Bible Study Guide: How to Start (or Contribute to) a Successful Group
Have you ever wondered how to do a Bible study? Check out this handy Bible study guide to set yourself up for success as you dig into God’s Word with others.
How do you start a group Bible study? Or how do you contribute to one you’ve just joined? Bible studies are a fantastic opportunity for Christian fellowship and spiritual growth. We all want to get the best out of our time studying God’s Word with others, but how can we set ourselves up for success? Well, we’ve provided a Bible study guide to help you do just that by looking at three components that make up a successful group study – the people, the purpose, and, of course, the Bible. Check it out below to help you on your way.
First things first, you need to know who will be participating in your Bible study group. Don’t be discouraged if things start out small and you only have a few regulars. There is no magic number to make up a perfect study group! God can use any number of people for his glory. Once you have a group in mind, you’ll move on to the when and where.
Be consistent and plan ahead
The next step of this Bible study guide is to set up a consistent time to meet that works for your group. It could be once a week or once a month, it’s really up to you! Ideally, you won’t want too much time in between sessions so you can keep up the momentum built as a study group. But, once again, it depends on the people in your Bible study. Talk through consistent times and a place (or places) to meet. The key here is that whatever you choose, each member should be as consistent as possible in attending.
But that doesn’t mean that you or others won’t miss a session from time to time. That’s okay! It happens. What you can do, though, is agree on a plan for those who can’t attend. They could still go through the readings on their own so that they will be caught up next time. And those in attendance could share highlights and prayer requests to those who missed the session.
Agree on a goal
Next, as a group, you’ll want to define the purpose of your Bible study. This is important to communicate ahead of time, so everyone knows what they are committing to. If everyone starts on the same page, there is less chance of members dropping out of a Bible study because it’s not what they thought it was going to be.
So, what could these goals look like? There are many options to choose from! Your group could read through the Gospels to examine the life of Jesus and his commands, you could learn from a book of wisdom like Proverbs or Psalms, discuss one of Paul’s letters or read about the history of the early Church, or even focus on a topic or spiritual discipline found in the Bible. The choice is yours!
Taking the “spiritual temperature” of a group
One important thing to do as your group agrees to a Bible study goal: gauge where you and the other members of your group are at in their walk with Christ. Now, to be clear – this is not to create some sort of judgement or comparisons with your brothers and sisters in Christ. But if done in a loving way, in can help clarify what will be most helpful for everyone involved.
For example, if many of your Bible study members came to Christ recently, then your Bible study might be better served focusing on more foundational aspects of the faith and how God communicates to us in his Word. If your group is more mature in their faith, it might be good to tackle a more advanced topic. Talk with your group and discover what things God has been laying on their hearts. That could very well guide your study!
Prepare in prayer
Okay, so now you’ve got your group and your goal. Now comes the most important thing of this Bible study guide – God’s Word! As you dig into the Bible together, make prayer a priority before you begin. Ask God to guide your understanding and bless your time together. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (ESV). Jesus will be with you as you seek his will! Prayer is a wonderful opportunity to invite God into a Bible study from the start. Ultimately, God being a part of our study and fellowship is what will make it successful.
Read the Bible out loud together
This sounds pretty obvious, but your group should read the Bible out loud together! There is power in the practice of public reading Scripture, as we’ve discussed before. Take turns speaking God’s Word out loud for the group. Then, each member can talk about what in the Scriptures stood out to them.
Context and commentary
As you dig into the Bible, make sure that everyone is aware of the context of the passages you read. Why did the author say something and when did they say it? Who was their original audience and what was the history of the time they were living in? God’s Word is still as relevant to us today as it was when it was written, but it can be helpful to know the background behind it. That knowledge can provide a better understanding of the Scriptures and form a greater connection with the words that are read.
This is where a commentary or other supplemental resource can help. It can provide the context of a book or passage in the Bible in a concise way that allows you to stay in God’s Word and get the background information that can be helpful.
Give it to God
Hopefully this Bible study guide has been helpful, and you feel equipped to start or contribute to a study of your own! Whatever you choose to do, do it for God’s glory! Bible study is important so we can better understand our Lord and Savior and who he made us to be. Commit the time to God and he will use it to bless your group and grow you spiritually. Now, go get started!
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