Popular culture is usually the last thing people think of when they are talking about starting a new Bible study. Though studies may center around a topic or book, these are usually Biblical topics and Christian books. Would you even think to run a Bible study centered around a popular movie/TV show or book? What about a comic or Manga? Well, you can! It’s actually pretty simple.
You will want to really think and pray over the item of popular culture you will choose. Do you want a series of film nights? A book club? Weekly TV watches? How about a comic discussion? All of these are great ways to share the Gospel message, and much easier to invite a friend to who doesn’t believe in Jesus but is interested in Him.
- How does this relate to the Gospel?
- Are there any areas where it doesn’t?
- How will you deal with these areas?
- What Scriptures/stories will you be connecting it to?
Prepare some questions and topics to help guide the conversation and keep the discussion focused on the topic(s) you’ve chosen. These can be rather superficial or deeper. A mix is best, especially in the beginning of the study. As people get more comfortable in the group, they will open up more and ask their own questions. At that point, you will mainly just need to direct the conversation back on topic when it gets off track.
Plan for the conversations
During your planning phase, make sure you try to plan for ways the conversations may go off track. This may take a few sessions to really understand; every group is different. When things do get off track, try statements that steer the conversation back to the topic:
- “That’s interesting, but I think the question was referring to…”
- “Let’s drop that assumption though, and look at this from another perspective…”
- “That was interesting, but what about…”
These kind of statements make it seem like you are focusing everyone up, not singling out a particular person. Making sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome in the group is very important in this kind of study.
To run a study like this, you will want to begin by introducing the material. Give out a list of movies if you’ll be watching films. If you are reading a book, make the topic and reading expectations clear. You will want to consume the material as a group, and people keeping to the reading/viewing plan will be very important for the discussions. (Though if someone is a week behind on the book, it will not be the end of all good conversations.)
You’ll want to start each week by viewing together or recapping the material together. Transition into discussion time with an opening question, something like: “What themes did you notice in this week’s film/reading?” As people start to answer and discussion happens, don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers. Sometimes admitting you don’t know and need to ask someone with more understanding than you is an amazing witness to those you are ministering to. Make sure you follow up in these situations, though; follow through is important!
This kind of study should be all about building community and reading the Gospel together. This is a laid back setting in most cases, and should be treated like what it is: Friends going deeper into the Gospel in a fun and creative way. The most important thing here is to have fun and build relationships.