By Rachel Kovaciny
When a group of ladies from our church decided to start a monthly women's Bible study last year, we felt overwhelmed by the multitude of woman-focused Bible studies available. Did we want to study great Biblical women? Focus on the fruits of the spirit? Learn about Christian motherhood? There are many, many wonderful resources for women's Bible study groups out there, but we eventually chose to use Pew Sisters by Katie Schuermann for our first twelve meetings.
The tagline for Pew Sisters is "Real women. Real lives. Real stories of God's faithfulness," and that encapsulates the book's focus very nicely. Each of the twelve chapters begins with an applicable Bible passage, then the story of a Christian woman struggling with a specific issue. The issues vary widely, from postpartum depression to the loss of a loved one, from forgiving an ex-husband to surviving a hurricane, from unexpected pregnancy to a cancer diagnosis.
After presenting the story, each chapter moves on to a set of study questions. These are not only about the story, but about theology involved in the issue at hand and how the Bible applies to our own lives. Next, "A Moment in the Pew" reflects on the issue presented, and the chapter closes with related hymn stanzas for reflection and a prayer. In our Bible study group, those study questions really help us share our own experiences and ways that God has touched our lives. We share our own stories of wrestling with some faith-related problem, encourage each other, and find ways to apply Biblical truths.
At the very back of the book, Schuermann has included answers from two Lutheran pastors to all the study questions for each chapter. We have also taken to asking our own pastor to provide us with some insights to guide our meditation and learning, to gain yet another perspective. I love that the author provided some pastoral input, because it means you could totally use this book for personal devotions instead of in a group, and you'll still be gaining some new perspectives and learning new things.
From this book, and our group's discussions of it, I have learned how very similar my life is to those of my sisters in Christ. We may come from disparate backgrounds, vary widely in age, and all have our own unique personalities, but we all struggle with the same things, like relying on God in tough times, living out our faith, and making decisions based on God's Word instead of our human thoughts and emotions. I don't need to have had the exact same experiences as they have to understand what it means to deal with a particular problem, or to learn from their stories about ways God uses events in our lives to help us grow in our walk with him.
Whether you're looking for a book for your own personal study or to share with a group, Pew Sisters by Katie Schuermann is a great way to learn about ways God moves in the lives of Christians.
Rachel was homeschooled K-12, then attended Bethany Lutheran College for four years. A month after graduating with a BA in Liberal Arts, she married her first and only boyfriend. Now she passes the time by reading, writing, baking, watching movies, crocheting, blogging, and homeschooling her three children. Her least-favorite activities include house-cleaning and wearing shoes, and she's been known to go to great lengths to avoid both. Rachel is a regular contributor to the online magazine Femnista, and she blogs under the nom de blog "Hamlette" about books at The Edge of the Precipice, and about movies, writing, and life at Hamlette's Soliloquy.