A, year B, and year C. The idea is to provide believers around the world with a shared reading schedule. While some lectionaries include only the readings themselves, others include reflections on the texts.


Devotionals are one of the most common Bible study tools, but they have wide variety among them. Some focus on a book or passage of the Bible, while others focus on a certain topic, while others still cover multiple topics. Some devotionals include a year’s worth of reading, while others only last for a month. Some are meant to be read in the morning, while others are meant to be read at evening, while others still have entries for both morning and evening.

Bible atlas

Bible atlases are collections of maps that show the world as it was in Bible times. They are helpful for seeing how different biblical locations fit together. Many Bible atlases show the paths followed by biblical people during their travels.

All the study tools you see here can be enjoyed in your free Faithlife Study Bible app. Buy one from each category, and you’ll have a robust Bible study library that will serve you well for years to come.

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Serious Bible study is easier with serious Bible study software. The Faithlife Study Bible is a great place to start, but if you’d like to study in greater detail, Logos 5 is for you. Its powerful, intuitive tools and vast libraries are the perfect way to expand your understanding of the Scriptures. Visit to learn more.

What God Meant: “Like Newborn Infants, Long for the Pure Spiritual Milk”

Biblical writers use several different word pictures to help us understand the power and function of Scripture.

At different times, the Bible is compared to:

  • Light (Psalm 119:105)
  • A mirror (James 1:23)
  • Fire (Jeremiah 23:29)
  • A hammer (Jeremiah 23:29)
  • A sword (Hebrews 4:12)
  • Milk (1 Peter 2:2)
  • Food (1 Corinthians 3:2)

It’s those last two that can be a little confusing. In 1 Peter 2:2, the comparison to milk seems to be a favorable one. Peter’s admonition is for the readers (and us) to preserve a singular focus on and childlike enthusiasm for God’s Word.

Then Paul uses a similar word picture in 1 Corinthians 3:2, but seems to indicate that at some point, we ought to graduate away from the “milk” of the Word.

So which is it? Is the Word of God like milk or like food? And is that good or bad?

While it’s almost always a good idea to compare Scripture with Scripture, literary devices like metaphors or similes remain effective only in their original contexts. The same metaphor used in a different way can illustrate a different point, and that’s what’s going on here.

Peter uses the “milk” word picture to point out how eagerly we ought to consume the Word of God, just like an infant consumes milk.

Paul is addressing a different group of people all together about an all together different idea. The Corinthians who received Paul’s letter did not lack eagerness—they lacked perseverance. They were rehearsing the same fundamental truths constantly, never moving beyond the basics, and were thus missing the richness of other, heavier, more substantial Scripture passages.

Peter and Paul are not arguing. They are standing back to back, defending the same idea from different directions.

As we read the Word of God, it’s important for us to keep in mind that it was written over a span of more than 1,500 years by more than 40 different individuals from all walks of life. They address different subjects for different audiences, from different perspectives, and yet not a single contradiction or error appears in its 66 books. Remarkable, no?

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The Faithlife Study Bible links Scripture passages that address the same topic, so you can make connections with just a click. Download the Faithlife Study Bible for free from your favorite app store, and take your Bible study to the next level.

How to Study the Bible

Reading the Faithlife Study Bible the other day, I happened across a great article titled “How to Study the Bible.” Once more I was impressed by the depth and helpfulness of this tool. Here’s an excerpt:

While we may wish that the Bible was entirely clear, students of literature would never expect that from other important books. When it comes to the Bible, it should be obvious that we have to study the Bible in order to understand it.

Some writing—a newspaper story, for example—might be understood by almost any mature reader. Other writing—such as a Shakespeare play—might require readers to consult dictionaries, study guides, and other aids because of the nature of the language and the subject matter. Yet other writing—a calculus textbook, for example—might require years of prior study as well as patient, focused effort in order to appreciate even a single page. The Bible contains literature at all these levels: some parts any reader can follow, some parts require some help, and some are difficult enough that even seasoned scholars struggle to comprehend them.

This is to be expected. A book claiming to be authored by the One whose thinking and communication can range from the simplest level to far above human understanding should require serious effort from seekers of its truth. It is naïve to think that the Bible differs from all other literature in being automatically comprehensible, or that our good intentions and love of God will make irrelevant the need to study in order to appreciate the quality of ideas He has put into writing for us.

Get this and even more inspiring Bible study content in the free Faithlife Study Bible. Download it today from your app store of choice.