Leading a Small Group Bible Study

May 26th, 2011
Image © by Tilton Lane | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

 People often ­­­­­view the Bible as a maze of obscure people, places, and events from centuries ago and struggle to relate it to their daily lives. What you do as a small group leader can help people actually enjoy studying the Bible.

Effective small group leaders prepare ahead. The key task is to guide discussion and activities that will engage heart and head and will invite faith development. Discussion questions are essential; you may want to add questions posed by you or your group.

Here are suggestions for helping your small group engage Scripture:

  • State questions clearly and simply.
  • Ask questions that move Bible truths from “outside” (dealing with concepts, ideas, or information about a passage) to “inside” (relating to the experiences, hopes, and dreams of the participants).
  • Work for variety in your questions, including compare and contrast, information recall, motivation, connections, speculation, and evaluation.
  • Avoid questions that call for yes-or-no responses or answers that are obvious.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence during a discussion. It often yields especially thoughtful comments. By planning time for silence, you also allow more introverted persons time to formulate their responses.
  • Test questions before using them by attempting to answer them yourself.
  • When leading a discussion, pay attention to the mood of your group by “listening” with your eyes as well as your ears.

A small group Bible study offers an ideal setting in which to promote full engagement with the Bible for the purpose of growing faith and building up Christian community. Encourage participants to bring their Bibles, but always have a few extras for new people. Plan time for participants to read from the Scriptures during your time together.

Invite small group members to consider the following guidelines as they participate in the group:

  • Respect differences of interpretation and understanding.
  • Support one another with Christian kindness, compassion, and courtesy.
  • Listen to others with the goal of understanding rather than agreeing or disagreeing.
  • Celebrate the opportunity to grow in faith through Bible study.
  • Approach the Bible as a dialogue partner, open to the possibility of being challenged or changed by God’s Word.
  • Recognize that each person brings unique and valuable life experiences to the group and is an important part of the community.
  • Reflect theologically––that is, be attentive to three basic questions: What does this say about God? What does this say about me/us? What does this say about the relationship between God and me/us?
  • Commit to a lived faith response in light of insights you gain from the Bible. In other words, what changes in attitudes (how you believe) or actions (how you behave) are called for by God's Word?

And as a small group leader you want to make sure your space is set up and you always have an extra, comfy, empty chair for that new person.



This article was adapted from the Leader's Guide from the Immersion Bible Studies series.

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