Now that you have decided to start a group, let’s look at How to Lead a Bible Study. We’ve already established that the most important things you need are a servant’s heart and a genuine desire to help others know Jesus and His Word in a way that builds and encourages them. Here are 9 Steps to Success.
1 – Pray
Prayer is the foundation for everything we do. Here is one of the Scriptures from 10 Steps to Start a Women’s Bible Study Group.
“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life,” Philippians 4:6 TPT
Pray about everything. The foundation of all your preparation must be prayer. Pray for guidance and then listen for it. Write down what God tells you. He will give you guidance and ideas. He will work inside you, giving wisdom, insight, compassion, joy, inspiration and much more. He will give you all you need to lead others into a closer walk with Him.
If you already know some of the women who will be attending, begin praying for them now. Ask God to help you see their strengths, needs, and how to build them up in His love. Then, begin to pray for every person who attends.
Encourage prayer requests during your prayer time and write them down. Then, throughout the week, pray for what’s important to them. If there is a particularly difficult situation, check in with that person via email or a phone call.
2 – Prepare
Once you have picked the material you will be using for the Bible Study, begin diligently studying. You need to know the material. Notice, I didn’t say you needed to know all the answers! Just know the material better than anyone other than your co-leader.
Hopefully, you purchased the study materials a few weeks before the Group started. This gives you time to read the entire study and then hone in on the first lesson.
If you purchased or downloaded a study, start thinking about questions you could ask to stimulate conversation. Even if the particular study already has questions, see if you can think of some which might pertain specifically to your group. They don’t have to deeply profound but should spark comments.
Stay away from questions that can be answered with just a yes or no. Sometimes they are necessary so be prepared to follow up something like, “Jane, could you share what led you to your answer?” Ask each person to share their thoughts.
You need to know the material so that you are not caught completely off guard by some comments. No one expects you to be a Biblical scholar and there are three words that will come in handy – “I don’t know.” That is to be followed by, “but, I will try to find out and get back to you.” Maybe, someone in the group will have the answer. If so, that’s great. Just don’t pretend.
The main point is to really know and understand the material. Then formulate a few appropriate and stimulating questions that take the conversation somewhere.
3 – Care and Connect
As you know, the women who come need to know that you care about them. On the first day of the study, it’s a good idea to allow each person to introduce and tell a little about themselves. Think of a question you can ask each one. For instance, “What is one thing about you that no one else here would know?” That’s a fun and non-threatening question.
It would also be good to hand out a short Getting to Know You questionnaire for them to complete and give back to you. Get their info like name, email address, Yes or no on texting, children and names, husband’s name if applicable, their birthdate, favorite color, and snack food.
Then, you can do fun things like bring each woman’s favorite snack food each week. You can send birthday cards, and pray for their entire family. Give them something in their favorite color. Inquire about their family by name.
Text or private message everyone at least once during the week. These little things show them that you genuinely care about them, not just about leading a Bible Study.
4 – Facilitate and Lead By Example
As the Bible Study Leader, you hold several roles. You are the leader:
A simple definition is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. … He or she is the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills that makes others want to follow his or her direction.
You are also a facilitator and a teacher. This is the role of a Facilitator:
someone or something that facilitates something especially: someone who helps to bring about an outcome (such as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.
You may not think of yourself as s teacher, and that probably won’t be your primary role, but you will teach at times. Here is the definition of Teacher:
A teacher (also called a school teacher or, in some contexts, an educator) is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone (e.g. when showing a colleague how to perform a specific task).
People want to follow you if you care about them and are helping them. You are studying and praying and leading to help them move toward a positive outcome, and, occasionally, help them acquire knowledge. Remember, they need to know you care, that you are reliable, can keep a confidence, and have their best as your goal.
Every teacher needs a co-leader. If you can, have another person who is as invested in the group as you are and who is willing to do the necessary work. If you have to take a week off, there is no disruption for the group. You might want to work out a schedule ahead of time. Perhaps there are a few lessons that your co-leader would excel at. Or, you could alternate every other week.
Be sure to acknowledge your co-leader in the group and then work as a team to make this the best group ever.
There are tasks that the ladies in the Bible Study can do. You could put one in charge of the weekly snacks and refreshments. Another one could be in charge of childcare. If some of the ladies are crafters, encourage them to make something for each one in the group or even have a craft day to share their skills and give everyone else a chance to learn.
Helpers can be prayer partners, do outreach to the ladies, make sure the necessary supplies are there each week, send out encouraging texts or messages each week, or do set up and clean up each week. These are just a few ideas but it makes each person feel like they are a necessary part because they are!
Don’t Preach – Just Lead
Your role is to lead. You also keep things flowing, on point, and on time. Ask questions and provide some answers but remember, this isn’t a time for a 30-minute sermon – unless that’s the format of the study. Otherwise, let the materials and women speak as you add commentary, direction, encouragement, and insight. It’s wonderful if you can expand on a point or a scripture. Just be sensitive.
There will probably be certain lessons which require to do some teaching. Everyone will appreciate this aspect of your leadership.
Guide the Discussion
Every group usually has at least one person who is shy and won’t talk, along with another who might talk a little too much. Learn how to gently encourage the quiet one to participate but never force, push, or point them out. If they never talk, that’s up to them. But normally, after a few times, they will begin to trust and talk.
The person who talks too much requires a different approach. You don’t want to embarrass them but you also can’t allow them to hijack the study. This is a group and everyone is equally important. One way to address this is to talk about it at the very beginning of the study. The first time you meet you establish direction and boundaries – positive ones. Then reiterate as necessary.
If that doesn’t work, you may have to interrupt someone and simply point out that, because time is limited, it would be good to allow others to share and then they could finish their story in the fellowship time after the Bible Study. Usually, people figure it out and the study flourishes.
What if someone asks a question that leads the group into a different direction. However, you know that this particular topic will be covered in the next lesson. You can stay on topic by simply saying, “That is a great topic to look at it and it’s what we will be talking about next week. For now, what about….?” Then lead them back to the current lesson.
5 – Establish Direction and Boundaries
On the very first day, have a little list of directions for the group. That will include time. For instance:
- Fellowship and snacks will begin at 9:00 a.m.
- The Bible Study will open with prayer at 9:30
- Worship from 9:35 to 9:45
- Bible Study from 9:45 to 10:15
- Discussion and prayer from 10:15 to 10:30
- Bible Study ends at 10:30-10:45 with open time of Fellowship and snacks till 11.
From there you can lay out a few more guidelines like those below – no gossip, everyone gets a chance, no criticism, etc,
It’s important to start and end on time. Be considerate of other’s time and needs. If 9:30 comes and only two people are there, start anyway. When 11:00 comes, end the study even if there is robust conversation taking place. Just interrupt for a moment, let them know that the study has ended and whoever needs to leave is free to go and that the conversation can continue.
If you are meeting in someone’s home, be considerate of their needs as well. Perhaps the people engaged in the conversation can take a break, go to another location, and carry on from there. As a matter of integrity and consideration, start and end when you said you would.
Confidentiality and Consideration
It’s important to make it clear that the things shared in the group will not be discussed outside the group unless the person sharing has given specific permission. Everyone needs to know that this is a safe place to share their struggles and needs and this means no gossip or talking about things others have shared.
The only exception to this is if someone shares abuse of some kind. Then, you would need to talk with the person privately to help them or to let them know that you are mandated to report their disclosure to the police. If child abuse is disclosed, you are legally required to report it. While it is highly unlikely this would happen, it’s good to know ahead of time.
Everyone Gets a Chance
Also, let it be known that it’s really important that ever has an equal chance to share and participate. So, if one person has already shared, perhaps they could wait to share again until the others have had an opportunity.
Build Each Other’s Faith
When one woman shares a struggle she is having, no criticism is allowed. That’s the last thing anyone needs. The goal of the group is to build each other up in love. Have scripture to help emphasize that and make it a positive rather than a negative.
“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” Romans 8:1 TPT
Also, there is no such thing as a dumb question. If you don’t know, it doesn’t make you dumb. It just means you didn’t know and the purpose of the group is to build up and help one another. So, all questions are good questions.
6 – Inspire and Encourage
Your positive attitude will be contagious. If you are hopeful, the group will be as well. Unless, of course, someone is going through a particularly hard time. They might struggle but your overcoming example will help them through. This is inspiration. Inspire them to have new vision and stretch themselves in Jesus.
He gave his life for us so that we may share in resurrection life in union with him—whether we’re awake or asleep. Because of this, encourage the hearts of your fellow believers and support one another, just as you have already been doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 TPT
Encourage them to ask questions and share. Encourage laughter, sharing, and trust. Find ways to give individual encouragement. You can do this as you are attentive to the needs they share or the things they seem to be uncertain about. When they do share, give genuine compliments. Compliment and show gratitude to your helpers and the hostess (if applicable). Everyone appreciates a compliment. And, encourage growth and application of all they are learning.
Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning. Hebrews 10:24-25 TPT
Help them find the right answer. Perhaps, someone has said something which is not biblical or is simply incorrect. You can make a statement like, “Thank you for answering. Do you think there might be even more we can gain from this point?” Take the conversation in the correct direction and help the person to find the correct information.
And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them. Ephesians 4:29 TPT
7 – Be Flexible
Change things up and do a journaling day. If you are studying from a book, watch a video. Play a game. The game doesn’t have to make a point or even be ‘spiritual.’ The ladies need to have fun together. Laughing, playing, eating, praying, and crying together are all good and help the group to bond and begin to care about each other. Friendships develop.
There are times when a group may begin to take a direction away from the study for that day. Be sensitive because this might be where they need to go that day. God may be changing the direction to meet the needs of one person or the whole group. Be flexible enough to let it happen while making sure it maintains a positive flow
Change the Study material. You might encounter a situation where, even though the Study material is good, the group just isn’t getting anything from it. So, you might need to think of some alternatives and then go to the group to see what they would like to do. It’s not a failure on your part, it’s just that the needs of the group shifted. Is it extra work for you? Yes, but, if your goal was to build up others, then you will tackle it with joy knowing that the results will be even better than you anticipated!
8 – Be Real
As the leader, you need to set an example in being real and vulnerable. However, you need to do it within boundaries. First, don’t air all your family’s dirty laundry. In fact, don’t share about your family struggles unless you are positive they are fine with it. Share about your kids but don’t share the personal things. Your family deserves privacy. Share about yourself and generalities about your family if you need to, only sharing some of the deeper issues after you have discussed it with the ones involved. Use discretion:
“the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information.”
If you have a weak area, say so. Weaknesses, flaws, faults, struggles, and failures are part of the human condition and something we all share. No one is exempt. Be real, share your struggle, share how it affected others if appropriate, and share how you overcame or are overcoming. It also helps to know how others persevered and conquered sin, failure, hard times, and weaknesses.
Our goal must be to empower others to do what is right and good for them, and to bring them into spiritual maturity. Romans 15:2 TPT
9 – Have Fun
While seriousness is required at times, you, the leader, need to be having some fun. Same for the women in your group. Enjoy the process, people, situations, and bumps you may encounter. Rejoice in the Lord and His goodness and share that joyful spirit with everyone. It’s contagious!
There are unexpected things that will happen, but for the most part, leading a Bible Study is a wonderful experience. God supports you and you will learn far more than anyone else in the process of study and leadership. You will make new friends, enrich close friendships, learn about yourself, and grow in faith.
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
You might also enjoy reading –10 Steps to Start a Women’s Bible Study Group.