This method of studying Scripture was originally established by St. Benedict in the 6th Century. Lectio Divina means “divine reading.” It focuses on Scripture as the Living Word and engages us holistically: heart, mind, spirit and body. Use this method when you want participants to go deep into a particular Scripture passage and come away with personal Words from God.
- Optional – Slide that describes the four parts of Lectio Divina to use as a handout or to project on a screen (You can download the slide from the “Lesson and Material Downloads” page at www.teachingthem.com. It’s named, “Lectio Divina – Slide.”)
- Optional – Computer, LCD projector and screen if you want to project the slide
- Optional – set up screen and projector to project slide or make copies of the handout for all the participants.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “We’re going to use a method of studying Scripture that was originally established by St. Benedict in the 6th Century.”
- “It’s called Lectio Divina, which means ‘divine reading.’”
- “It focuses on Scripture as the Living Word and engages us holistically: heart, mind, spirit and body.It is made up of four steps: (Advance slide each time as you mention “heart, mind, spirit and body.”)
- We Read or Hear the Word and allow it to speak to our hearts. (Advance slide.)
- We Reflect on the Word with our minds. (Advance slide.)
- We Respond to the Word by praying through our spirits. (Advance slide.)
- We Rest in the Presence of God with our bodies. (Advance slide.)
- “Let’s practice this. I need a volunteer to read the Scripture we’ll study today.” (Have a volunteer read the Scripture you have chosen.)
- “This was the Read step.”
- “Now, I would like you to Reflect.”
- “Take about five minutes and think about what you’ve heard.”
- “What is God’s personal message for you through His Word today?”
- “If it helps you to journal your thoughts as a way of reflecting, feel free to do so.” (Allow five minutes for reflection.)
- “Would anyone like to share a personal Word or insight given to you by the Holy Spirit.” (Allow several people to share.)
- “I need another volunteer to read the same Scripture again. Listen carefully for words or phrases that God wants to highlight for you.” (Have a volunteer read the same Scripture. Sometimes it’s good to try different translations or even different languages if your participants are multi-lingual.)
- “Let’s Reflect again, but this time, do it in your groups (or in pairs).” (Allow groups or pairs 10 minutes for discussing what they are hearing from the Scriptures.)
- “Okay, let’s read the same passage one more time, listening carefully for God’s unique message for you.” (Have a volunteer read the passage again.)
- “Now it’s time to Respond and Rest.”
- “Take the next 10 minutes, and pray and rest in God’s Word for you.”
- “You’ll take the first few minutes to pray – or take as long as you need.”
- “When you finish praying, just sit quietly, and try to keep your mind clear.”
- “Allow the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to you during this time. (You can have participants pray individually or in pairs or in a group. After they finish praying, they will sit quietly until the time has expired and just allow the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to them. When the time is up, you can ask people to share what they heard through the study and how they feel about Lectio Divina as an approach to doing devotions.)
This closer is best used at the end of an event where you have been studying Nehemiah. It asks participants to make a commitment to their team, a major initiative, a mission, a goal, etc. by writing it on a “brick” and sticking it to a wall where others are also adding their bricks. The final result is a visual representation of a wall of commitment built by all the participants.
- Nehemiah 6:15-16
- Nehemiah 9:38, 10:28-33
- Printouts of the file “Building Our Walls – Brick Commitment Cards.” (One copy for every two participants. You can find this file on the Lesson Materials and Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.)
- Scissors or other cutting tool
- Markers (several for each group or table of participants)
- Flipchart paper
- Masking tape
- Worship instruments and sound system
- Print out the Brick Commitment Cards.
- Cut them in half along the black line.
- Tape two sheets of flipchart paper together, and then tape them onto a wall where everyone can see them. If you have a bigger group, use more sheets of flipchart paper.
- Draw a scene at the bottom that represents the rubble of torn-down walls, and write “from RUBBLE” at the bottom and “to RAMPART” at the top. (See the photo at: https://teachingthem.com/2013/02/15/building-our-walls-closer/)
- Tear off pieces of tape and have them ready at the front so that participants will be able to stick their commitment cards to the wall quickly. (You might want to make the tape into circles so that it goes behind the paper. It will look nicer.)
- Ask a worship leader to lead the group through two songs to set the mood before they make their commitments.
- Pass out commitment cards and markers to each group or participant.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- (Have a volunteer read Nehemiah 9:38, 10:28-33.)
- “When the walls of Jerusalem were built after only 52 days, the people made a binding agreement to protect what they had worked so hard to build up.”
- “Their commitments included not intermarrying with pagan peoples, not trading on the Sabbath, allowing the land to have a Sabbath rest every seventh year and cancelling all debts, providing tithes and offerings for the Temple and the priests and Levites.”
- “When you build something good for the glory of God, you want to protect it, right?”
- “The Enemy is going to attack it. That’s guaranteed.”
- “So, you need to think about how he will try to tear down your walls, and you’ve got to make a commitment to strengthen them there.”
- “And you can’t just reinforce the walls; you’ve also got to guard the gates, because if the Enemy can’t go over or through your walls, he WILL try to get in through your gates.”
- “The gates are the way that things come into and go out of the city.”
- “For us, our gates are most likely our ears, our eyes and our mouths.”
- “The Enemy uses these three gates to destroy many good works of God.”
- “Through what we hear, what we see and what we say.”
- “A little gossip, a little rumor, a harsh word, a hasty email, an inappropriate or condemning photograph – these are his tools. Guard against them.”
- “I would like to ask each of you to also make a personal commitment to protect what you have worked so hard to build while we’ve been together during this event.” (Hand out a “commitment brick” and a marker to each participant if you haven’t done so already.)
- “These sheets of paper are ‘Commitment Bricks.’”
- “We are going to use them to build a wall of commitment here at the front of the room.” (Point out the flipchart paper where you would like them to bring their commitment cards.)
- “When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, all the walls were rubble.” (Point to the “RUBBLE” on your flipcharts.)
- “But he helped the people to build the rubble into a rampart!” (Point to the “RAMPART” on your charts. A rampart is a strong defensive wall around a city.)
- “I’ve asked the worship team to lead us in a few songs to prepare our hearts.”
- “After we have worshipped, I would like to ask you to take a moment to pray about what your commitment should be.”
- “Then, write the commitment on your brick and sign your name.”
- “I have tape ready at the front of the room, and I would like you to bring your Commitment Brick up here to cover up this rubble and build a wall of commitment by sticking your brick to the wall.” (Have the worship team lead. Then encourage everyone to pray, write down their commitments and tape them on the wall. When everyone is done, have them stand in a semi-circle around the commitments.)
- (Ask a volunteer to read Nehemiah 6:15-16.)
- “When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, all he had was rubble and a group of people who had given up hope of building their walls.”
- “The people were discouraged by the rubble.”
- “It was a constant reminder of their weakness, their shame, their failure.”
- “But Nehemiah saw the rubble and had hope!”
- “He realized that the rubble meant that they already had all the materials they needed to build the walls right there waiting to be used!”
- “They didn’t have to build a stone quarry and find ways to transport large amounts of stone.”
- “They had everything they needed, and it was already distributed around the city in all the right places!”
- “He cast his vision with the people, and in 52 days, they took that RUBBLE and made it into a RAMPART! (a strong, defensive wall).”
- “Maybe the rubble you see around you has been used by the Enemy to discourage you and to cause you to lose hope.”
- “But I want to encourage you today!”
- “You have all the resources you need to build your walls!”
- “With God’s help, even this rubble can become a rampart!”
- “Let’s thank Him for His good work in our hearts and minds today!” (Praise the Lord with some applause or other method appropriate to your context. Then, ask the senior leader to say a prayer to close the time. Dismiss participants after the prayer. You will probably want to transfer your Commitment Wall to a visible place around your team or to post it online as a reminder of the commitments that have been made.)
This object lesson teaches that we learn by linking new ideas to old ones and demonstrates that this is the method Jesus used to teach about the Kingdom of God.
- Mark 4:26-32 (man who throw seeds; mustard seed)
- Luke 13:20-21 (yeast)
- Large paperclips, carabineers or toy chain links (50 or more)
- Slips of paper to mark places in the Bible for the verses you will share.
- Form a chain of your paperclips, carabineers or toy chain links. It should include 30-40 links, so that you can create a large “ball” of links when you hold them all in your hands.
- Have your other links separated individually and at the front of the teaching area.
- Write the Scriptures you want read on individual slips of paper, and put them in the Bible at the appropriate places.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- “When Jesus taught, He used a teaching technique called a parable.”
- “A parable is a simple story that teaches a spiritual lesson.”
- “The word, ‘parable’ means, ‘to throw alongside of.’” (from the Greek – para, means ‘beside,’ and bole, means ‘a throw’)
- “With His parables, Jesus was placing two ideas right beside each other.”
- “He would always use one idea that the listener already knew, and it was usually about farming or fishing or everyday living.”
- “Then, He would compare what the listener already knew to something they didn’t know about, like the Kingdom of God.”
- “Let’s look at a few examples.” (Ask volunteers to read the following Scriptures: Mark 4:26-32, Luke 13:20-21.)
- “In these Scriptures, Jesus uses examples about farming and cooking to make comparisons to the Kingdom of God.”
- “In other Scriptures, He uses children, camels, childbirth, light, salt, parties (feasts or banquets), weddings, masters and servants, and fig trees to teach about the Kingdom.”
- “Let me show you why Jesus taught in this way.” (Ask a volunteer to come forward, and hand him/her a single link.)
- “The people Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God didn’t know anything about it, but they did know some things about fishing and farming and weddings and trees…”
- “This link (ask volunteer to hold up their link) represents the knowledge that the people already had about ordinary things in their lives.” (Hold up your “ball” of links.)
- “This giant ball of links represents everything that Jesus knew about the Kingdom of God.”
- “If Jesus had tried to give them the entire ball of knowledge all at one time, they wouldn’t have been able to handle it.” (Toss the ball of links to the volunteer. It’s okay if he/she doesn’t catch it. That will illustrate your point.)
- “Jesus knew that he had to start small and start with what they already knew.” (Take your ball of links back, and remove one link.)
- “So, He taught in parables and said this thing that you already know (point to the link in the volunteer’s hand) is like the Kingdom of God.” (Hold up the ball of links) in this way (hold up the single link that you removed from the ball. Then, connect it to the link in the volunteer’s hand.)
- “The Kingdom of God is like a man who throws seeds.” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “The Kingdom of God is like yeast that works its way through the dough.” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “In the Kingdom of God, there will be a great wedding feast!” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “Just like you see new leaves on the fig tree when summer is coming, you will see certain signs that tell you when the Kingdom of God is near.” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “You cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless you are born a second time in your spirit.” (Remove another link from the ball and connect it to the volunteer’s links.)
- “By teaching in this way, Jesus helps understand something very big and difficult to understand.” (Hold up ball of links.)
- “And this is the way all learning works.”
- “We connect something we know to something we don’t know, and it helps us to understand it better.” (Thank and dismiss your volunteer.)