I personally think leading or facilitating a Bible Study is one of the most challenging roles God can call us to fill. Not only must you be prepared for each week’s study, but you must prayerfully navigate the personalities and preferences of your group members.
Over the last 20 or so years I’ve had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the table (or circle) as a facilitator and as a participant.
Drawing from those experiences, I’ve pulled together 5 Myths Bible Study Leaders Believe:
Myth #1 – It’s okay if we didn’t finish the lesson for this week.
Truth #1 – You might miss a God-ordained moment if you skip some of the questions. Assume God has something for someone to hear in each question and answer. You run the risk that some of your women may stop finishing their homework if you consistently run out of time before getting to the end. I’ve got some great tips for getting through your lesson in a timely manner in the post How to Stay on Schedule.
Myth #2 – Everyone should have a chance to share (on every question).
Truth #2 – If you invite everyone to share on every question you’ll run out of time. Your job is to keep the group on task and on schedule. Also see Truth #1.
Myth #3 – Everyone should share.
Truth #3 – Not everyone always has something of value to share or wants to share. Some of your group members probably didn’t complete the assignment. Going around the circle to share answers could make them very uncomfortable. Sometimes the stresses in our lives make it difficult to share without becoming emotional. Invite, but never force, group members to share.
Myth #4 – I should fill in the gaps with my own answers.
Truth #4 – This is going to sound harsh, but “it’s not about you”. As the facilitator it’s your role to introduce the question and let your group members talk. If, and only if, God has really laid it upon your heart to share one of your responses, do so. Your sharing should be the exception, not the rule. Chances are if the group is unusually silent in answering God has planned for you to spend more time on a question further down the list. You can also try these two methods to get them talking.
Myth #5 – I must verbally acknowledge every answer given.
Truth #5 – Your response can hamper the discussion. If you comment on every single response you take time away from the discussion. You may also inadvertently hurt a group member’s feelings by responding differently to their answer. I.E. Group member Suzie gets upset because you told Dana her answer was “great!” but said her response was “good.” Women, especially, can be very sensitive. Nod and look to the group to continue the discussion.
Your turn to share: What are some other myths Bible Study Leaders believe and how do you deal with them?
You may also want to read:
Tips & Tools for Bible Study and Small Group Facilitators
The First Day of Bible Study
Bible Study Leader Kit
A Code of Conduct for Small Groups
One year ago: 5 Ways the Internet Undermines Your Ministry
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