Ashley Merck, Vision Magazine Graphic Artist
Doing something amazing for God doesn’t necessarily mean doing something extraordinary, like traveling across the globe to do mission work as many Christians tend to believe. True, the Lord calls us to go and make disciples in Matthew 28:19, but that doesn’t limit us to international mission work only. No, we can make disciples in our own community, and one way to do that is through starting a Bible study/small group. Now, you may be thinking, “What if I’m not good enough to be a Bible study leader?” Well, God can and will use you no matter how intimidated you are at the thought of holding a Bible study. Here are some steps on how you can become a successful Bible study leader.
1. Be Prayerful – This may sound cliché in Christian culture, but it’s very important to have a personal, intimate relationship with God before you attempt to lead others closer to Him. Prayer is foundational and should be front and center in your ministry. Before even beginning the small group, pray over it and ask that God will bless your ministry. Also pray for those who are in your small group sessions, that they will grow closer to Christ in the process of attending the Bible study.
2. Be Prepared – Preparation is crucial when leading a Bible study. Know the material and diligently study the Word before attempting to teach a lesson. Ruth McWhite, director of women’s ministry at North Greenville University (NGU), who delights in leading Bible study groups explained that it is key to always know the main point when conducting
your own study. “I have recently been leading a group of girls through the book of Ephesians and we were studying chapter four,” said McWhite, “the main theme I wanted them to see was unity which was mentioned in the beginning of the chapter…though the chapter contained multiple themes, I wanted to focus their attention on unity.”
3. Be Precise – 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” With that being said, the Bible should be taught carefully and accurately. So often our human nature kicks in and we begin to take Holy scripture out of its context to meet our needs rather than seeing God’s original intentions. When leading your group, ask God to open your eyes, heart and mind to the scripture you are teaching and ask Him to show you how He intended it to be read.
While these are just a few steps on how to lead an effective Bible study, there may be some other questions spinning through your mind like, “do I solely use the Bible or can I use a study book?” or “what’s the best way to initiate the first meeting?”
Eden Crain, a junior Christian studies major, has been leading Bible studies since the ninth grade and plans to start her own women’s ministry after graduating from NGU. Crain is passionate about reading and teaching the Bible to others and has some insight on how to effectively lead your own Bible study.
First and foremost, the Bible should be the primary source you use when leading a small group. “Use the Bible first…study books should be secondary and should never replace the Word of God,” explained Crain. Study books can be great when used as a compliment to the Bible itself.
McWhite suggests that you don’t need fancy materials in order to hold an effective Bible study. “My favorite way to lead a Bible study is having my girls use the Bible. All they need is a notebook and pen,” said McWhite.
One method McWhite uses to accompany the scripture when leading a study is the Anne Graham Lotz method. This method consists of charting three columns on paper and reflecting on the effects that the passage of scripture you chose has. In the left column, you can summarize what the scriptures say in your own words. The lessons that can be learned from the scriptures goes in the middle column. And lastly, how does the scripture apply in your life right now fits in the right hand column.
After establishing the scriptural foundation of your small group, you need to be aware of what works best when executing the lesson. “I want my group to feel engaged,” explained Crain, “I like leaving room for open ended discussion when leading a Bible study.”
Having an open ended discussion means providing questions that doesn’t end up being a simple yes or no answer. And while preparing for a great discussion and finding the answers ahead of time is exciting, christianitytoday.com warns that if you quickly give the answer before the discussion truly begins, you will “kill the effectiveness of the question.”
McWhite also explains that to be an effective leader, you need to have control over the discussion. Oftentimes, one attendee may want to take over the discussion and answer all the questions. “You need to give everyone the chance to join the discussion as you take control of the discussion, [and that] requires a lot of grace,” explained McWhite.
All these steps to becoming an effective Bible study leader are merely suggestions. If you truly want to be a successful leader, you must listen to God’s voice and let Him lead you. After
all, it is all for His glory anyway and He knows what He wants you to accomplish. Have faith, study the Word and trust in Him as you prepare in leading your next small group meeting.