|Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches|
Title: 16. How to Lead a Group Bible Study
A page that explains a variety of approaches to Studying the Bible
This page is for those who find themselves having the joy and the privilege of leading others in a group Bible Study.
The purpose of the page is to help you focus on what you are trying to do and how you may go about it.
The writer to the Hebrews wrote: "...by this time you ought to be teachers" i.e. he assumed that once they got to grips with the truths of the word of God they would pass it on.
On that basis we will consider some guidelines for leading a Group Study.
2. The PURPOSE of the Bible Study
a) Group Study:
This is NOT teaching others what you have found out but guiding others in a group context to find out for themselves. If you have been blessed by what you have found in God's word use your excitement to motivate them but DON 'T do all the work for them - you will rob them of the joy of finding it themselves!
It is essential that you achieve a blend of directive leadership while allowing each individual to be involved. Members of such a group need to feel that you are in control but also that they can still be fully involved.
If you involve each member of the group, they will gain confidence in their own ability to study the Bible on their own when they are back at home.
Obviously you desire each member of the group to come to the same understanding of the truths of Scripture that you have found, of what the Bible passage actually says.
3. Your PREPARATION for the Study
If you are to SERVE the group as its leader, you need to thoroughly prepare for it by:
a) Reading through the passage and obtaining a good understanding of it yourself - know what it says, the structure etc.
b) Praying for the group members and yourself leading them.
c) Deciding on your method of approach e.g. verse by verse, theme study etc.
4. Your PARTICIPATION in the Study
a) Give a few brief words of introduction, saying what the passage is that you will be looking at and give sufficient explanation to put the study passage in context.
b) If there are difficult words in the passage that may not be under stood by ALL the group members, then simply and briefly explain them. NB. sometimes part of the study may be examining word meanings so don't do all the work for the group.
c) Tell the group how you are going to approach the study. e.g. "What we are going to do is read the passage right through first, then take it two verses at a time and have a few minutes to think through and discuss those verses".
d) Keep an eye on the time and keep the group moving on so that you do not spend too long on any one part.
e) Use easy starter questions to get the group involved and initially address them to the whole group. Later on when they feel relaxed and involved, bring in open ended questions that draw specific individuals in without making them feel awkward e.g. "How do you feel about that?" Use deeper questions to stretch the group.
f) Deal with all answers positively. Encourage by your responses, even when a way-out answer is given. If someone has a question see if the group can answer it first. Then if it needs more you may fill it out, but only if needed.
g) Seek to find the meaning of the passage by considering each verse, and be clear and specific about what is clear and specific in the passage. Minimise speculation about things that are not specific.
h) After finding the meaning of the passage as the original writer meant it, you can then seek spiritual principles and lessons from it, asking how the group thinks it applies to life today.
i) At the end of the study recap what you've covered and either pray or give an open invitation for anyone in the group to pray, thanking the Lord for what you've learnt from the passage and asking for His help to apply it to your lives.
j) After the study assess it and consider what went well and what needs improving next time (see below).
k) Do not be afraid of being seen to be the leader but do NOT dominate.
5. PROBLEMS with the Study
a) Where some people OVER PARTICIPATE, specifically invite other individuals to comment, or say, "Let's all think about this next part quietly first, then perhaps someone who hasn't said much so far might like to share what they think."
b) Where some people UNDER PARTICIPATE, encourage them to join in by asking simple direct questions of an easy nature, requiring little more than just "yes" or "no", or open ended easy questions.
c) Where WRONG THINKING is introduced by a member of the group, either:
i) gently state the overall Scriptural position and bring balance or
ii) suggest the point be dealt with at the end.
d) Where a RED HERRING is introduced, firmly but gently lead the discussion back onto course with a suitable comment such as, "Well, perhaps we can look at that when we've finished the main study."
e) Where you have an ARGUMENTATIVE PERSON, gently suggest that the point be considered, as above, at the end.
f) Where you have a DIFFICULT QUESTION and you realise that you don't have an answer, see if anyone else has an answer first, and then if not, simply say, "I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that but I'll find out and let you know".
6. PRACTISING it all
Well, have fun, but remember, no ego tripping! You are there to serve other people, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to help them become as thrilled with God's word as you are.
Remember, before you go to lead your group, ask yourself the following questions:
7. PONDER your success
After the study think back and consider how it went: