I recently realized that I have spent the vast majority of my professional career leading bible studies. Thus, it should come as no surprise to me that today I find myself overseeing a three year, twenty-one part, formation process for men that completely hinges upon scripture. My name is Nathaniel Binversie, I’m the author of the Exodus 90 Spiritual Exercise and the creator and chief editor of Day 91, a formative set of spiritual exercises for men carried by the narrative of salvation history.
When it comes to leading a bible study there are some tried and true practicals that should be considered.
- If God is asking you to lead a bible study, say “yes.”
- Pick a conducive location for all involved
- Set a time that works for most
- Schedule the event
- Invite each individual you want to come (in person is best)
- Prepare to lead the study. 2 hours of preparation for a one hour study is great. One hour of prep should be the minimum. This includes reviewing material, selecting questions, and talking with the Lord about your notes in prayer.
- Remind people about the study the night before (for older and married people) or the day of (for single young adults or younger).
- Live hospitality. Have good music ready to play, snacks set out, and appropriate drinks on hand (for young adults this may even look like craft beer and good wine).
- Help others get to know each other at the study so that everyone knows more people than just you.
- Welcome the Holy Spirit and have a great study.
These practicals are worth sharing. If desired, more can even be spoken about them. But for this article, I’m going to dive into a couple things most people don’t talk about when leading a bible study. Here we go.
First, the scriptures aren’t boring, so don’t give them a bad rap. Two ways this frequently happens are through a bible study going undirected by the leader and a leader showing up unprepared.
Too often people think that a bible study and a “share our feelings” group are the same thing. The scriptures are full of truths of the faith. Yes, they may cause Joe to feel a certain way. The passion narrative will rightly bring me to tears the rest of my life. But a prolonged discourse on how Joe feels about the passion, and a study on the truths about Christ’s fulfilment of the Old Covenant and opening of the new for all mankind right there on Calvary are two very different things. Both are good, but very different. As the leader you must know what you want out of the study and be able to communicate that to your group. You must know where the bible study is going and lead your group members in that direction.
Being unprepared to reveal to those at your study some of the beautiful aspects of scripture is a huge disservice to those present. An unprepared bible study is usually filled with no information about the scripture at hand, or worse, wrong information about the scripture at hand. Be prepared for your study to avoid both of these. No need to say more here.
Secondly, let’s cover the topic of choosing material.
Approximately none of us are scripture scholars. Most of us don’t work with scripture on a daily basis. Many of us struggle to even make the Word of God a daily part of our prayer life. This doesn’t mean that we can’t lead a bible study. Though, it likely means we are not the best person to create a bible study for others.
I remember being down in Ave Maria, Florida one summer for FOCUS’s New Staff Training when I was working as a missionary. There, a staff director got on stage and asked a gymnasium filled to capacity with full time missionaries what the number one bible study being used on campus was that past year. A unanimous answer was shouted from the sea of zealous missionaries, “The Crux.” And they were right, the introductory study that covers the gospel message has been the most used FOCUS study for years. Then the director asked, “And what’s the number two bible study being used on campus?” A number of varied answers came from the crowd followed by relative confusion.
According to the data collected, the second most used bible study on campus at that time was “other.” No, there was not a FOCUS bible study by that name. Rather, missionaries and student bible study leaders alike were either seeking other things to do than a FOCUS bible study or making up bible studies on their own. Why? Were the FOCUS studies that bad? No, in fact they were quite good and have only gotten better. So why would missionaries be seeking other things to do or be making up their own bible studies? Great question.
There are too many good bible study resources out there today for us to be making up our own studies. Yes, even orthodox Catholic ones. Many studies cost money to use and “the laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim 5:18). A few are free to use. Video studies are selling and thus many of those exist. Using videos in a small group setting has pros and cons (that’s a whole different blog post). If you want to use video, it’s there. If not, you could still choose a video study, take notes on the week’s video, and present a few (don’t overdo it) key parts from the video to your group. Many of the studies come with prepared questions for the group. If you want to make a study more personal, the questions are a great place to do that. Pick a few questions you want to use for your study and adjust them to fit the group you are working with. Below this article are few bible study resources recommended by Ablaze. Feel free to check them out.
A bible study can be powerful way to introduce others to the Word of God. Go back up to the list above. Is the Lord calling you to lead a bible study? If so, say “yes,” and start preparing to show others just how rich the scriptures really are.
Exodus 90, Director of Mission
Ablaze Recommended Resources
FOCUS Bible Studies: https://focusoncampus.org/find-a-study
The St. Paul Center Scripture Studies: https://stpaulcenter.com/studies-tools/journey-through-scripture/
Word on Fire Video studies: https://www.wordonfire.org/study-programs/
Augustine Institute Video Studies: https://watch.formed.org/bible-studies
Nathaniel Binversie is the Director of Mission for Exodus Inc., the author of the Exodus 90 Spiritual Exercise, Chief Editor for Day 91, Husband, Father, and parishioner at St. John the Baptist parish in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Before he worked for Exodus he worked in collegiate ministry, including three years with the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). Nathaniel holds degrees in Philosophy, Catholic Studies, and a Masters in Theology. Though he has seen the Lord call him to use his brain in fantastic ways he is certain that it is his knees that are most valuable to both his family and to mission. On top of that he wants you to know he loves big mountain skiing.