Small groups or Cell groups are essential part of a Christian church or community. Today, almost every church has its small groups. However, it is not at all a newly found concept. Jesus himself had his small group of 12 people And although he had much larger community of followers, he invested majority of his time and efforts in the lives of these few people.
Leading small groups can be one of the most exciting and satisfying experience of your christian life. You can really influence and impact your group members. Today, we are going to discuss principles to effectively leading small group bible study. You may be leading students, married couples, men, women, teenagers, youth, or any age group, these principles remain the same. So here are some of the key principles for leading a bible study small group.
1. Know Your bible study Group:
- Know every member of your small group. Show genuine interest and care for them.
- Names are extremely important. There is nothing more pleasing to ears than our name. You must know every member of your group by name.
- If there is a new member or visitor, make sure that you acknowledge him and introduce to the group.
- If you have more than 2-3 visitors, you can take some time for the introduction with some fun questions or game. (Like, what is the weirdest food, you have ever had?…)
- Preparation is the most important part of leading bible study group.
- There is nothing more painful than to see under prepared bible study leader. I am amazed to see that people spend so much time on assignments or job at school or workplace, yet when it comes to leading a group, they are so under-prepared!
- Prepare well, spend lot of time in the Word of God.
- Don’t think that since it is a discussion, you don’t have to work as hard as ‘Preaching’!
- Write down your thoughts, ideas, notes, questions, answers… I don’t know about you, but I can not remember everything. Writing notes will also be helpful in future bible studies.
- Note down the questions. Don’t just ask, “What do you think about this verse?” Form a question from that verse. Rephrase the question.
- If you use study guides for preparation, use it as a guide only! You don’t have to exactly follow them. (After all, they are just a guidelines!)
- You can use bible dictionary, commentary, but use your own insight also. (Make your own commentary!)
3. Be Creative and Imaginative:
- Be creative in your discussions and questions.
- Visualize the situation.
- Use maps, whiteboards, games, time lines.
- Give some small assignment, quiz or fun group activity to the group, keep the engaged.
4. Facilitator and Not a Preacher:
- Remember that you are not a preacher, you are facilitator of the discussion group. Make sure that you don’t keep talking.
- Communicate your questions well, rephrase it if possible.
- Don’t let it be silent for long time, give hints, ask individuals.
5. Equal Opportunity:
- Make sure that every one participates in the discussion.
- You will always find few people, more responsive than others.
- But, don’t let it be discussion between just 2-3 persons. Ask individual, remembering names will be useful here.
- You will often be surprised to hear insight from people who generally remain quiet.
- Remember that silence does not always mean non-participation.
- Many times, you will find the discussion being side tracked or distracted in particular topic.
- Use your judgment, to continue or bring the group back to the main idea or passage.
- If there is some major important issue, let the discussion continue. The idea is to learn here and not stick to the passage.
7. Time Management:
- 25-30 minutes of bible study time is perfect. Don’t make it too long.
- Don’t let the group loose focus.
- If there is some important theological discussion going on, you can conclude bible study, but continue the discussion, so that those who need to leave can go.
- Don’t try to finish the passage because you run out of time. You can continue next week. (So many times, I have seen leader’s finishing the passage or topic suddenly, so that they don’t have to lead next week.) Again, good preparation will be helpful here.
8. Finish Strong:
- Spend enough time in the application of the word.
- Challenge your group for the not only ‘learner of the word but the doer of the word’.
- Don’t make it too emotional. After all, the things that will stay with the group is not the emotion, but the teaching.
- Encourage them for personal bible study.
Check out an excellent resource by Grahame Knox for Bible Study for Youth Leaders – Free Ebook. It provides an excellent resource for different techniques and ideas for effectively leading bible study groups.
Check out our eBook, The Miracles of Jesus Christ – 7-part Bible Study Series on the Healing Miracles of Jesus Christ for Small Groups & Personal Study.