Immersing yourself in Scripture is a great discipline and so to is the practice of experiencing Scripture in community. A large portion of the Year of Biblical Literacy is intended to be experienced in community, or small groups, as most of the Bible is written to a people, a nation, or a church, and not necessarily to one individual. There is no real way to embody or apply the Scriptures out of community. And, we would argue that it is almost impossible to understand what the Scriptures are saying apart from a community committed to God. So! We have created a User Guide to be able to experience our small group material. Learn about the Four Layers of YOBL or read the FAQs.

The Four Layers of YOBL

The year was designed in four layers: personal, communal, worshipful, and educational. The layers are meant to work together, providing a more complete context and clarity throughout the year. Below we have provided a brief outline of how each layer was intended to be experienced in particular relationship to the communal layer.

The Personal Layer

The personal layer is about learning the Scriptures through a daily commitment to opening your heart and mind to God through the spiritual discipline of Bible reading. The personal layer is directly related to the communal layer and the weekly material is generally based off that week’s reading. The material summarizes the major thematic elements of the portion of Scripture read in a given week and offers questions and exercises meant to lead to a deeper understanding and intimacy with God and others.

The Communal Layer

The primary function of the communal layer is to indeed be in community, discussing, studying, and experiencing Scripture together. The year itself is fast moving so having a place to dialogue and reflect with others is important to enable engagement with the story of God. We created the guided material in such a way that anyone can facilitate a gathering. Questions range from highly intellectual to tenderly personal to intentionally practical. The small group element of YOBL is meant to take place regularly, ideally on a weekly basis.

The goal is not just intellectual knowledge but rather true and beautiful connection with Jesus and your community. Each material is meant to be finished in 90 minutes and has time guidelines suggesting how long to spend on each section. You can read in more detail the goal of the material and a breakdown of the major elements in the User’s Guide to the Communal Layer.

The Worshipful Layer

The worshipful layer is about experiencing God in Scripture and worship on a Sunday.  

For each week's small group material, there is most likely a fitting sermon. We do not include the sermons in the material so we recommend you exploring the sermon series to get a grasp on what sermons might be helpful as you prepare for small group.  

The Educational Layer

The educational layer is about expounding upon key themes in the Bible to learn or re-learn the context of the Bible.

At times within the small group material, we recommend your group to reference a particular a lecture in your gathering. The lectures vary over a wide range of topics so inviting your group to have a listen to one or a few might be a unifying experience for your group to be able to talk about some of the more difficult topics in the Bible.