Keys to a Thriving Women's Bible Study Group

February 1st, 2017

Whether you’re looking to start a women’s Bible study group or rejuvenate one that’s dwindling, there are some basic keys that can help any group leader develop a vibrant, life-changing discipleship experience for women of all ages.

  1. Manage group dynamics well. While every group has a unique vibe, I have found these general concepts very helpful in facilitating discussion:

    • Ask questions. One of Jesus’s most effective teaching methods was asking questions. As leaders, we must refrain from doing all the talking and be intentional askers and listeners. Women learn from each other’s insights and experiences; we rob others of their comments when we monopolize as leaders.
    • Be prepared for Talking Tammy. When Talking Tammy monopolizes discussion, try a transitional statement such as, “Thanks, Tammy. Let’s see if someone else has some insight as well.” Or, “Is there anyone who hasn’t talked much today who would be willing to answer this question?” Or “I hear you saying that you could relate to this biblical character’s struggle since you had a similar experience. Anyone else find that passage resonating with you as well?”
    • Encourage Silent Suzy to share without calling her out. Let her get comfortable with the group before asking her a pointed question, and watch for an opportunity to talk about something she has shared with a follow-up question that doesn’t pry.
  2. Keep prayer time fresh. It’s so important to take the time to hear what’s going on in each other’s lives and to pray for each other. Having an intentional, thoughtful approach to this important time in your study will add great value to your time together. Here are some creative ideas to try:

    • As women enter the room, direct them to take an index card and write their prayer request on it. Then during prayer time, each woman can read her request aloud, already having thought through it, and pass it to the woman on the right for her to keep in her Bible as a reminder to pray for the request until they meet again.
    • Ask someone to record all the prayer requests and e-mail them to the group each week.
    • If you have a small group, use a one- or two-minute sand timer when you are short on time. (Look in your game closet for one of these.) Lightheartedly tell each woman that she has one or two minutes to share her request so that each woman can have a turn. (You might want to flip it over again if tears accompany the request.)
    • If you have more than ten women, divide into two or three groups for prayer time. Assign a leader who will facilitate, keep the group on track, and follow up.
    • Have women pick one or two partners and split into small groups of two or three to share prayer requests and pray for each other.
    • Have an open time of popcorn prayer. This means let women spontaneously pray one-sentence prayers as they feel led.
    • After everyone shares requests, ask each women to pray for the woman on her right. Clearly say that if anyone is uncomfortable praying out loud, she can pray silently and then squeeze the hand of the woman next to her.
    • Another option is to close the group in prayer yourself or ask a few women you know are comfortable praying in front of others to pray for the requests mentioned. Remember that many women feel awkward praying in front of others. Provide encouragement by reminding the group that prayer is talking to God and that there’s no right or wrong way to have a conversation with our creator. But always be sensitive to others and affirm that they will not be looked down on if they don’t like to pray out loud.

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and author. She enjoys teaching God’s word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of three Abingdon Women’s Bible studies—Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World; Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness; and First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree—as well as one parenting book, Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home.

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