Do you want to do a Bible study and would rather do it in community with other women rather than by yourself? Maybe you do not think you know enough of the Bible to do so. Does the thought of directing a discussion make your knees tremble? What if someone talks too much or not at all? Be assured that everyone feels inadequate when they start out. You are not alone. I have been where you are. Thankfully, Jesus took me beyond my insecurities. In this post, I will assure you that Jesus will do the same for you. Now may be the time to step out in faith and just do it.
Where It Began for Me
I remember being a young Christian woman who was just learning how to dive into the Bible and find all its treasures. I was learning so much about Jesus that I wanted to share that learning experience with others. But, I did not know how. I tried a few small study guides and read them with a group of friends. Then, I joined an organized women’s Bible Study where I was learning so much from my personal study, but the discussion leaders just had us go around the circle reading and answering the questions. It was not very enthusiastic, either!
I knew there had to be a better way to make the Bible come alive for people so they would want to soak it up as much as I wanted to do. Sharing what you are learning from your personal Bible study should be fun, not boring! After all, it is God’s words to us so that we can know His immense love for us more and more.
Women’s Bible Study Discussion Should Be Joyful and Fun!
Fast forward a few years. We were led by the Lord to a church that had a fledgling women’s Bible Study going. The group wrote their own studies so they were invested in them. I saw the enthusiasm of the women involved. The leaders met together to share their own answers and what they were learning on their own from the study then carried that enthusiasm to the small group discussion. This was full of joy, and fun!
They asked me to be a part of that ministry, and that is where it took off for me! Many of the Bible Studies on my website came directly from that ministry, which was appropriately called JOY Bible Study. My joyful walk with Jesus was stimulated through that ministry. As I participated in different small groups watching other joy-filled women lead the Bible Study discussion, I learned that I could do it. I was able to step above my insecurities and learn how to lead a Bible Study discussion with joy and confidence. That so changed my life!
From my experience, I want to share with you three reasons why you can lead a small group Bible Study even if you have never done it before.
3 Reasons Why You Can Lead a Bible Study
1. You can lead a Bible Study BY FAITH.
Christians are to live every day by faith. Anything Jesus leads you to do, He enables you to do it by His Spirit living inside you. If you are being prompted by the Lord to start and lead a Bible Study group, just say to Him, “Yes, I will do this, Lord. Please help me.” Jesus is with you every step of the way.
2. You can lead a Bible Study WITHOUT KNOWING ALL THE ANSWERS.
No one knows all the answers anyway! Just delete that insecurity from your mind. You do not need a seminary degree to lead a Bible Study for others. All you need is a teachable heart and mind. Ask Jesus to teach you what you need to know for your group. Being the leader presses you to grow and learn for yourself. Then, you share what are learning as you lead others to do the same. It is a win-win!
3. You can lead a Bible Study EVEN IF YOU ARE SCARED.
Actually, being scared is a good thing. It teaches you how to depend on Jesus Christ more. And, whatever leads you to rely on Him more than relying on yourself is a good thing for you. We are to live by faith in Him and let Him live His life through us. It is okay to say, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own, but you can do this in me and through me. I will trust you with this.”
So, just hand over your insecurities to Jesus and trust Him with whatever is holding you back from leading a Bible Study for your friends. You can do this by faith, without knowing all the answers, and even if you are scared. Actually, being scared is a good thing because it teaches you how to depend on Jesus Christ more.
Check out “The 5 C’s of Small Group Leadership” resource on the Bible.org women’s page. That handbook also includes ideas to help you overcome insecurity about leading a Bible Study group in another area—dealing with the “What if’s…” as you lead a study.
Handling 6 “What if’s…” as You Lead a Study
There are challenges that all Bible Study discussion leaders face. I call them the “What if’s….”
- What if I cannot get everyone to participate in the discussion?
- What if someone keeps talking on and on and on?
- What if I am feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility?
- What if someone asks a question, and I don’t know the answer?
- What if some are not doing their lessons ahead of time?
- What if someone drops out of the group?
You can probably think of quite a few more. One thing I want you to remember when it comes to handling the “What if’s” is that Jesus will help you with all of these challenges to leading a Bible Study group. Depend on Him to show you what to do. He is faithful!
Here are some words that the Lord Jesus gave to Paul to write down for us:
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
There are gracious, loving ways to respond to the common challenges that both experienced and new leaders face. You can trust in Jesus to help you do this.
“What if” #1: What if I cannot get everyone to participate in the discussion?
You know what? It is not your job to make everyone talk. I have learned that people will share when they are ready to do so. Calling on people to make them participate often makes the shyer ones feel like not coming back. Be patient. Listen well and affirm answers as they are shared.
“What if” #2: What if someone keeps talking on and on and on?
If you are the talkative one, mark the question(s) where you want to share an answer. Otherwise, let the rest of the group members answer the questions. Ask Jesus to help you think of words you can use to jump in and sum up what they just said. Use humor. Quickly thank them for an answer, turn your eyes away, and move on. You are the “content guardian” for your group, that is, you need to keep the discussion focused on the lesson, what the biblical text says, and what participants are learning from their own study. The group depends on you to do this so you do not have to let the talkative people dominate your group.
“What if” #3: What if I am feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility?
Ask someone in the group to be your helper with the organizational stuff. If your group is large enough, ask someone to be your co-leader so that she would be prepared with her lesson to step in if something happened to you one day. It is always good to have someone else take ownership of the group besides you. And it gives experience to someone else in leading a group. Ask outgoing women to help with making others feel connected to the group
“What if” #4: What if someone asks a question, and I don’t know the answer?
Assume you will get asked questions for which you don’t know the answers. Remember your role is “content guardian.” Stay focused on the lesson. Dwell on what you can know. Avoid speculation just to come up with an answer. Humbly accept what you cannot know or don’t understand. Say, “I don’t know.” You can always research it. A great source is here on Bible.org. Another good resource for answering specific questions is gotquestions.org.
“What if” #5: What if some are not doing their lessons ahead of time?
Assume this will happen. You cannot control this. Do not let it annoy you. Encourage them to come to the study and learn as you read the Bible passages and discuss them together. Realize that some people are so busy with work, school, and family, that they have a hard time finding extra time to do another thing for themselves. It could be just the season of life. Keep encouraging them to feed themselves from God’s Word, even if they only do the first page of the lesson. Do something. If this is the majority of your group, pick a shorter Bible study that can be done in one sitting.
“What if” #6: What if someone drops out of the group?
Do not take this personally. Give any feelings of insecurity to Jesus! Some sign up for a Bible study group with good intentions of doing the lessons and attending regularly. But, things get in the way. Try to find out the reasons why. More than likely it is not your leadership but that person’s season of life. Or their schedule has changed preventing them from continuing.
If you have newcomers to your group, or those who don’t already feel connected, make an effort to connect with them personally. I find that if I connect with someone who stays on the “fringe” or outside of the group, there is a higher likelihood that they will continue to try out the group. Then, I have a better chance to connect her with the other group members.
Ask a trusted friend to let you know if your leadership style might be pushing someone away. If there is anything you can address with her or with the group to keep her coming, do that. Otherwise, just let it go.
Yes, You Can Lead a Bible Study
See, that is not so hard, is it? Don’t let these “What if’s” hold you back from jumping in with both feet to lead a Bible Study for some friends. So, just hand over your insecurities to Jesus and trust Him with whatever is holding you back from leading a Bible Study for your friends. You can do this by faith, without knowing all the answers, and if you are scared. Actually, being scared is a good thing because it teaches you how to depend on Jesus Christ more. And He will help you handle the “What if’s…” as they come up in your group
My handbook “Be a Christ-Focused Small Group Leader” is a resource for you to use to answer most questions about leading a small group. For more help to start a Bible Study group, read my blog, Launch: Start and Lead a Bible Study Group.
Read or listen to “Launch: Start and Lead a Bible Study Group.”
- Women’s Bible Study Curriculum on Bible.org
- The 5 C’s of Small Group Leadership on Bible.org (especially chapters 3 and 4)
- Bible Study Small Group Guidelines and Priorities on Bible.org
- Leadership Resources on Bible.org
- Be a Christ-Focused Small Group Leader
- Launch: Start and Lead a Bible Study Group
- Lifestyle Disciplemaking for All Christians