In college I decided to lead a Bible study. But when three girls showed up at my dorm room I froze: what do I do now? That study only met twice and it turned into a social hour. Thankfully, a friend of mine took over and the study went wonderfully, but it left me feeling like I had failed.
Several years later, I was asked to lead a small group Bible study for college girls at the campus near our house. I wondered if I would fail again. Fortunately, I had some simple training that took the mystery out of small group leading.
Today I’ll share things I learned and hope they help in leading your own study.
Pray: First ask God: Where is the need for the study? Is it through church? On campus? In the neighborhood? Begin praying for those who’ll come.
Recruit: Find participants. At a weekly campus ministry meeting I distributed a signup sheet. After making an announcement, ladies wrote their names and phone numbers. The next few weeks, I called each girl on the list inviting them to our first study. It was awkward and difficult to make those cold calls. Finally after a few weeks, there were a solid five girls showing up on Tuesday evenings.
Remember the acronym CARE: Keeping these values helped the group stay on track.
C: Community. At the heart of a group is solid community. Women share more when they feel comfortable with others. In the beginning start with an icebreaker. Once the group knows each other, icebreakers aren’t needed. More ways to build community: weekly dinners out, movie nights, serving together. Here is a list of great icebreakers.
A: Adoration. Our purpose is to glorify God, so adoration is essential. It could be prayer, musical worship, or discussion of a portion of scripture and praying it back to God. Some weeks we sang. Other weeks we spent in extended prayer. Once we did a craft while listening to worship music, while focussing on God and all He has done for us. Click here for ideas in connecting with God as a group.
R: Reading. It’s important to choose a quality study when studying scripture. Know the ladies in your group and their capacity. For example, when choosing a study for young moms, it may not be best to study something that will entail a lot of homework. When choosing a study for young believers or seekers, you may not want to study something that doesn’t cover the basics. Some of my favorite studies are these (co-written by Katie Orr) as they are simple enough to do with new believers or seekers, but deep enough for seasoned believers. They also don’t entail a lot of homework, but leave space to linger if time allows.
E: Evangelism. To make sure a group doesn’t grow “inward” (becoming a clique, looking only at themselves), participate in evangelism. If you have a campus study, join with your campus ministry in evangelism. Participate in outreach through church. Pray for specific friends who don’t know Him and ask for opportunities to share the gospel with them. Soularium, Campus Surveys, and Kingdom Prayers for the Lost are all great ways to reach out.
That first year was difficult, fighting the fear of failure, but that small group is one of my favorite ministry memories. The next year that group of five girls multiplied, growing to over ten girls. Out of that first group, several became student leaders in the campus ministry. Many women trusted Christ. Some have gone into full time ministry in the US and abroad.
I’m so thankful for God’s work among women. I know He can use you as well!
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