Local pastor promotes S.O.A.P. Bible study

Oct 21 2011 - 5:35pm

There's an easy acronym to the formula Pastor Jackie Ostler gives for growing closer to Christ: Try a little S.O.A.P.

The youth and women's pastor at Crossroads Christian Fellowship in Uintah also leads youth gatherings of various sizes throughout the area. This summer, she's planning to lead a group that includes Christians from Canada and California in a weeklong mission trip in Ogden.

And with all of those groups, her message is S.O.A.P.

"I'll meet youth ... from other church groups," she said. "They won't remember my name, but they'll remember that I taught them this."

S.O.A.P. stands for scripture, observation, application and prayer. It's a way of journaling scripture study in a way that forces people to look inside themselves for what the scriptures are saying to them and how they plan to change as a result.

The way it works is, the Bible students obtain a journal for the purpose of studying the scriptures.

In the journal each day, students list and write out the scripture they plan to write about. If that choice is several chapters, students pick just a few verses in the reading that seem to speak to them that day.

For observation, students write what they understand the scripture is saying to them at that point in their life.

For application, students write how they see their life changing because of what they have read.

"When you get to application, you can't just write what it means, you have to make it personal," Ostler said. "You have to say, 'What does it say to me today? How can I be changed because of that?'"

Then students write out a prayer reflecting on how they wish to see their life changed because of the reading.

"This is a system that changed my life," said Ostler, who is middle-aged. "I've been a Christian my whole life. When I learned it, it changed my life."

She believes the system makes an impact because it involves more senses than simply reading or reflecting.

Ostler said she and her church congregation promote S.O.A.P. because they believe it is a healthy way to study.

"This is not necessarily what I teach with," she said. "This is what teaches me."

But Ostler also admits that her personal study is a place she often turns when she needs a quick thought to share.

"Sometimes you want to do a devotional and you don't know where to go," she said. "This helps you know where to go."

The system was developed by Pastor Wayne Cordero, of New Hope Christian Fellowship, of Honolulu. The official method calls for observance of an assigned plan for reading the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice throughout the year.

The scriptures in the two texts are correlated so that readers will see reoccurring themes that are demonstrated both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Today's scriptures are Job 11 and 12 and Acts 15 and 16.

Sunday's are Job 13 and 14 and Acts 17 and 18.

To see an outline of any give day's scriptures, visit enewhope.org/bible.

There are specific journals made for the system Cordero developed as well.

But Ostler said strict observance of the schedule is not necessary and she doesn't recommend the practice all at once, especially for those who are just starting in their personal Bible study.

"When you have someone new to reading the Bible, you can't hand them 15 chapters and say, 'Go read it,'" she said.

But picking out a few verses and going on from that works for most people, she said.

"I can read just one verse and do the whole thing on that," she said. "It's not a test. ... You can do anything you want because it's about you learning the Word of God in a way that's applicable to you."

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