This handbook is the latest version of our training manual for the small group Bible study leadership at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. It has been developed over time under the leadership of three ministers: Vickie Kraft, Dianne Miller, and Kay Daigle.
The principles in this handbook have been proven over time to work well. We recommend that you follow them with your women’s Bible study small groups.
Each semester before we begin our studies, we have a training class. There, we go through the material generally, highlighting specific areas; we ask the leaders to read the entire booklet later. We communicate the vision of what we are trying to do together as we study God’s Word. The leaders take their booklets home and the handbook becomes a resource for them to use when they encounter problems and have questions.
If you want to use it in your church, just insert your own women’s ministry mission statement, etc. in place of ours. Make it personal to your situation and your needs.
I am delighted that you have agreed to become a small group leader for our women’s Bible study. Your role is vital in the spiritual growth and encouragement of those in your group.
The women in our studies come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. We are praying with you that those who have not placed their faith in Christ will come to know Him, that those who know Him will grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, and that all of you will support and encourage one another in the Lord.
When God calls us to ministry, He gives us the power to accomplish the work that He gives us to do. It is not by our intelligence or our skills that we serve but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you need my help in any way, please contact me. I am here to serve you in any way that I can.
May the Lord richly bless your ministry with these precious women.
With His Love,
Minister to Women
Northwest Bible Church Women’s Ministry exists to connect women of the church and the community
so that we grow together in the faith, knowledge, and love of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the Women's Ministry Bible study is to grow in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through daily study and application of the Scriptures, prayer, and building relationships through intergenerational small groups.
The role of the small group leader is one of serving and encouraging women in the group to know Jesus Christ and make Him known. She looks out for the interests of others because she is a servant leader who cares for each one individually. A small group leader is not dominant but encourages and strives for participation from all members. The goal is to enable them to deepen their faith and commitment to passionately pursue Jesus Christ. She is there to help them walk with Christ and grow in their personal study of God’s Word. If she seeks to be an instructor, the women will be forever dependent on her. To see them become independently dependent upon their Lord is the objective!
As you sense God is leading you to step out in a leadership role, know that you can trust Him to equip and enable you to accomplish the task. HE IS ABLE!
A good leader trusts in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and trusts God to accomplish the work that He has called her to do.
A good leader knows that her strength and guidance comes through the Holy Spirit and through prayer as she seeks God in daily prayer.
A good leader reaches out in love to the women God has called her to oversee.
A good leader is not afraid to be transparent and allow her life to be an example to others.
A good leader can be trusted to keep confidential information private, not given to gossip but to prayer.
A good leader serves God first and foremost and is intent upon pleasing Him above all others.
A good leader listens to others with sincere interest in what the other person is trying to communicate. She answers thoughtfully, giving advice only when prompted by God.
Reports to the Small Group Leaders’ Coach or Summer Coordinator
Primary Function: To shepherd the women in the group by leading them through the weekly lesson, praying for them, and supporting them according to their individual needs
Length of commitment: Fall-spring or summer only
1. She shall thoroughly prepare her own lesson and work through the leader helps as she prepares to lead the discussion each week.
2. She shall attend the weekly leader meetings.
3. She shall pray consistently for the women in her group and the Bible study leadership.
4. She shall attend the leadership training that precedes each semester’s study.
5. She shall regularly contact the women in her group and encourage them individually.
6. She shall encourage the group to love one another in specific and tangible ways, seeing the small group as a supportive community for its members.
7. She shall recruit a prayer leader to send out prayer requests by e-mail and a missions leader (only fall/spring) in her group and follow-up to be sure they are doing their jobs.
8. She shall work with the daytime/evening/summer coordinator to organize her group for snacks or meals, etc. according to the schedule she is given.
9. She shall make announcements, etc. as requested.
10. She shall see herself as a shepherd of her group and care for the flock as needed.
Encourage members to look to the Bible rather than to you for answers. Point them to the Lord as the Wonderful Counselor.
Stress the importance of trust among the members of your group. Women need to feel confident that what they share won’t leave the group.
Your goal is that lives are changed. In order to do that, you must balance needs and Scripture. You do want to cover the lesson, focusing on how the Bible relates to their lives; however, when a group member expresses a deep need, be willing to stop and listen. Don’t leave a woman hanging when she has just shared from her heart. Be sensitive! You may need to take a few moments to pray for her. Do it yourself, and pray kingdom prayers!
The following are guidelines for praying over your members’ prayer requests:
I’m glad that you brought that up. We need to think about this question a bit more.
Thank you for your answer. Your answer really helps us think through this. Let’s look at that verse again.
Obviously we aren’t all in agreement on this one; any other insights?
Isn’t it helpful for us to think through this together? Let’s look at the Scriptures to see what help they give us.
If a person is speaking at length, intervene by saying, “Let’s share briefly so all may have a chance to speak,” or, “I so appreciate your willingness to share that, but we need to continue with our lesson or we won’t finish.”
When asking a question, ask for someone who hasn’t answered to volunteer, not by name but generally. “I’d like to hear from some of you who haven’t said much today.”
Do not allow her to become the center of attention in your group. Someone with deep emotional problems must be referred to the Minister to Women. Love is our goal, but you need to love such a woman without taking away from the group. The group is not a therapy session or a support group. Perhaps she needs some help in finding a place like that. If she is going through a difficult time and needs a woman to just pray with her as she walks through it, suggest the Stephen Ministry here at NBC. If this is an ongoing situation, she may profit from Celebrate Recovery or other similar programs.
Sometimes people would rather discuss doctrinal differences than give attention to what really needs to happen in their own lives. Some debate in a group is productive, but the Scriptures should always be the final source of authority. If debate becomes counter productive, suggest that you and the participants discuss the matter later and redirect the discussion.
If someone is still on the journey to faith in Jesus, follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership. He may lead you to have coffee or lunch with her and just talk about your own journey, sharing the gospel through your own story. Encourage her with the fact that faith is a journey that each one takes at different times. Be sensitive to the truth that God must be at work and is capable of moving in her heart to draw her to Him.
Help focus your prayers and those of the women in your group to the bigger issues of the kingdom, knowing the coming of the kingdom is the will of God for the women in your group and their families--Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Study the prayers of the New Testament and see how they involved kingdom issues: character-building in those who suffered, the glory of God in the midst of persecution, and the knowledge of Jesus in the world.
Mt. 6:33-34: Pray for ____ to seek first God’s kingdom in her life. (If there are monetary or physical needs involved, this is a condition necessary for God’s promise to supply to kick in.)
Jas. 1:2-4, 12: Pray for God to use this difficulty to produce endurance, completion, and blessing.
Jas. 1:17-18; 4:3: Pray for ___ to trust that God gives good gifts, realizing that His gifts are better than those she wants.
Eph. 1:17-21: Pray for God to give _____ wisdom and the revelation of Him in the midst of this time.
Eph. 4:1-3: Pray for _____ to walk worthy and to show forth these qualities to others with whom she is having difficulty.
Col. 1:9-12: Pray for God to fill _____ with the knowledge of His will that she may walk worthy.
Col. 3:1-4: Pray that God will give _____ the grace to set her mind on the things above rather than the circumstances.
Rom. 8:28-29: Pray that _____ will trust that God is at work in the midst of these difficulties for her good, not for her destruction. Pray that God will use this time to mold her more into the image of Jesus.