So, You Want to Lead a Bible Study?

It was a cold January Minnesota evening, after a busy Christmas season. A good night to stay cozy at home. Would anyone be brave enough, or interested enough to come to church for a seminar about leading Bible studies? The answer was, “Yes!” Twenty-six women filled the room—from teenager to senior citizen, from those who had led Bible studies for decades to those who had never led before.

Janet Anderson was the presenter, sharing wisdom and tips from her years of experience training the staff at Inspiration Point Christian Camp and Retreat Center. She began the session by directing us to look at the Scriptures together, to discover the reason for leading. The result? An excitement and passion for God’s Word that was contagious, as we recognized again what an amazing privilege it is to hear from God! The Creator of the Universe cares about us. Became one of us. Died for us. Speaks to us! Calls us to share these words with others, and equips us to do so. “If not you, who will pass on the message of the gospel to others, to the next generation?”

Then it became very practical. This was both an excellent preview for new leaders, and a needed refresher for the rest. Here are some excerpts:
  • Make your room inviting. Be prepared. Be early, so you can greet each participant. Be enthusiastic—the Bible is not boring! Don’t try to impress people with big words or “church words”—be genuine, defining unfamiliar words. Be careful with people. Don’t put them on the spot by assuming they’ll feel at ease reading aloud, praying, or giving a testimony. They may not, so give them a chance to feel comfortable.
  • Build community. Establish it through trust, unity, and belonging. Think about bringing each person just one step closer to Jesus.
  • Be a safe leader. How? Live your whole life in this way, not just during a weekly study time. Value every person and communicate that in words and actions. Never embarrass anyone in front of others. Never tell jokes about or make fun of certain kinds of people. Be trusted to keep confidences when someone shares their life with you.
  • Prepare well. Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to give understanding. Discover one big idea. What does God want us to understand/believe from this passage? Think about questions that will get to the heart issue.
  • A simple format is good. Use discussion starters that everyone can relate to. Read the Scripture, defining words if needed. Ask questions of the group. (Wait eighteen seconds for a response: six for them to realize there’s a question out there, six to formulate a response, six to gain courage to respond out loud!) Use questions that answer “What? So what? Now what?” (observation, interpretation, application). Point the group to Christ: instead of “What should we do?” think “What has Christ done?” Close with prayer.

Home Bible studies are places to connect easily with women and disciple them. Are we willing? God can and will use us to further his kingdom here and abroad!

Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship correspondent for Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.
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