Perhaps you’ve never led a Bible study because you didn’t know how to get started. Be encouraged; it’s not rocket science. If you meet with at least one other person, read the Bible, and discuss the text, you’re off to a great start. God can use you, even if you have no idea what you’re doing!
As you go, you may find a few more tips helpful to increase your effectiveness.
1. Know the group’s purpose
Are you reaching out to new people or building relationships with existing friends? Will you focus on what the Bible says (communicating the gospel), or on how to study it (training others in OIA skills)? Will you target a certain audience (men, women, teens, couples, retirees, etc.)?
2. Clarify your expectations
Do you expect people to prepare for the meeting, or is it okay if they simply show up? Do you want them to commit to attending, or will you keep commitment low?
3. Communicate your expectations
As you recruit people to the study, you should communicate your expectations to them. You don’t want people to show up expecting a movie night, shocked when you pull out a Bible and begin asking questions. Depending on your expectations, you may communicate along these lines:
- “A few of us will get together to discuss the Bible. We’ll just read a passage and discuss it. You don’t have to talk. You don’t even have to agree with what the passage says. You just have to be honest about what it says.”
- “I’m starting a Bible study for people who want to get deeper into the Word. We’ll meet every other week for 6 months, and we’d like to have some consistency from meeting to meeting. We’ll all read the passage at least once before we come so we can dive right in to the discussion. Would you be interested in joining us?”
- “Our group will focus on learning how to study the Bible. We expect people to treat it like a class, with homework before each meeting.”
4. Give it a clear start and end time
You can include these details as part of your expectations. People often want to know what time the meeting will begin and end so they know how to plan. It can be tempting to say, “what time works for you?” but I don’t recommend it unless you’re meeting with a key person one-on-one and you just need to work out your schedules. It’s usually better to give a specific time, and—if nobody can make that time—change the time as needed. This gives people clear direction.
In addition to starting and ending times for each meeting, it can be helpful to have starting and ending dates for the group. People might be less motivated to attend if the commitment feels endless. And with a determined end date, you’ll be able to end the group and re-evaluate the group’s direction. You could always have a 6-week or 6-month study, followed by another 6-week or 6-month study, followed by another.
People often need multiple invitations before they will come. As you recruit, you can build your relationships with people and embody Christ’s love to them. Let them know how much you care and how much you want them to attend. Let them know of the group’s vision and how the group will help them (to figure life out, to draw closer to Christ, to learn how to study the Bible, etc.). Jesus didn’t simply announce openings for disciple positions, hand out a flyer, and wait to see who would show up. He passed alongside the Sea and recruited those whom he wanted (Mark 1:16-20). Paul followed the same approach (Acts 13, 14, 16, 17, etc.).
Think about your first Bible study or church experience. Did you just show up on your own, or did others recruit you?