Guidelines for Bible Study Groups
The Ministries of our Church
Many congregations and women's ministries groups enjoy studying the Bible together in small groups. These times of worship of God and fellowship with one another may have significant impact on spiritual health of those in the group and the health of the church. It may also be a place where lives are shared with one another and learning to love one another as commanded by Jesus.
As with any group activity problems may arise. Rather than learning to be disciples, a Bible study group may deteriorate into something less than the Christian ideal. Rather than commitment, there can be conflict. Instead of caring for one another, transparency and sharing become sources of destructive gossip. Reliance on the authority and grace of Jesus may deteriorate into arrogant leadership. The following guidelines are designed to help groups avoid those pitfalls and help people continue in love for one another with a sense of joy and expectation.
1. Choose a specific time to meet. Start and end on time. Members who cannot attend a given meeting should observe the courtesy of calling to let the rest of the group know. A lack of involvement makes an ineffective Bible study group.
2. Groups should be small. five or six is a good number. New members should not be added without the mutual consent of others in the group.
3. A Bible study group should stand for
a. Commitment to God and to one another.
b. Transparency before one another.
c. Reliance on the Bible and the Spirit of God.
d. Discipleship that transcends the group itself.
4. Gather as equals before God. Expect God to guide and teach through one another.
5. Choose together the "curriculum" that will be followed-a certain book of the Bible, study guides, books or other aids. Some have found that using several translations is helpful. Remember that the purpose of study is not just for information, but relationship with God.
6. Devote about half the meeting to Bible study and reserve the rest of the time for fellowship.
7. Begin by telling your "story" to one another. This is not a therapy session but a time to get to know one another and not only help bear the burdens of each other but to rejoice in times of joy or contentment.
8. Allow adequate time for prayer. It is good to begin and end with prayer, perhaps in the middle of the time together when members talk about issues that are important to them.
9. Do not let one person dominate the time-either in prayer or Bible study or in fellowship time.
10. Schedule "connecting time" that helps the members be present in the lives of one another. Sometimes a member may have a lot to share while not much at other times.
11. Allow adequate time for fellowship. Having simple snacks or beverages can be an aid to fellowship time.
12. Make friends with fellow group members and risk being vulnerable, but also treat all information confidentially. A lack of sensitivity toward one another will be destructive to the group and to the individuals in it.
13. Schedule some time to do something together socially-a day at the beach or mountains, a dinner that includes the rest of the family members-husband, children, etc.
14. Plan some outreach things together. Take a short "mission trip" that might include going to Mexico or the inner city where you are doing something for someone in need.
15. Encourage the spiritual gifts of one another. Try to help in the discovery of those gifts and how to use them for the work of God.
Let your group become a means of rediscovering the church as the Body of Christ through study of the Scriptures. In the common walks of life Jesus will be rediscovered.