Every Monday at 9:00 p.m. (yes, you read that right), three of my friends and I meet to prepare for the women’s Bible study we lead at Concordia University. We can have anywhere from five to twenty gals show up for what we call “Propel.” The four of us divide the responsibilities of leadership so that no one gets burned out.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, my friends, and my peers throughout my role as a leader of Propel. Perhaps some of this knowledge will encourage you to join a Bible study group, start a group, or read through a Bible study book on your own or with friends.
Listening Is Important, but So Is Your Response
The very first things I learned was that listening is important and that relationships are key. I’m a natural listener—I always have been. The thing I often struggle with is the second most important thing, the thing that makes relationships happen: my response. Listening to another person rant for twenty minutes is great, as the person often just needs someone to listen to what he or she is dealing with.
Bible studies include time in God’s Word, but there are other relational aspects as well. Sometimes, a Bible study meeting can include sharing and venting about the struggles of life. The group is often a safe place to share experiences with brothers and sisters in Christ and to receive encouragement.
The leader’s response often comes into play during this time of the study. Smiling and nodding, whether you’re actively listening or not, can only do so much. A real, mindful response can do wonders for a person struggling. Here are some responses that I’ve found helpful:
- A heartfelt acknowledgement of a person’s pain can go a long way. Often, people share their problems because they want to be understood. Your response may sound unhelpful to you, but it can be followed up with active responses like those below.
- Point the person to God. Sometimes we get tired of hearing the same things, but you can be intentional and point people to God in a noncliché way. I always ask, “Have you told God about it?” When we get caught up in our emotions, we often forget that God wants us to turn to Him.
- Let the person know you’re a resource. Offer to get coffee or lunch later. Don’t just say that you’re there for someone; that can be perceived as an empty response. Show up for what you say and be specific in your suggestions.
Connecting with people is an essential part of having a leadership role. Listening and responding will help build that relationship.
Sure, it may be -20°F in St. Paul, but it is important not to cancel Bible study. When you run a Bible study, you have to be ready to show up. Even if you think numbers will be down due to outside circumstances, having some sort of fellowship meeting is still a good idea. Anything works—even something as small as a short devotion and prayer can be meaningful.
You never know how important something like Bible study can be to a person. Sometimes, it’s the only way people get connected. Making it a consistently open invitation makes people more likely to show up. Being consistent provides stability that some may not have in their lives, and it shows that you care about the people in your Bible study and want them to be there.
Invite everyone! You never know who you’ll reach. I’ve been known to invite everyone I meet to my Bible study. Even when men ask if they can join us women, I always say that they can come too. There is a men’s Bible study that meets at the same time, but the two groups have different leaders, different activities, and different snacks (which is obviously the deciding factor).
My Bible study group may be for women, but we’re not an exclusive club, and neither is your Bible study. Anyone can come join the group. Connecting with people is a huge part of having a Bible study, so consider including people outside of your friend group. Invite the people you think will say “no.” Invite the people who aren’t likely to come. You’ll be surprised!
Get Started on leading a Bible Study today with this free Beginner's Guide on How to Lead a Bible Study.