Earlier this week I posted a list of Do’s and Don’ts for leading Bible study, focusing particularly on the preparation before the group gets together. Today I would like to continue that list, looking at some of the Do’s and Don’ts concerning the start of the meeting itself.
DO: Get people talking before you start
One of the hardest things to do in any Bible study, especially when the group is still getting established, is to get people relaxed and talking. So, prior to studying Scripture (which can be emotionally and intellectually taxing), start with something easy. Here are some good ice-breaking questions:
1. If you could have any super power what would it be? (JP2 Group favourite)
2. Who is your favourite superhero?
3. What is your favourite Disney movie?
4. What is your favourite book (excluding the Bible, of course)?
5. What was the last book you read?
6. What was the last movie you saw?
7. What is the most inspiring movie you’ve seen?
One thing we’ve taken to doing in JP2 is to get people to share their “Junk, Joy or Jesus”. Each person is invited share with the group something that happened during their week. This may be something bad (“junk”), good (“joy”) or God-related (“Jesus”).
If possible, try and get every member of the group to say something. As a leader you’re trying to get everyone to the point where they’re comfortable enough to talk in front of the rest of the group. If you can achieve this, it is much more likely that everyone will be willing to share when you finally get down to doing some Scripture study.
DON’T: Start late
If you start late, people will be more likely to turn up late the following week.
DO: Pray as a group before you start
It’s very easy to skip prayer and charge ahead to the Scripture study. You’re anxious to get on! However, resist the urge to rush into it. Sacred Scripture is God-breathed, so it’s only right to ask for His help before studying the Word which He inspired.
DO: Make use of silence before sharing
After having read the passages out loud, it’s tempting to immediately jump into discussion. However, I’ve found the sharing to be much more fruitful if people are first given some time to think, to pray and to re-read the passages to themselves. This is best achieved by taking a few minutes of quiet before the sharing begins.
If you decide to take a time of silence prior to the discussion, make sure you announce to the group that this is what is happening. If you don’t do this, newcomers to the group will be confused and feel uncomfortable by what they perceive to be an awkward silence!
After the time of silence, someone may re-read the passage out loud, in a way similar to what is done in Lectio Divina.
On Saturday I’ll post the next entry in this series and finally get on to some Do’s and Don’ts for the discussion itself.
Until then, what do you think? What, in your experience, makes or breaks a Bible study?