Bible Study Conundrums

When I returned from sabbatical a few months ago I decided to revamp my church’s bible study. I thought we had spent enough time talking about when the various books were written, by whom, and in what context. I wanted the study to take on a more spiritual tone. So I came up with three questions that I thought could be applied to any text. The questions are:
What is being said about God?
What is being said about our humanity?
What is being said about the relationship between the two?
I was proud of my questions and for the first few weeks of bible study I thought they worked well. But then they didn’t. Participants seemed to grow increasingly anxious about making broad sweeping statements about God or humanity. The bible tends to offer some sharp critique, especially of humanity, and the participants of my study jumped to quickly defend our kind. This surprised me. I am all too willing to critique humanity.
Now I have started to think that my questions have kept the texts too ‘arm’s length’, if you know what I mean. My questions are too objective, too analytical; still not adequately spiritual. And so I am adding a fourth question. The new question is:
To what spiritual work is this passage calling me/us/the church?
My hope is that such a question will personalize the text, that it might help us internalize the challenge being posed.
I believe our encounters with the Word should change us. I believe bible study is part of a transformative faith. I believe we are all life-long learners.
I’ll let you know how the new format goes.

_