Q: How did you first get involved in leading a group bible study?
A: It came out of a necessity really. At the time we were attending a church that used childcare/children's ministries for every adult gathering/class/service. So in order to do the women's Bible study group I was going to have to place my children in childcare yet again. Neither them nor I was comfortable with that (I homeschool my children so while children their age were in school, they would have been with me). God was also working on me with not having my children see me in any form of worship with the Lord. I had my quiet time in the morning before the kids awoke and any time we were at church or small group, they were kept separate. I started to question how they would know how to worship as adults if they never saw adults worshipping. I still needed to have Bible study though. Out of these needs and desires came the idea of opening my own home for Bible study and inviting women that had similar wants as my own (needing Bible study and wanting and not caring if children were around). God lead five other women to me and I started my first Bible study within weeks.
Q: In your experience, do women readily want to participate in these groups? Is the effort well worth it?
A: I think most women long for this companionship, they just are afraid of it. Many women fear they won't fit in and/or they won't have anything intelligent or spiritual to contribute. Out of these fears, they make excuses for either not joining or not coming. One of the biggest obstacles in leading a Bible study is learning how to encourage the women in the study to feel comfortable and involved, that they matter not just in the Kingdom but also in their little corner of Bible study.
The blessings that flow once you've established a small Bible study group are amazing. Any effort or trials you encounter while getting things off the ground are so pale in comparison to what the Lord does in each of their lives and yours.
Q: What are the biggest problems that can arise when leading a bible study group? Any tips?
A: One of the biggest problems is lack of attendance, which can sometimes be contributed to either conflicting schedules or fears. Figuring out which problem is affecting Bible study is usually harder than correcting it.
Another problem is overcoming your own fears of inadequacy. Satan is a good liar and will come against you in every way; you aren't worthy of leading, you are horrible at leading, the women don't come because they don't like you: all of these are lies that many many leaders have believed at one time or another.
Q: What makes for a good bible study leader? Can any Christian woman do it?
A: Prayer and a willingness to be a servant of God. That is it. Jesus didn't have a lot of requirements when choosing disciples. They all had a willingness to follow and serve Jesus.
You do need to commit to daily prayer for the Bible study. You need to become a prayer warrior on behalf of the study and an intercessor for each of the ladies involved.
Q: What kind of Satanic attacks should a leader expect?
A: Anything and everything:
Examples are but not limited to
Health (you, spouse, children, other ladies in the Bible study)
Your alone time with God -- this is critical to maintain while leading a Bible study. Don't let satan distract you from this.
Bible study conversations are flat because you aren't a good leader. This is not necessarily true. You will have good days and some days will seem not so good. The problem that satan capitalizes on is that you don't always know what someone has taken away with them that day. Trust in God and don't trust in your feelings.
The women in your Bible study don't like you. Satan loves those self-esteem attacks, especially with women. Remember you are all there for God and not a popularity contest. Also, if a tough word from God needs to be spoken, don't be afraid to share it because someone might not like it. If you are speaking truth, someone at some point in time will be offended. Don't take it personally if what you spoke lines up with the word of God.
Q: What steps should a potential leader take after deciding she'd like to start a group? Should she start by meeting with her Pastor in hopes that it would be supported by the church? What if the church doesn't support her effort?
A: Women who feel called to lead a Bible study should contact their pastor, not only for his input but also for the additional prayer coverage. It certainly is necessary if you want to lead the study at the church but it is not necessary to get support if you are leading a home group. If you do not have the support or guidance of a church leader pray for God to send you another Bible study leader to have contact with. This is good when you have questions or concerns and need someone else to bounce things off of. Also good in swapping ideas.
Q: How important is prayer when starting and running a study group?
A: Pray, Pray Pray. It is essential to have an open line of communication with God. It protects you from attacks, it gives you comfort and guidance, it keeps your spirit fresh and renewed each day. Prayer is a life line and is the most essential part of a good Bible study leader. Prayer also allows God to use the Holy Spirit to guide you and impart wisdom to you.
Also start praying that God bring the right women to the group and that each of you will discover a deeper walk and understanding of Him.
Q: Any other words of advice for current and potential group leaders?
A: Find confidence in the Lord. You are His chosen, He considers you blessed. Walk in those promises that are found through the word of God. If you can believe what God feels and says about you, then you can impart that to the other ladies in the Bible study. Having a love and a desire for Christ is always contagious.
Trust in the Lord. If God has placed this on your heart -- follow through. You will be blessed more then you could ever have imagined.
Keep the conversations on track. Keep the conversations wholesome and of God. Don't allow gossip or negative talk about others. Keep the conversation going, and if nobody seems to want to answer the question at hand, try to encourage them by sharing part of your answer. One way to keep the women involved in conversation is by letting them share their answers first. Always praise them for contributing.
Another problem that sometimes arises is not letting the Bible study become one person's soapbox or their therapy session. Each woman is important and all need equal time and attention from the group. Keep the conversations from focusing on one person's problems or needs or answers.
Q: And finally, are there any study guides you've used that you'd recommend for moms and women's groups?
A: If you are feeling a little insecure for the first one, video studies are great.
You can also find studies that already contain the questions at the end of each chapter then all you need to do is encourage the women to share.
Elizabeth George has a wonderful Bible study books that work great with small groups (www.elizabethgeorge.com). All of the studies I've used by her have the discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
Christian bookstores have a wealth of Bible studies for women.
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