Friday, April 12, 2019

Faith and Fiction Bible Study


Happy Friday, Seekers! Carrie here.

Forgive me for being late with this post today - I blame post-CFRR brain fog ;) 

Today I am honored to host a blogging friend of mine, Beckie Burnham, from By the Book! I love Beckie's blog, and if you haven't yet checked it out you really must.

She's here today to talk about her Faith and Fiction Bible Study/Book Club, which I think is one of the BEST ideas EVER...


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“Just because it isn’t real, doesn’t make it not true.”

That is my standard answer when someone says *gasp* they don’t read fiction because it is not real. This maxim is especially true for Christian Fiction. I am an avid reader, a book-pusher, who manages to work books and reading into just about every conversation and activity. When my church’s book club was looking for something a little different to pique interest and encourage attendance, we came up with a combo book club/Bible study. I had just read Charles Martin’s Long Way Gone and knew that this excellent reimagining of the Prodigal Son would be just the thing for our new experiment. When it was met with great enthusiasm the Faith And Fiction Bible Study was born. Studying the Bible plus reading fiction — what could be better!?

The Faith And Fiction group always chooses Christian fiction to accompany its study of scripture. Christian fiction is not only unique in its world view, but CF authors are committed to excellence in writing and research and producing a work that not only entertains, but is written with an audience of One in mind. Across many genres, truths are expressed in unique ways. With hundreds of books to choose from, my group is set for many more studies to come.

From the earliest days our goal was to study the Bible first, but the addition of a complimentary novel has opened our imaginations to dig even deeper into the Word. We have chosen a number of Biblical novels to accompany scripture study — Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith and Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt are just two. Other genres have also offered extraordinary insight into the stories of the Bible, but application in a modern world — How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells and For Such A Time by Kate Breslin. Whether we are studying a specific Biblical figure (Miriam by Mesu Andrews) or broader topics like the the healing ministry of Jesus (Madman by Tracy Groot), the novels we have chosen add details of life that we sometimes overlook while reading our Bibles. We find ourselves questioning and researching to ferret our what is truly real. Creative twists are also a wonderful surprise. Many of us were forced from our reading comfort zones when we studied the role of Old Testament prophets and lost ourselves in the fantasy world of Prophet by R. J. Larson.

The format of Faith And Fiction is quite simple. We meet once a week for three weeks of Bible study, and then on the fourth week we have book club. Those book club meetings are great for discussing the usual — character, plot, setting — and also what God was and is up to! Food often plays a role in book clubs, and our group is no exception. We have had middle eastern honey cake, lentil stew, and Hamantashcen to add our own bit of authenticity and fun.

What do you need to start a Faith And Fiction Bible Study / Book Club of your own? Just a love of books and the Book. The following are the topics/people we have studied and the novels we read. Along with the novels listed, there are many, many more CF to choose from.

Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt
For Such A Time by Kate Breslin (Esther)
How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells (Tamar)
The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee (Solomon and the Queen of Sheba)
Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (The Prodigal Son)
Madman by Tracy Groot (healing ministry of Jesus)
Miriam by Mesu Andrews (Miriam and Exodus)
On This Foundation by Lynn Austin (Nehemiah)
Prophet by R. J. Larson (Old Testament prophets)
Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith (Jacob and Rebekah)
Reign by Ginger Garrett (Ahab and Jezebel)

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Beckie Burnham is a wife, mom to grown kids, and an avid book pusher! A blogger of Christian fiction for almost 10 years, she also leads two book clubs, one of which combines Bible study and a fiction discussion (Faith And Fiction Bible Study). When not reading books (when is that really?!?) she enjoys spending time at her cabin in the north Georgia mountains.  

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What are some other books you think would be great candidates for a Faith & Fiction Bible Study? (tell us the book & what theme it would be great for)
Have you participated in something similar?
How does this appeal to you as an author? As a reader?

38 comments:

  1. I love this idea so much, Beckie (which you already know) - thank you so much for sharing it with us today!

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    1. What a thrill to see this today. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  2. What a fun and spiritual idea! And any time you can combine "fun" and "spiritual" I am all for it! I love this. And I hope this idea catches on. And I do love book clubs. Nothing is more fun than reading a book knowing you are going to get to discuss it with like-minded people, and then getting to discuss it with them! That is really, really fun. I miss being in a book club. Someday when my life is not so exhausting, I want to do that again!
    Thanks Carrie and Beckie! Beckie, I hope this idea catches on like wildfire everywhere! You are a genius.

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    1. isn't she?? I am just in love with the idea

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    3. Aww! I love leading this group. My Bible study people are wonderfully encouraging and supportive of my experiments.

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    4. That's so great, Beckie. It's so good to be able to do the things we love with people who are supportive and encouraging!

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  3. What a wonderful concept, Beckie!

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  4. Oh, I have never thought of this and love the idea! I love how you've tied the books to your studies. Very cool!

    Thanks for being with us today, Beckie!

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  5. I’m always on the lookout for ways to incorporate books into fun activities. This one has been a winner with my group.

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  6. Hi Beckie:

    I think the Fiction/Bible study/club/group idea is a synergetic exercise in serendipity! It could attract Bible study people into the literary world by showing the practical application of Christian values and how those values enhance and sometimes even bless the lives of believers; while, at the same time, attracting fiction lovers who might otherwise shy away from having to make comments about Bible interpretations in a room where many will know far more about it than they do.

    I do favor Christian fiction which reads the least like a Bible study and more like how living a life consistent with Christian values makes for a better life. In short, how being Christ-like, is its own reward. This could be done in fiction by example without any mention of religion or the Bible.

    Of these more secular Christian fiction books I think "The Price of Victory" by Sandra Leesmith, "The Layman's Second Chance" by Ruth Logan Herne, and "A House Full of Hope" by Missy Tippens would make fine examples.

    IDEA! I think it would be very helpful to create a short manual on, "how to start up a Bible/Fiction study group," along with example session outlines and book list suggestions. Give it a "This Looks Easy" look and make it available in PDF form. No priting costs.

    Bible study and Christian Fiction: is a match made in heaven.

    Vince

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    1. I’ve shared study questions and notes with others. I do need to get them better organized.

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  7. What a "novel" idea! Do you read and study the biblical character before you read the novel so you have all the facts ready before your book club meeting? A novel I enjoyed was " Haddasah, One Night With the King" by Tommy Tenney. Another interesting, though a bit troubling was Karen Kingsbury's "Divine", amodern telling of the life of Mary Magdalene. Thanks for your post. Lee-Ann B

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    1. I have done both. Not reading the novel first allows for a fresh eye towards the scripture. I often choose authors I love to be sure of a great reading experience.

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  8. This sounds so cool! I recently started reading a Christian Fiction series, Winnie the Horse Gentler. While it doesn't include any true Bible characters, it does show the power of prayer, even when you don't seem to know what to say. I'm definitely going to start this club at my church!

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    1. We’ve read books inspired by scripture and Biblical characters. A book that has prayer at its core sounds like a great choice for a study on prayer.

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  10. I've noticed discussions in the back matter of CF's lately, pointing to the Biblical truths related in the book and offering up Scripture references to back them up. Chuck Black's books come to mind. That made me wonder if there wasn't such book clubs like this out in the great wide world. But this is the first I've actually heard of one being in practice. Ingenious and what fun!

    Thanks for sharing. I hope the idea spreads. :0)

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  11. Beckie, thanks for sharing this great idea for a book club group....a way to share Christian fiction and how these stories come from the authors' experiences of God's love. I'll keep this list of your suggestions. Plus the foodie part of me likes the way you include food items to compliment the books. Lovely ideas! Thank you!

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  12. This is such a fun idea. I would throw in authors Carole Towriss who writes amazing books set from Exodus through the settling of Canaan, and just released one on Paul. Also, Sandi Rog wrote some neat novels set just after the fall of Jerusalem through the early church.

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  13. This is such an awesome idea! I love it :) I think we should start an online group. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of readers around me!!

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    1. I have a FB page for the group, but it’s been limited to event info, links to the books, etc. I hadn’t thought to open it up as an online discussion group ... until now! Thanks for that idea. I may be expanding soon!

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  14. Okay, I am soooo intrigued by this! What I really want to know is who comes up with the study for 3 weeks before the "book club" meeting on the 4th week? Is it something someone creates for each topic or character in the Bible? Or is it something already available for to purchase for use? I would love to do something like this, but I'm not sure I could develop my own study. Thanks so much for the great idea! I can't wait to hear more. ;)

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    1. I develop the questions for each week using reference materials and and lots of help from the Holy Spirit! Each week’s lesson has about 6 questions — some digging into the scripture itself and others for personal reflection. Each week I use those as a springboard to develop class discussion. I love research, so this format is right up my alley. I have study questions for each of the topics listed.

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    2. Hhhmmm...I need to pray about this. I have such a pull on my heart to explore this for the ladies in my church. It truly merges my desire for a book club, with what to do next in our ladies Bible study. Thank you so much!

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  15. I'm with Sherrinda.... this is beyond intriguing. We just started a women's Bible study, a group of women from the church I went to for over 40 years... (I was a baby when I started, of course)... :) But it's a different place now, a different pastor and while we all love each other, it's not nurturing the heart and soul so we're praying on that and exploring the Bible together. What a wonderful post, ladies!!!

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    1. Hi Ruth: What if your group could link up with other groups around the country or even English speaking world? You could keep the groups small and maybe rotate groups during the year. It would be fun to have a Kiwi group one month and the Aussie group the next month. New friends. New insights. New adventures in faith. I might even do it. :)

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  16. This is a great idea. My book club has read the Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers. They include Unveiled: Tamar; Unashamed: Rahab; Unshaken: Ruth; Unspoken: Bathsheba; and Unafraid: Mary. The Biblical themes are obvious by the titles.

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  17. This is a fantastic idea! I love book club and talking about spiritual themes, but to actually incorporate it with a Bible study in this way would be even better.

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  18. Hi Beckie: Do you know about a virtual online "Faith And Fiction Bible Study / Book Club"? I think RWA has some groups that are virtual. I also believe that such a group could make a great outreach program. Just an idea for home-bound people. Vince

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  19. Great idea Beckie! Two fantastic ones I'd add by Tessa Afshar:
    In the Field of Grace for Ruth
    Land of Silence for the woman with the issue of blood

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