Read This Week’s Passage: John 15:1–8
History of Bible Readings (Studies)
In the 1880s, Adventist leader Ellen White, addressing church leadership, said that more teaching was needed and less preaching. This made an impact on another leader named Stephen Haskell. After prayer and contemplating the challenge, he started a meeting where questions were asked to the leading individuals of the day and answers had to come directly from the Bible.
During the exercise it began to rain hard, so no one could leave the tent meeting. Haskell extended the Bible readings for nearly two hours with unabated interested from all in attendance. Everyone was excited about the effectiveness of the method and demanded more. It was labeled “fireside preaching” and later morphed into “Bible readings” (which would be known as Bible studies today). A movement of this method spread across North America. These readings were later compiled into a magazine called the Bible Reading Gazette, which then morphed into the book Bible Readings for the Home Circle. Haskell later authored the Bible Handbook, which was used to train others in this method.
“The plan of holding Bible readings was a heaven-born idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. Workers may thus be developed who will become mighty men of God. By this means the word of God has been given to thousands; and the workers are brought into personal contact with people of all nations and tongues. The Bible is brought into families, and its sacred truths come home to the conscience. Men are entreated to read, examine, and judge for themselves, and they must abide the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the divine enlightenment. God will not permit this precious work for Him to go unrewarded. He will crown with success every humble effort made in His name” (Gospel Workers, 192).