Every once in a while, I love to re-read parts of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. I was challenged by the six aspects to good study of a book. For the last few years, I have incorporated the discipline of reading about five books a month and it’s been really cool to learn and grow. [If you’re interested, these are some of my book lists].
So the thoughts about how to study gave me a new perspective of something I want to try and do better. He listed the six rules of study. The first three are intrinsic and the others extrinsic. Over time, these first three can happen simultaneously – the part I want to practice more!
Here are Foster’s guidelines/rules:
- The first reading involves understanding – What is the author saying?
- The second reading involves interpreting – What does the author mean?
- The third reading involves evaluating – Is the author right or wrong?
The next three aids bring success in our study:
- Experience – our experience gives us different lenses in which to read and understand.
- Other books – help us gain a different perspective on what we are reading – even if it’s as simple as looking up words we don’t understand.
- Live discussions – When we talk about it with others, it makes a difference in how we internalize the truth we can find.
What does this teach me about how to study a book?
I want to grow in the skill of reading while remembering the first three guidelines. The second three guidelines are also good reminders, all of which are important! I like the idea of “live discussion” – too often I probably just talk too much about the books I’m reading and not really engaging in discussion.
In the process of this, I also think about the study of Scripture.
I love the idea of reading scripture passages three different times to answer each of these three questions. And I especially believe that one of the reasons community groups for Bible study are so important is the live discussion of the text and how that helps seal the deal of how we internalize and incorporate into our lives!
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