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2. How to Lead a Bible Study Lesson

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You’ve got a group ready to do a Bible Study together. You have chosen your Bible Study guide. You’ve prepared the books to give to everyone or sent them the link to purchase their own. You’ve scheduled a start date. Everyone has their books, and they are working on Lesson One at home. Then you think, “How do I lead the discussion when we get together?”

Great question. Like everything else in the Christian life, you do it by faith. That includes preparing by instruction, then learning by experience.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Work through the lesson for yourself first

Be a learner before being a teacher. Ask Jesus to teach you from His Word. You can enhance the group discussion with whatever the Lord shows you. Use good study aids to increase understanding, such as the wonderful resources found here on Using Lumina, you can access additional study notes that might explain something you don’t understand.

Review the lesson to plan how you will lead it

Go back over the lesson to develop a plan for leading the discussion. Ask Jesus to show you what you should emphasize. Here are some guidelines:

1. Look at how the lesson is arranged.

Is it divided up into sections? Do you recognize the observation questions (asking them to see what is in the text)? Which questions are the application questions?

2. Consider how long your group gets to meet.

If you have a couple of hours, you can usually cover the whole lesson with time for creative discussion of the application questions. If you have only an hour or less, choose which questions you want to discuss as a group. Long lessons could be divided and covered at two group meetings.

3. Mark your lesson with these things in mind:

  • Mark the Bible passages you will read in the group. Always read the main Bible passages that are the focus of the lesson, whether you are meeting for 2 hours or just 45 minutes. Don’t assume the women have read the verses already. Otherwise, you are spending your group time on woman’s word rather than God’s revealed Word and your response to it.
  • Mark the questions you will definitely cover. Don’t just pick the application questions, though. You want to make sure the women are understanding the truth revealed in the Bible before they try to apply it in their lives.
  • Mark the questions that could be combined together into one general discussion.
  • Mark the questions that could be skipped without affecting the discussion.
  • Mark anything that might be confusing or lead to extra discussion not related to the lesson (rabbit trails). Write yourself a “Watch out for this” note in the margin of the study.
  • Decide how you will cover the application questions: as a large group, in smaller groups of 2-4, or skipped because too personal.
  • Include good follow-up questions you gained from your own study.

4. Make a simple plan

Ask Jesus to help you write a simple plan for covering the questions. He will guide you through the Holy Spirit living inside you. It’s okay to say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. I will trust you to do this through me.” Then, watch what He does!

If you have a tendency to forget details, include them in your written plan. Your plan should include:

  • The time you will start the organized discussion. Group members like to know what to expect for a start time.
  • A reminder to pray before the lesson begins, asking the Lord to speak to you through His Word and declaring that you as His servants are listening.
  • The question numbers and whether you will cover, combine or skip them.
  • The Bible verses you will read during the discussion. Always read the main Bible passages even if you have to skip some of the questions to have time for this.
  • What you will do for the application questions—large group, small group, or skip
  • Extra research questions—mark whether you will include these in the discussion time or skip them.
  • Any follow-up question(s) from your own study.
  • Write the time you will finish the lesson and end with prayer, asking Jesus to apply what you’ve learned in your lesson.
  • When you only have an hour or less: Encourage the women to get their lessons done ahead of time. If this is difficult, you could divide each lesson into two parts and cover at two group meetings.

Follow the plan to lead the lesson

As you open yourself to the Holy Spirit’s leading, what you learn in your own personal study time will be valuable to your group as you lead them through the discussion. God will show you what the overall focus of your group discussion time should be, especially as you get to know the women better. Here are some things to remember:

  • Start at the time you said you would start with something: icebreaker, what jumped out at them in the lesson, or the first question.
  • Guide your small group into the living, transforming Word of God by opening and reading the Bible together in your small group.
  • Encourage everyone to discover God’s Word on their own during the week, taking time to complete the lesson, and to share with each other what they have learned.
  • Work through the questions by reading the question and waiting for the group to respond. Avoid calling on women directly unless you know them well.
  • For those questions requiring just one answer, move on after someone gives the answer.
  • Ask, “Anyone else?” for those questions requiring several answers until the ones you think are important have been shared.
  • Be ready if a question causes someone to get emotional. Put an arm around her, affirm her hurt, and pray for her. Then say, “Let’s see how we can learn to trust God even in the midst of our hurt.” Move on.
  • Communicate acceptance in your eyes, manner, and your response to what a group member shares.
  • Affirm a woman after she shares, especially if she is normally quiet. Say, “Thank you for sharing that.”
  • Clarify the truth should the comment need further explanation. Correct error gently if it is important to the discussion, especially if what was said is not in the text. Always point them back to what the Scripture actually says.
  • Limit your own talking except to lead the discussion and to direct the discussion once it begins. Share your answers only when necessary or if something totally amazed you.
  • Avoid getting bogged down on any one issue. Pay attention to any notes you made about possible rabbit trails. Stay focused on what you decide is best for the group. Keep the discussion moving along.
  • Approach this role with humility and grace. Let them know that you are learning right alongside them. Be excited about what they see in the Scriptures as they study. Be amazed and humbled to hear someone else discover something in the passage that you missed.

Are you still nervous about leading? Give your insecurities to Jesus. He is the one who makes you able to do everything in the Christian life, and that includes leading a Bible study. You are simply to obey Him and trust His Spirit to work through you. Being scared is a good thing; you will rely on Him more. It is okay to say, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own, but you can in me and through me. I will trust you with this.”

Step out in faith and enjoy the blessings of discovering God’s Word together with a group of women. Watch each one experience a joyful walk with Jesus.

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Related Topics: Discipleship, Teaching the Bible

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