CHARACTER STUDIES

© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2014

Character studies focus on a particular Bible character.

Purpose of character studies
The purpose of character studies is simple:

To learn how God worked in the character’s life.
To learn from the example of the character’s life.
To promote faith and/or obedience in our hearers.

A character study gathers all the available information about a Bible character, puts it together in a study, and from that information learns about God and his dealings with men. The objective is to encourage and strengthen faith and obedience.

A warning is needed here: it is very easy for character studies to generate guilt, even when the leader has no intention of doing so. This is particularly the case in the more spiritually sensitive people in the group. Character studies should be encouraging, not condemning. They should build the group up, not pull them down.

Sample outline for preparing a character study
Howard Vos, in Effective Bible Study, p48 suggests that preparation for a Bible study on a character should include investigation of:
 
Birth and early life

Parentage
Place and circumstances of birth
Early training and/or experiences

Conversion experience and/or call to a specific task

Ministry for the Lord

The nature of it
Reaction of others to it

Character evaluation

Good
Bad

Relationships with others
Death and comments about it
Reason for inclusion of these facts in the text.


Method of character study [reference: article by Pamela White in Studying God’s Word]
The following list of questions to ask when preparing material for a character study is based on Pamela White’s article.

Choose a character
Ask background questions

Who wrote what we know about him?
When was it written?
Where did he live?
What were the conditions of life at the time?

Read all the material

Sift the material

Prepare the material in points for study

How did he/she emerge as a character?
Did he honour God or let him down?
Try to understand his feelings
What were his aims and motives?
How did he treat his contemporaries?
How did he respond to their treatment of him?
Does the Bible make any personal comments about his relationship with God?
How did God impact him?
How did God use him?
What can we learn about God’s dealings with individuals?