This year, we were pleased when a family from our Monday night ESL class decided to join our church. They were from a Catholic background but seemed comfortable at our Anglican church. The children quickly fit into Sunday School, and the family said they enjoyed the service. After a few months, I asked them if they understood the sermon. The reply was “about half”. When I asked if they would like an ELL Bible study during the sermon, they responded positively. A couple of other ESL class members who had been attending our church were happy to join us.
Our Sunday morning service begins with hymns and praise singing, followed by three Bible readings. The words of the Bible readings and the songs are projected onto a screen, so it is easy for our learners to follow. We go out for our study just before the sermon and return for communion.
The study leaders choose one of the passages that have been read that morning, for the study, usually the Gospel passage. The leader prints the selected passage from the Bible in Contemporary English, using BibleGateway.com. We use a larger font and more space between the lines. We follow the pattern of Rick Love’s studies. (see below) We have a matching vocabulary exercise and make sure they know the meaning of every word. Then we discuss questions, starting with simple ones. Here are some examples form a study on John 10:7-18: “Have you ever seen sheep or a wolf? Where do sheep sleep at night? In Alberta, which animals attack sheep?” Then we slowly transition into more personal questions such as: “When Jesus says that He knows His sheep, what does that mean to you? How does it make you feel? Are there any false shepherds today? How would you recognize them?” The learners were quick to say that false shepherds asked for money. Finally, we end on a few deeper questions like “How did Jesus give up His life for His flock?”
All our learners are Christians, but some have not had the experience of small group Bible study. I think they appreciate being able to discuss the passage and what it means to them. We have seen their English improve over these past few months, and we hope that the Bible studies have contributed to that. We really hope that this experience will give them a desire to belong to a small Bible study group because so many of us have found that small groups are vital to our spiritual growth. If you would like to see some of our studies, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to share them with you. Rick Love has an excellent set of studies that you can order at email@example.com.