These are some of the questions I have been wrestling with lately. They grew out of life group preparations; we are going to be reading and interpreting the book of Ruth together and I have been musing on community Bible study.
John Piper has written an excellent book on reading God's word called Reading the Bible Supernaturally. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
In the preface he had this to say:
Now part of the communal reading of the Bible that Piper is talking is that which is done at church on a Sunday morning. But I believe that we would do well to find ways to expand our reading and studying of the Bible together whether that be a formalised event like life group or an informal gathering of friends. Maybe meeting over the Word and a cup of coffee with a close companion or maybe a less mature believer whom you can disciple. This could happen in many ways at many times; the opportunities are almost endless.
To write a book that you hope will help others see more of God in the Christian Scriptures is to acknowledge that God intends that a reader of his word understand it and enjoy it with the help of others. … Another way to say it is that God reveals more of himself through his word when it is read in community than he does when it is read in isolation. … Therefore, I see myself, and this book, as one small part of God’s unfathomably complex matrix of influences that make up the Christian community of discovery and illumination. Therefore, nothing in this book should be construed to imply that its aim is to produce isolated Bible readers. It is a stone tossed into a pool of people. Its ripple effect, if any, will flow through relationships. Its aim is to be part of God’s global purpose to create a beautiful bride for his Son— “the church . . . in splendor, without spot or wrinkle . . . holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). The beauty of that bride consists largely in the humble, holy, happy, loving way Christians treat each other. If the end is corporate glory, we should not be surprised that the means is corporate growth. We read the word together; we reach the end together. [emphasis mine]
Do you read the Bible in community outside of church?
Consider finding a way to add this to your disciplines. I think it is biblical, and beneficial!