If you’ve been doing Bible study for any length of time, you’ve watched your women’s Bible study attendance dwindle as each week passes.
The group starts of strong and healthy, but one by one the group members start to drop off like flies…
The excuses pour in:
I had a doctor’s appointment.
I’ve got too much to do.
I forgot to do my homework.
The struggle is real.
After almost 20 years of participating in and leading Bible studies, I’ve gathered and gleaned some great tips to increase your women’s Bible study attendance.
While there is no one way to guarantee every women will finish strong…
Women are more likely to finish Bible study when we do these three things well:
Here are some tried-and-true tips for how we can communicate, create community, and provide consistency for our Bible study groups.
Communication – It is nearly impossible to over-communicate.
1. Encourage (or even require) your discussion group leaders make personal contact during the week between sessions. Does this take time? Yes! But the benefits far out weight the personal cost. Frequent contact builds relationships and provides group facilitators with the opportunity to encourage group members and address any concerns.
2. Send personal notes. Hand written notes are so rare women are blown away when they receive one. Let them know you missed them last week when they didn’t show. Thank them for sharing something personal or being transparent with the group.
3. Send weekly emails. Keep your women on schedule by reminding them which lesson or Bible chapter you’re on. Some women will lose their place in the study and will use that as an excuse not to come back. Don’t forget to let them know you can’t wait to see them next week.
4. Communicate excitement for your study and appreciation for their attendance. This can be done in both your weekly emails and during your time of announcements. Thank them profusely for coming and encourage them to keep coming even if they’ve fallen behind.
Community – Women are longing for real community.
(It’s why so many women are seeking community online.)
1. Be warm and welcoming. Enlist women to walk around to welcome and chat with others. Women who feel welcomed feel wanted.
2. Give them time to talk to one another. Millennials and Generation Z women don’t want to be lectured. They want to participate in lively discussions and glean wisdom from women a little farther down the spiritual path. Opt for shorter video studies or no video at all. Check out my READ Bible study for groups – it’s built around weekly discussion groups.
3. Encourage fellowship beyond the limited Bible study time slot. One church I attended organized an optional lunch out every other week. We did our best to email a reminder with the name of the restaurant and also tried to choose inexpensive restaurants. Once a month you could schedule a breakfast potluck 30 minutes before class starts.
4. Keep your discussion groups small so women will connect and have time to share. I recommend groups of 10-12 women.
5. Give lots of grace. Women who fear they will be singled out for not completing the homework will not come. God can still speak to them through their group members and during the teaching time.
6. Have an open door policy. Allow women to join your study at any time. Chances are she won’t wait for the next study, but will find someplace else to go where she is welcome and wanted. Women take closed doors personally.
7. Share prayer requests. Sharing prayer requests with one another will bond your group members. Compassion often follows transparency.
8. Love on them. Pray for them when they break down in tears. Hand them a tissue and give them a hug. Place a Hershey kiss on every chair before group members arrive.
Consistency – Women want to know what to expect week in and week out.
1. Start and finish on time. Assume women have plans immediately after – most do! Women will stop coming if you make a habit of starting and/or finishing late.
2. Complete the discussion/lesson every single week. That may mean you need to hurry them along, blaming the clock. You’ll not be able to let every single woman share on every single question. It’s okay to feel like there’s so much more to discuss – God’s Word is so rich we shouldn’t finish it off in one sitting!
3. Have a schedule and stick to it. No one wants to sit around and wait for things to get started. Have a plan and a routine.
4. Recruit great discussion group leaders. There are women in your church that are gifted group leaders. Pray God will give you eyes and ears to find them.
5. Train your discussion group leaders. Great groups rarely happen by accident. Train your discussion group leaders in how to handle group members that dominate the conversation. Make certain they understand their role and the expectations.
6. Regularly pray that your women will be faithful in their attendance. I’ve definitely seen a difference when our discussion group facilitators would meet to pray every week before the women were due to arrive. See my Praying for Your Small Group handout for specific prayer suggestions.
What other tips do you have for leaders that are struggling with dropping attendance in their Bible study groups?
You may also want to read:
READ Bible Study for Groups
Tips & Tools for Bible Study & Small Group Facilitators
How to Stay on Schedule
One Thing Every Group Leader Needs to Learn
Praying for Your Small Group
Gathering Prayer Requests