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First Presbyterian offering Bible study

Jan Williams is hoping to teach her congregation — and anyone who wants to learn — a different way to study the Bible.

Williams is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Ironton. This week is the first in a Bible study series on the Gospel of Mark.

“What makes this different is that we use an inductive method,” Williams said.

The inductive method of Bible study examines the basic who, what, when, where, and why questions of each passage of Scripture as well as observing the Scriptures implications.

“Rather than imposing what we think on the text, we ask the text what it has to say to us,” Williams said.

Williams learned the method while she was involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship during her time at California State University Fullerton.

“I found this is a very, very helpful way to dig into the Scripture,” she said.

Even 30 years later she remembers one of her first experiences with the method. A teacher was describing the bread and wine during the Last Supper.

“We all took a breath,” she said. “I remember it was so insightful.”

The method teaches readers the observation, interpretation and application steps to studying the Bible. Often, people skip the first two steps and go straight to application, she said.

“Often, people will jump to conclusions about the text,” she said, adding that the inductive method will help people take their time to learn each passage. “We don’t just jump to conclusions.”

Each participant of the Bible study will have a printed copy of the Scripture on which to take notes. Then the people at each table will discuss the passage before the whole group discusses it.

Williams finds that people enjoy the Bible study more this way because there is not just a lecture.

“We do the work together,” she said. “We’re much more reliant on the Holy Spirit to teach.”

Participants will learn to pick up on repeated words and what the author emphasizes.

Williams has been the pastor of the church since 2007. In the time she’s been there, the church has studied Acts, 1 Peter and James using the method.

Church member Judy Sanders said she has enjoyed this method of Bible study.

“It just gave me a whole new outlook on the beginnings of the New Testament church,” Sanders said.

Williams’ way of teaching brings the Scriptures to life, she said.

“She’s a real Bible scholar,” Sanders said of Williams. “She uses everyday language that anyone can understand yet she really brings out the true message of the Bible.

Learning the history and origins of the Bible adds so much to it, she said.

“Even though I’ve read (the books of the Bible) and they’re very familiar to me, they became new and alive.

“It just made you understand just what was taking place.”

The present study will go for 10 to 11 weeks and cover the first eight chapters of Mark. The eighth chapter includes a major turning point when Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is.

The rest of the book after chapter eight is about Jesus preparing to die on the cross. The church will study the last part of the book during its fall Bible study.

“I think that people will find (the Gospel of Mark) interesting and informative and for some people it will be life changing,” Williams said.

If you go:

The Bible study will be at 5:45 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the fellowship hall of First Presbyterian Church in Ironton starting this week.