How to Use this Study Guide
Understanding open questions
Open questions require thinking and listening to God so that you wrestle with what you read in his Word. Rather than many questions, we ask only a few open questions that direct your attention to important themes and truths for your written responses on paper, perhaps in a journal. Let God speak from his Word, not only to learn about who he is and how he acts, but also in a personal way that applies to your own life and walk with him.
The simplicity of this study doesn’t equate to shallow
This study demands your involvement. Although the layout is simple, how deeply you go depends on you. As you spend time talking to God and recording your thoughts on the questions, he may lead you to other cross-references, but he will certainly give you insights into the verses. Don’t stop with initial surface answers, but ask God to clarify and guide. The time you spend in the scriptures with God gives him space to speak. Listen well, record your thoughts, share them with your small group, and glean from others’ insights.
Studying through three parts a week
If you like doing a little study at a time, each week’s lesson is set up in three parts, but feel free to go through it in any way that works best for you. If you prefer daily time in the Word, consider spending two days on each part, journaling about the optional starred section the second day. You may be amazed at what you see by reading the same passage twice. If you prefer to do the week’s study in one sitting, you may want to read all the passages first and then journal at the end. Of course, it’s great to be in God’s Word each day, but you may have other ways of doing that. Stick to what works for your schedule.
Additional reading and background information
Background information pertinent to your understanding is provided. Feel free to do your own research when you have interest or questions, but the group conversation will be focused on the passages studied by everyone.
*** A star identifies optional verses or suggested study for those with time and interest. The additional reading will help you wrestle with deeper insights into the passages.
Light for Living
The verses that begin each week’s lesson are great choices for memorization and/or discussion.
What you need
- A quiet place, if possible.
- A Bible that you can understand. If you don’t have one, ask your group leader for suggestions, or email us at [email protected]. Modern versions are available as downloads, through Bible apps, or in print at any bookstore. (We are using the NET Bible at lumina.bible.org, a free online Bible translation with study helps.)
- A notebook, loose paper, laptop, or tablet to record your thoughts and also carry them to your group meetings. (See Journaling 101 on p. 63 in the Appendix.)
- The commitment to listen to God and write out what you hear as you read, study and pray.
- Someone, or even better a group, to discuss this with you and provide support, encouragement and spiritual challenge
Best practices for group get-togethers (See also Appendix & leader videos)
Plan a regular place, time, and leader.
The leader should—
- read the section “Tips for Leaders” in the Appendix p.67.
- watch Beyond Ordinary Women’s (BOW’s) free, short videos or listen to the podcast versions: “Tips for Leading a Journaling Study” (https://vimeo.com/190999125) and the series “Listening Well” (https://vimeo.com/album/4065298). If your group includes Millennials, watch the series “Millennials: The Good, the Bad, and the Ministry” at https://vimeo.com/showcase/6829309.
- start on time, not waiting for late arrivals.
- move the group along, being sensitive to God’s Spirit.
- encourage everyone to share without forcing it.
- be a great encourager.
- avoid dominating the conversation.
- keep the focus on the women, not herself and her own thoughts.
- provide time for the group to think and share from their journals.
- contact absent group members to encourage them.
- email the group weekly to remind them of the upcoming meeting, and share her excitement.
As a group—
- come prepared and on time with your study, journal, and Bible.
- share freely and honestly.
- encourage one another.
- don’t interrupt the speaker.
- love one another.
- rather than giving advice for the problems that other members of your group express, pray for one another and entrust each other and your problems to God.
- be honest and vulnerable, but wise in how much detail you share personally.
- stay in touch with each other between meetings for support and encouragement.
If your group meets within a larger group in a church setting
- Look for a woman gifted in teaching God’s Word to teach a short time after the small group discussion. Watch the short, free video “Why Use Live Teachers, not Video?” at https://vimeo.com/209323216. (For help in preparing to teach, see our collection of videos at https://beyondordinarywomen.org/bible-teaching/ or contact us at https://beyondordinarywomen.org/contact-alternative/.)
- Because the discussion isn’t about the teacher’s comments but focuses on the members’ personal study, the discussion should precede the teaching time. Based on educational research, this matters.
- The teacher may spend 15-25 minutes adding to the background of the lesson, beginning and ending within the allotted time frame. The majority of the time together should be invested in small groups.
- The teacher’s role is to clarify and extend what the group has studied, not retell what has been discussed.
Each week’s study includes a true story at the end that relates to the lesson. The names have been changed in some cases to protect people involved.