Leading A Great Bible Study part 1

By Phil Sommerville
This is the third in a series on how to have an irresistible small group.

Unlike any other book or writing, God’s Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12).  When we study and apply God’s Word, His life-transforming power is unleashed inside of us.   But to experience the power of God’s Word, we must open up our life to its work.  I believe the small group is an ideal setting for this to happen and I want to help you lead engaging, stimulating and life-changing small group Bible studies.

What makes a small group an ideal setting for great Bible study experiences is that in a healthy group, people will feel safe enough to open up and share what’s going on in their lives.  If at the same time as they open up their lives they open up their Bible, the living and active power of God’s word will enter their lives and transform them.

This means that your small group Bible study can be powerful if you can help your group understand, connect with, and practice the Bible.  Here’s how you can achieve those goals.

A small group Bible study is not a class and you, as the leader, are not a lecturer.  For many of you it will be a relief to know that you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to lead a great Bible study.  Small group Bible study is about discovering things on your own.  When you discover a truth for yourself, the lesson has more impact and staying power than if you were told the same truth in a lecture.  So, the power of a good small group Bible study is in the questions.  Good questions will get people to think, share and learn together.

Good studies will not ask people to simply repeat what they’ve just read.  Those kinds of questions are so obvious that the group will feel insulted and quickly become bored.  Instead, good Bible study questions will ask people to consider the implications of what the scripture passage means.  This allows people to share a variety of thoughts and it’s in the variety that learning and growth happen.  Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences that give them different perspectives when considering the meaning of a passage.  As people share from their different perspectives everyone is able to gain a fuller and richer understanding.  Oftentimes you’ll get a reaction like, “I’ve never thought about it that way before.  That’s really helpful.”  Of course, there will at times be answers given that are unbiblical.  I’ll talk about how to handle that in my next post.

A great small group Bible study will also ask questions that will help your group make a connection between their lives and the passage they are studying.  If people don’t connect the passage with their lives, then they are not connecting to the transforming power of God’s Word.  Examples of connection questions would be: “What would this look like in your own life,” or “What would you do if you were in that situation,” or “In what ways do you relate to what’s going on in this passage?”  When people can make a personal connection between the Bible and their life, the Bible will come alive and your study will get exciting.

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  If you don’t practice what God’s Word teaches, you won’t activate its living power in your life.  Therefore, a great small group study will have a solid Application section and if you are a good small group leader you will not neglect that section. 

A good small group study will have a central point that it’s trying to make.  The questions will have a flow that will lead people towards discovering the central point and how it connects to their lives.  The climax is the application section that asks people to take action on what they have discovered by making a commitment to putting it into practice in their daily lives. 

When people take action on God’s word, God’s transforming power is experienced.  A leader who runs out of time or skips over the application will take all the power out of the study and out of their group.

To lead a great Bible study, you’ll want to use great Bible study materials.  To find great materials or create them yourself, here’s what to look for: 

  • Each session will lead people towards a focused point of understanding. 
  • Questions that are open-ended and allow people to share their different perspectives. 
  • Questions that will encourage people to share about their own lives and make the connection between their lives and the Bible. 
  • Solid application questions that ask people to commit to taking action on what they have learned. 

When you find studies like that (and there are many) you’re on your way to having an exciting and life-transforming small group experience.

In my next post, I’ll share tips on how to get the most out of your Bible study materials so that you can lead life-changing discussions that have everyone engaged, learning and growing.

If you’re looking for great Bible study materials, please check out our Faith Alive 365 small group studies.  All of our studies are carefully designed and tested to facilitate stimulating discussion that help people understand, connect with, and practice God’s Word.  Leaders Guides with tips and suggested answers to every study question are also included with our studies so that you will be equipped to succeed. 

Phil Sommerville is co-founder of Faith Alive 365 and a former Small Groups Pastor who has trained hundreds of small group leaders from churches of all sizes.

Read more articles in Small Group Leadership Tips |

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