I don’t know about you, but I don’t always stay on a schedule or a plan that I have for my quiet time or my Bible study. Sometimes I start off really, really great. This summer I signed up to do an Armor of God study, and the first week I was on the ball. I had all my homework done three days early.
But ever since then I have been scrambling to try to catch up! And I went through the same thing when I was reading through the Bible in a year. Some days I was on track, but every now and then I got seriously behind.
So today I am sharing a few tips and options on what you can do if you fall behind.
Option #1 When you fall behind in your Bible study
The first option I want to throw out there is that if you are doing a group study where you’re in a small group with other people, it can be really hard if you fall behind. It means that maybe you won’t be able to follow the conversation or discussion. Or maybe you will have nothing to add.
So one thing that you can try is to skip over what you’ve missed and just stay where everybody else is. If it’s a 5-week study and you get week 1 done but you miss week 2, and then everybody else is on week 3, just skip over week 2 and go on to week 3 and keep going forward.
Please don’t stay home just because you aren’t caught up. You can still get a lot of learning and encouragement from just listening to what’s going on. Especially if it’s a video based study. You can learn so much from watching the videos even if you can’t keep up with the homework.
Just skip over the week you’ve missed and when the study is over or you have extra time during the week, go back and work on the parts that you missed.
Option #2 When you fall behind in your Bible study
The second option is similar to the first but different in the details. Instead of skipping over what you missed, simply pick up where you left off. If you left off in your 7-week study on week 3, and this study is over (if it’s a group study and everyone else is done), then just start where you left off and work forward.
Maybe you just do a week at a time and that means you finish later than everybody else. Or if you have some extra time, work in there. But just keep going.
This is an especially good option if you’re in a study where each week builds on itself. In most studies, the content will be related, but there are some studies, like Beth Moore’s Daniel study, where if I tried to skip over a week and then catch up, I would have been lost.
So if you need to do it in order, because it builds up and you fall behind, just keep working. Just pick up where you left off and keep going.
Option #3 When you fall behind in your Bible study
A third option is to just do a blitz. This is what I have been doing this summer when I fall behind. Carve out a block of time and just plow through whatever it is that you need to get done. And that way, you’re all caught up.
I have done this the past two weeks. I got to the end of the week and hadn’t even watched the video for this week! So I just blocked off an hour and I watched the video and I worked through all of the daily assignments and I was able to catch up like that.
Option #4 When you fall behind in your Bible study
The last option is to evaluate where you are. I’ve talked about this before, where there are different seasons of life where you have more time to focus on spiritual growth and your faith.
Often for me, especially when my older two kids were small, I found that every time I joined a study, I was always behind. And I had to realize that that was the season I was in where group studies weren’t going to be a really good fit for me. Because I didn’t have the time to keep up.
That doesn’t mean that you should abandon them altogether or that they’re a terrible idea for everybody. But there are seasons in life where you’re not going to be able to keep up with the homework. What happens when you realize that you’re in a season where a Beth Moore or those types of studies aren’t going to work for you?
Dealing with Difficult Seasons
Well, you have a couple of options. You can choose to not do groups at all and do something different. And I will talk about what some of those different things can be below. But here is something I have found that works for me that I talked a little bit about earlier.
Join the group but just don’t do the homework. Go every week, watch the video, take notes on what’s in the video. Participate in the discussions as much as you can. Be there in prayer and enjoy the community and fellowship.
It’s okay to go sit in a group study and not even buy the member book. Just sit there with a pen and a piece of paper or your journal. Watch the video and take notes. Because the member book and the daily assignments really just go deeper into what they are talking about in the video.
You can write down the fill-in-the-blank questions and answers. But they are also full of Scripture references, so maybe you sit and listen to the video and you jot down the different references that the teacher mentions. Then as you have time during the week, pull out your Bible and read that verse and take some notes. You’re still a part of the study and you’re still able to have that dedicated time where you’re working on growing your faith and being with God.
You’re in fellowship with other women, you’re in that community, and that can be a really great thing. Especially if you’re going through a hard time, don’t isolate yourself. Just go and be honest.
“We’re having a crisis”, or “I’m in a hard time and I really appreciate your prayers. I might not be able to keep up with the homework but I’m here and I’m listening. I’m going to learn as much as I can while I’m here.”
Because you can always, when life calms down a little bit, buy the member book or pull out the member book that you bought and never used and work through the study on your own.
Non-group Study Option
Another option I mentioned, if you don’t want to go to a group study, is to study your Bible in a way that doesn’t require the commitment of daily homework assignments.
What I mean by that is find something that you can do, that’s going to help you be in the Word, studying it and going deep and really learning about it, but it’s not as big a time commitment as say an hour or an hour and a half session at a church or at group. And then a 15-30 minute homework assignment every single day during the week.
You can just get a Bible reading plan and just read one verse or one passage every single day. You could read the same verse or the same passage for an entire week. Then just soak in all the wisdom that God has for you in that one verse or in that passage.
Maybe you want to do an inductive Bible study method. I know that sounds kind of challenging, but really it’s just a way of studying the Bible and asking questions and really just focusing on the Word as what you’re studying. It’s easy to pick up and to put down.
I have been working through an Ephesians study for a while, and I got to a certain point where I had to say, “Okay, I’m in a busy season.” So I put it down, and then I picked it up like 3 weeks later and I just picked up where I left off.
It’s not like you’re going to lose momentum or information if you can’t do it.
Word studies are another great way to study your Bible. It’s a great way to go deep in a short amount of time. I can do a word study in about 5 minutes. I’m still studying my Bible, I’m still reading, I’m still having that time every single day. But it’s not something that’s going to be too much or too overwhelming for me.
What Not to Do
What you don’t want to do when you fall behind in your Bible study is to beat yourself up. You don’t want to be so hard on yourself, “you’re a disappointment, you’re a failure”. The Bible says that there is no more condemnation once you’re in Christ Jesus. God is not going to come down like whack-a-mole and bop you on the head because you fell behind in your Bible study. He’s not going to do that!
He loves you. He wants to spend time with you. But He’s not concerned with the amount of time. It’s not the quantity of the time. If all you have is 5 minutes, He is happy to have those 5 minutes with you and He will bless you during those 5 minutes. And He will increase your time, as your season allows.