Do you feel called to lead a women’s Bible study? Are you unsure of how to get started?
You don’t have to have years of ministry leadership under your belt to serve the women in your community through a Bible study. But to foster a meaningful experience for participants, there are a few things you can do! Let’s review three tips for developing a meaningful women’s Bible study group that will leave a lasting impact.
Encourage Group Participation
Your group is most likely composed of women with different personalities, and backgrounds with a varied understanding of the Bible. This means you’ll need to account for that while studying the Bible and facilitating conversation. That said, be prepared to facilitate conversations between:
- Talkative attendees: There’s nothing wrong with the group member that has an answer for every question. In fact, you can usually depend on them to kickstart a conversation and break awkward silences. Just make sure your more talkative members don’t overpower the attendees who haven’t had a chance to speak up yet!
- Silent spectators: Some women enjoy listening to the discussion, and that’s great! Just be sure to give everyone a chance to share their thoughts so that no one misses out on an opportunity. Gently encourage your quieter attendees to speak up without making them feel called out or forced. Or, facilitate one-on-one meetings to give them a chance to share their perspective with a smaller audience.
- Tangential participants: You might discuss a wide variety of topics in your group, but structure is also important to keep the focus on the study’s purpose. Be careful not to limit conversation, but steer the discussion toward the topic at hand.
As the group leader, your role is to ask questions and let the group do the talking. Don’t be afraid to allow for awkward silences, especially at the beginning, so other women can speak up if they feel inclined. This balance of facilitating without interfering will create a valuable experience that allows women to participate according to their level of comfort. As a result, group members will be more likely to continue coming (and be excited about coming)!
Another way to enhance the group experience at your Bible study is to make it accessible to everyone. Don’t invite only women from your church, but encourage them to bring their friends and open the group to women at other churches. That way, the group will have enough variety to discuss new topics and perspectives that otherwise would have gone unaddressed.
You may have found the best Bible studies for women to guide your conversation topics and discussion questions, but your group should also encourage each other through prayer. There are several creative ways to facilitate prayer during your Bible study group meeting:
- Cover-a-neighbor: Start or end your Bible study session by sitting in a circle and praying for the woman directly next to you. Once you’re finished praying, she’ll pray for the person directly next to her, and the cycle will continue until every group member has been prayed over.
- Popcorn prayer: Start off the prayer session by praying over the group, then ask women to spontaneously join in one after the other by praying for the group or specific group members. This can especially engage the women in your Bible study because it allows them to lead in prayer from the calling they feel to pray rather than the obligation of going around the room.
- Index card requests: Have each woman write a prayer request on an index card at the beginning of the session. Then, lead the group in prayer and cover each prayer request. That way, everyone is prayed over without feeling on the spot about coming up with a prayer request in front of everyone. You can also have the women take a random index request home to pray over a different member following each meeting.
To make the women in your Bible study group feel even more connected, pray for them throughout the week. Include everyone in a group text message where everyone can send prayer requests, even on days the group isn’t meeting. As the group leader, you should let everyone know that you’re praying for them, but the rest of the group can also pray for each other, helping every group member feel supported.
This group text message can also be used to facilitate conversations about group meetings, such as requests for snacks or location changes. Be sure to add everyone to the group, even if some members join late or attend sporadically. By ensuring all your group members feel included, you’ll cultivate a meaningful community of women who can depend on each other long after the Bible study’s conclusion.
Cultivate Strong Relationships
Interpersonal relationships between group members shouldn’t stop at group texts about weekly snacks. For example, you might have each Bible study member send their birthday in the chat, so you can send them a handwritten or online greeting card on their special day.
Leave room in your meetings for mingling so that group members can get to know each other and visit with each other. You can even start conversations as a group about topics outside of the study material, such as:
- Ice-breaker questions: These fun, random questions won’t necessarily help everyone get to know each other on a serious level, but might result in some good laughs and inside jokes! Ask the group one silly question each meeting, such as, “What is the best knock-knock joke you know?”
- Holiday plans: Getting to know the women in your group might involve learning about their upcoming plans, favorite traditions, and family dynamics, especially around the holidays. For example, you might learn that Susan decorates for Christmas in October, and Paige is excited to see her brother for Thanksgiving. You can also celebrate holidays as a group with small parties such as a Mother’s Day celebration or Easter party.
- Personal life updates: The women in your Bible study could range from busy professionals to overwhelmed college students to exhausted stay-at-home moms. Understanding what goes on in their daily lives not only helps group members feel noticed but also equips the group to be a better support system for each other.
A thriving community is a vital part of a meaningful Bible study experience. For more of a focus on building relationships, Esther Press’s list of Christian books for women recommends reading materials that specifically cover relationships with other people. Consider incorporating these topics into your Bible study both conversationally and through the topic of discussion.
No two women’s Bible study groups are the same. Your group will have unique participants who drive conversation topics from their one-of-a-kind perspectives. Recognize that there is no formula to Bible study group success and take into consideration the unique needs of the women you lead. A questionnaire or group discussion at the first meeting might help guide your ideas for developing a meaningful study experience.