Bible Studies for Beginners: Where to Start, What to Read, and More

For years (decades?) I’d go to church, halfway listen to the sermon (while constantly checking the time), then leave and not think of the Word of God again until next week.

There are seasons in our lives where this is how we operate. Maybe we’re recovering from an illness or heartbreak. Or maybe we are just doing our best to get to church, especially when raising small children.

But when we never open our Bible up outside of church, we miss out on the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word. It is even more dangerous if we take the sermon as fact and don’t question it.

Because here’s the secret: We have the same access to the wisdom and revelation of the Word of God that our pastors do. We have the same access to the Holy Spirit to awaken our eyes to the Word.

Related: Making Time to Read Your Bible During Busy Seasons of Life

In the early church, while Paul was in Thessalonia, the crowd listened intently to what he taught them. But afterward, they went home to examine the Scriptures themselves to see if what they were hearing was true.

There are two advantages to us doing this today:

  1. The first is obvious: we can verify the truth ourselves. It can help us identify false teachers and protect ourselves from being led astray.
  2. The other benefit is something that happens over time as you read more and more of the Scriptures (even if all you’re doing is verifying the sermon): You’ll begin to understand and feel the love of God through His Word.

Knowledge of His Word will help you when you hear something that doesn’t sound quite right from a sermon or podcast. You’ll get to know the character of God so well that you’ll know when you hear something that doesn’t align with who He is. 

You’ll be able to recall similar verses or verses that claim the opposite from your memory. It is the practice of hiding God’s Word in your heart

Consistent time in God’s Word over the years is a practice that takes time to see the reward. But isn’t that true of most things? 

If you’re new to Bible studies, starting to read the Bible can seem daunting. Where do you begin? What should you read? And how do you make the most of your time? Below, I provide some tips for beginners looking to read their Bible. I’ll also recommend helpful resources to get you started on your journey! 

Related: How to Easily Teach Your Kids the Bible at Home

Where to start reading the Bible for beginners

You can approach reading the Bible for the first time in a few different ways. If you want to start from the beginning, Genesis is an excellent (and logical) place. Just know that while Genesis is the beginning, the Bible isn’t laid out in order. Following a chronological Bible or Bible plan will help you read the books in order.

However, if you’re looking for something a little more relatable, I recommend starting with the Gospel of John. This book tells the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It’s a great way to get to know more about who Jesus is and what he came to do for us! Try reading one chapter a day and asking yourself, “What did I learn about God today?” Journaling your responses will help you retain the reading and lessons. 

Another option is to start reading from one of the Psalms. The Psalms are full of beautiful poetry and wisdom that can speak to any situation in life. The Psalms are also a great way to learn more about God’s character.

Related: Best Bibles, Devotionals, and Bible Studies for Youth

Reading from Proverbs is another popular book of the Bible to start with. There are 31 chapters inside of Proverbs, so you can read one every day for a month.

However, many prefer to have a solid Bible reading plan to follow. If that’s you, then read on.

Best Bible Studies for someone new to the faith

If you want to learn more about the Bible but aren’t sure where to start, consider a Bible study. A good Bible study will help you understand what you’re reading and apply it to your life. It can be challenging to read the Bible independently and not have someone there to guide you, particularly for the first time.

I’m a big believer in reading the Word in community. If you’re not in a small group, don’t use that as an excuse! You can join a Bible study class at your church or study alone. 

Related: How to Teach Kids Bible Verses (Even if They Aren’t Interested)

I study the Bible with my small group and do Bible studies independently. God talks to us in a myriad of ways.

Suggestions for Beginner Bible Studies

  • First Five is an app and Bible study designed by Proverbs 31. The premise is that you spend the first five minutes of your day reading God’s Word. You can follow along with the study inside their app, but you can also get the participant’s guide to use alongside the app. 
  • She Reads Truth has ongoing Bible studies that you can do on your own or join their community. They also have a participant’s guide you can purchase to take your daily study deeper. 

My Favorite Way To Read Through the Bible in a Year

I’ve read the Bible several times but don’t remember much from those experiences. Until I read through the Bible using The Bible Recap. 

The Bible Recap is a year-long chronological reading plan for the entire Bible. Every day you read the 10-20 minute selected passage, then listen to an 8-minute podcast that “recaps” everything you just read. 

We just finished reading through the Bible using The Bible Recap with my small group, and we are gearing up to do it again.

Books 

The Quick-Start Beginner’s Guide to the Bible: *Easy-to-Use *Fact-Filled *Life-Changing by J. Stephen Lang

Bible Studies for Life: Beginner’s Guide by Brian Gugas 

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin

The Bible in 52 Weeks: A Yearlong Bible Study for Women by Dr. Kimberly D. Moore

These are just a few examples of the many excellent resources available to help you get started in your Bible study. No matter where you are in your journey, there is a resource to help you grow in your understanding of God’s Word!

What kind of Bible should I get?

When just starting, finding a Bible that is easy to understand is essential. I recommend the NIV (New International Version) or the ESV (English Standard Version).

The NIV is an excellent choice for beginners because it is written in clear, easy-to-understand language. The NIV has been my go-to choice for over 20 years. 

The ESV is also a good option and uses more traditional language. Many churches use the ESV in their sermons and information.

Once more comfortable reading the Bible, you can explore other versions like the NLT (New Living Translation) or the NKJV (New King James Version).

If you’re unsure which version to choose, use a Bible App like YouVersion or Bible Gateway and check out all the various versions. Which one do you best understand? If you’re confused by the language, and it doesn’t speak to you, you probably won’t continue to read the Bible.

No matter what version you choose, I recommend a study Bible. A study Bible will have notes and commentary to help you understand what you’re reading. 

I recommend the NIV Life Application Study Bible. It’s been my Bible for over 20 years. 

I hope these tips have been helpful as you start your journey in Bible study! Remember, there is no wrong way to approach the Bible. Just find a method that works best for you and dive in! As you read, remember to pray and ask God to help you understand what he is saying to you through his Word.

Bible Studies for Beginners: Where to Start, What to Read, and More