Help Those New to the Bible-Melanie Newton

Help Those New to the Bible

Are you discipling a new Christian? Do you have women in your small group that are new to the Bible? As a leader, do you ask if anyone in your small group is new to the Bible? What do you do if they are? Do you assume that new Christians or those new to the Bible will catch up by just being in your group? That is a bad assumption?! In this article, I will share with you some insights I have picked up about helping those new to the Bible.

The Dilemma

I recently heard a new Christian woman say, “I just get lost in our small group Bible study especially when people start throwing out Greek words and what they have learned in other studies. I just want to understand the words that are actually printed here. They lose me. I feel so ignorant like I can never understand the Bible.” My heart just hurt for her. From my experience, I know this precious new Christian, who is also new to the Bible, is not alone in how she feels in our typical Bible study groups. 

Several years ago, I asked the women in my Bible Study group what they remembered about their first time in a women’s Bible Study. The descriptions that came back were these: frightened, panicked, lost as a goose, isolated, and crying like a baby. Oh my! Yet, they did not give up. Some of them kept on because they had signed up for the course and did not want to quit. Others had someone tutor them through the study. One mentioned that only God strengthened her enough to keep trying. Even after a couple of years, one woman said she still gets lost in our regular women’s Bible study at church which assumes everyone knows the Bible stories.

My heart wants to make the experience of those new to the Bible so much better than that. Because I have been listening and watching over the past thirty years of active Bible Study leading, I have picked up some insights about helping those new to the Bible. I will share these with you in this article.

Assumptions Versus Reality

The assumptions

Are you a group leader? Do you assume that anyone new to the Bible will catch up just by being in your group and working through the study guide?

That is not a wise assumption. In our current culture, most women do not already have a fundamental understanding of the characters and historical details in the Bible. I am talking about adults who do not have years of church life where they were taught from the Bible (sermons, Sunday school classes). These are the ones who get lost in our Bible-oriented churches.

The reality

Many first-time attendees to church Bible studies are women new to the Bible. It is not likely they will just “catch up” by being part of a Bible Study group. We have women all around us who were not raised in a church setting. Or they attended a church that even discouraged personal Bible study. They are new to the Bible. They have no clue how to feed themselves from God’s Word.

New Believers Need the Milk of God’s Word

When those unchurched women trust in Christ, they are like the newborn babies in our own families—hungry for the milk of God’s Word. Starving for it. Peter talked about this yearning in his letter,

“And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation,” (1 Peter 2:2)

Picture bringing a newborn baby home and sitting her at the table saying, “Watch the rest of us eat. You will learn how to feed yourself and not be hungry anymore.” Do we do that? No!

We feed them regularly with nourishing milk and bathe them with parental love for months so they will be healthy physically and relationally. Parents do the feeding—milk first then gradually introducing solid food. After that, we start giving them finger foods they can handle. By the middle of their second year, they are usually feeding themselves from the table using a mouthful of teeth to do so.

Yet, we expect our new Christians (because they are in grown bodies) to feed themselves from God’s Word just by being “at the table” (in a regular small group or worship service). Yet, this lack of care and feeding of new Christians leads to discouragement and insecurity and a feeling of “I am not smart enough to understand the Bible.” Soon, they give up. I have seen this happen.

Being the Small Group Leader Who Assumed

This happens for Christians who are not new to Christ but are new to Bible Study. For one sweet woman, I was the guilty one who assumed. “Lynn” told us on her first day to our Bible study group that she had never been in a Bible study before this. She was a shy new Christian, having just started attending our church. I thought, “She’ll catch on as we go through the study each week.” I was wrong.

Lynn did not know how to read Bible verses and answer questions in a study designed for experienced Bible students. She might get the observation questions, just looking for information. But, after that, she would not answer anything. She felt so inadequate. Instead of coming alongside her, I waited a few weeks. Lynn stopped coming. When I asked why, she told me how hard it was to do the study do just dropped out.

As an experienced follower of Christ, I failed this new Christian. Since then, I have learned to come alongside someone new to the Bible and help them get a good start by doing simple studies together.

I have four recommendations for you to help those new to the Bible.

#1 Acknowledge Their Presence

Women who are unfamiliar with the Bible attend your church, your Bible study, and your women’s group. You may not know who they are. But they are there. You should want to provide a safe place for them to learn.

Are you a small group leader? 

Assume that some of the women in your small group do not know how to find a Bible verse, read it, and answer a question. I always ask on the first day of a new group if anyone is new to the Bible. This lets me know that I will need to come alongside her or have another woman in the group come alongside her for the first few weeks of the study. Explain churchy words the first time you use them (Gentiles, grace, salvation) and repeat until you think everyone has heard. If you are studying the gospels and talk about John, say which John it is—John the Baptist or John the disciple.

Are you a ministry director?

Do everything you can to communicate to women that you want to provide a safe place for those new to the Bible at your church. Then, offer them some of the resources I mention below.

Make it easy for those new to the Bible to learn and not give up!

#2 Sympathize with Their Insecurity

If a woman is not much of a book learner anyway, she is going to feel insecure right away and even defeated that she will never be able to learn the Bible on her own. Come alongside that woman who is new to the Bible and let her know you want to help her as much as you can. Show compassion to the woman who signs up to attend your Bible study and then feels absolutely overwhelmed because it is too hard for her. Help her.

Encourage those new to the Bible to start reading in the New Testament rather than beginning in the Old Testament. Newborn babies do not need to know all the family history before we establish our love relationship with them.

I usually recommend the gospel of Mark because it is short and easy to understand. I cannot think of a better start to understanding the Bible than reading the life of Jesus! 

Make it easy for those new to the Bible to learn and not give up!

#3 Provide the Best Tutoring

Twenty years ago, I was in a large Bible study with about 200 women. One of the women came up to the leaders and said, “My mom would like to come to Bible study. But, she does not know anything about the Bible. Do you think you could offer a beginners’ group?” DUH! Why had we never thought of this before?! The next fall we offered a small group for beginners as part of our large study. Fifteen women signed up for it! There was a genuine need we had not previously acknowledged.

Then, we asked two women to be the group leaders whose hearts wanted to help those who were new to the Bible—some were not even Christians yet. They gave the women tabs for their Bibles so they could easily find the books. Now, that would be showing them showing how to download and use a good Bible app.

Because we were all using the same study, the leaders selected specific questions for the women to work through in the group and a few to work through at home so the group members would not get overwhelmed by the whole study. They tutored them on how to read a question, look up a verse, and answer the question. Several of those new-to-the-Bible women grew like weeds in their faith and in their Bible study skills. In 3-4 years, they became leaders for their own Bible study small groups. It was fantastic!

Are you a small group leader?

Adapting an existing study is a lot of work. It helps to start with something designed especially for anyone who is new to the Bible. You want to look for basic lessons with simple questions and easy-to-understand terms and applications. You can do it with her one-on-one before she ever signs up for the large group study. This is so much less intimidating to someone just learning from the Bible. Do not let her try to chew steak with only a few baby teeth. Work through the weekly Bible study lesson with her. If it is too much, back down to something more basic for her to understand.

Or you can do what is even better—have a small group for beginners and use a study designed for those new to the Bible. Check the resources at the end of this blog for good studies designed for those new to the Bible.

Are you a ministry director?

  • Offer a small group for beginners alongside your typical Bible Studies.
  • Keep a supply of beginners’ Bible studies on hand to help your new women get a great start in studying the Bible.

Make it easy for those new to the Bible to learn and not give up!

#4. Make Knowing Jesus the Priority

For new Christians, always start with Jesus because Christianity is Christ! What they need first and foremost is to get to know Him well and be secure in their relationship with Him. See the resources available below.

If you want to read a book of the Bible, work through the gospel of Mark with her. Show her how to read the passage and let the Holy Spirit show her something from it. I usually ask the question, “What jumped out at you?” That is the milk for the day God wants to feed her.

Graceful Beginnings

Our Graceful Beginnings Bible Studies are designed to be user-friendly to anyone new to the Bible. We want a woman to be able to pick up these Bible studies and gain confidence in learning something of God’s Word as she works through it. We hope she will be ready to pick up another study and keep going—getting to know both God and His Word better with each one.

For you who have influence over other women in your church, women’s ministry, or any kind of small group: Change the way you feed your new Christians or those new to the Bible. Nurture them well.

Make it easy for those new to the Bible to learn and not give up!

Read or listen to “Establish: Nurture Women Who Are New to the Bible.”

Related Resources:

Lifestyle Disciplemaking Resources

A Fresh Start Bible Study for New Christians

Painting the Portrait of Jesus (the I Am’s of Jesus in John)

Satisfied by His Love (women Jesus knew)

Melanie Newton is the founder of Joyful Walk Ministries, an online ministry that helps women learn to study the Bible for themselves and grow their Bible-teaching skills to lead others on a joyful walk with Jesus. Melanie has written many Bible study guides (available on and her website) and presented insightful messages to large groups of women. All of her BIble Studies are available as books on Melanie is wife to Ron Newton (“Integrity at Work” ministry), loves to be outside in her garden, and enjoys her yearly fix of boiled crawfish.

Leave a Reply