I remember the first time I had the opportunity to lead a Bible Study. I was in high school, and once every week I would meet with my youth pastor and a few other guys in my youth group at Perkins for breakfast and conversation about the Bible.
After a few weeks, my youth pastor decided he wanted the students to take some ownership in the group so he asked me to lead the discussions at the table. Being one who always wanted a role in leadership and feared the idea of disappointing a mentor, I jumped at the opportunity even though I had no idea how to lead a Bible Study.
I don’t remember much about those Bible Studies at breakfast, but I am positive they were terrible. I had no clue what I was doing. I would read a passage the night before and try to find something creative to point out – something that would make the rest of the group ooh and aah while nodding their heads in approval.
That’s not exactly how things turned out. I stuttered my way through the talk each morning trying to find something meaningful to highlight while sharing nothing with clarity. After a few weeks, I grew weary of the exercise and the early mornings soon became too much. I soon vacated my role as Bible Study Leader and took back my few extra hours of sleep in the morning.
The Bible Studies were so bad even the Bible Study Leader quit coming.
I had a worthy goal.
I did not have the skills to successfully achieve my goal.
I burned out and went back to bed.
There were many problems in the way I approached the Bible Study.
Leading a Bible Study means letting the Bible take the lead.
The first problem was I thought leading a Bible Study meant I needed to come up with something to say. Good Bible Study Leaders and Teachers know that they are not coming up with something to teach; they let the Bible teach for itself.
When you write a Sunday School lesson, a Bible Study, or even a sermon, you do not go to the Bible with something to say. You go to the Bible to see what it has to say.
I should not have prepared for my Bible Studies by looking for that elusive moment of inspiration when I would find something that would leave everyone breathless. Instead, I should have spent time figuring out what the author of the passage was trying to say.
Leading a Bible Study is more effective when one person is not doing all the talking.
A lot of times when we try to lead a Bible study for the first time, we think we need to duplicate what our pastor does on Sunday morning. We think that we need to be a teacher who does all the talking and who is is responsible for teaching a set lesson.
But often times the most effective thing a Bible Study Leader can do is sit back and facilitate. Asking good open-ended questions and letting others discover what the text is saying through conversation often provides deeper, richer learning than straightforward lessons where only one person does the talking.
In most cases, Bible Studies should be a dialogue that depends on the group navigating the text rather than a monologue by the expert. One reason for this is that good questions that lead to a dialogue is a much more reproducible method than the expert monologue model.
Leading a Bible Study is easier than you think.
Some of you probably believe that you could never lead a Bible Study. You’re wrong.
God has called all believers to make disciples. He has called us to teach others to obey everything that Christ has commanded us. Paul says we are to be “teaching one another,” (Col 3:16). Teaching at some level is something all Christians are expected to do.
The fact is Jesus would not call you to do something that is impossible for the non-experts. When God calls us to make disciples and to teach one another, he is calling us to a task that is doable. We just overcomplicate it too many times.
Whether it is with your kids at home, with some friends at school, or your spouse, you should be leading someone in discussions on the Bible. That’s just one part of what it means to make a disciple.
So how can we do that?
5 Simple Questions to Lead a Bible Study Anytime, Anywhere with Anyone
There are many methods you could use to lead a simple Bible Study. This is just one way that allows you to open up a Bible passage at any time with anyone and have a solid, biblical conversation that will produce great fruit.
I was taught this method of Bible Study by one of my former pastors, Chad Lewis. I have taken this method that he passed on to me and taught it to several men in discipleship classes. It has been fascinating to watch men who never thought they could lead, take these five questions and become able Bible Study leaders in a short amount of time.
- What does this passage teach me about God?
- What does this passage teach me about myself?
- How do I need to respond to these truths?
- How does this passage lead me to worship?
- How can I use this passage to minister to others?
Take these five questions today and work through them with someone you know. Allow time for the both of you to meditate on these questions and to talk about some of the answers that the Holy Spirit has brought to mind.
The beauty of this model is that it works for every passage of Scripture. You can use it in the Gospels or in the Books of the Law. You can use it in Paul’s Letters or in the Prophets. You can use it in a narrative or in a poem. Where ever you are in the Bible, these five questions will continually lead you in powerful discussions about God and his Word.
This set of questions is just one of the many tools I learned from Pastor Chad Lewis in Pastor’s School at Sojourn Community Church. One of my favorite things about Pastor’s School was how everything that we were taught was reproducible – taught in a way that we could take it to someone else.
Another gift that Chad has continued to take to others is his gift of songwriting.
Right now, in the wake of great suffering and loss, Chad is working on a new album that you can be a part of. Please consider being a part of the Kickstarter campaign to help him finish the album.
Chad has passed on many things to me that I have been able to share with many others. How awesome would it be to see the masses of people that this man’s ministry has impacted rally together to serve him in return.
Whether it is a small financial gift or just the click of a share button on Facebook, take a moment in the next few days to help Pastor Chad accomplish this goal so that he can continue to use his gifts to minister to others.
[Update] As of this afternoon, Pastor Chad’s album has been fully funded! You can still chip in if you’d like to be a part of the production and receive some cool rewards.