Below you’ll find the transcript for episode 29, Selecting Discipleship, Mentoring, and Bible Study Materials, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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EP 29 – Selecting Discipleship. Mentoring, and Bible Study Materials
Welcome to the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. I’m Cyndee Ownbey, your host and women’s ministry mentor. I’m the founder of Women’s Ministry Toolbox and the author of Rethinking Women’s Ministry. The Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast is a podcast for women’s ministry leaders and team members of all stages (from new to seasoned) serving in their local church community. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of women’s ministry, I’ll be asking seasoned women’s ministry leaders to share their best tips and the lessons they’ve learned. Together we’ll learn to build a flourishing, Christ-focused women’s ministry.
Today we’ll be talking about who should make that decision and what that person needs to consider when making their materials selection.
The number of resources available for discipleship, small groups, mentoring, and Bible study is overwhelming. How do we narrow them down? And who makes this decision? It varies from church to church.
5 Approaches to Selecting Bible Study, Mentoring, and Discipleship Materials
Each one has its pros and cons that I’ll highlight.
1. Facilitator selection
Pros – The facilitator is likely to pick a study topic she is passionate about and that passion will shine through in her teaching and facilitating.
Cons – Facilitators sometimes get in a rut choosing the same authors repeatedly. The selection(s) may not align with the current focus for the women’s ministry or the church.
2. Pastor selection
Pros – The Women’s Ministry Team does not have to delegate the task. They are often aware of newer studies. The studies they choose will likely align with the current church focus or mission.
Cons – If the Pastor is a man, he may not choose something that appeals to a large number of women. The facilitator and women’s ministry team may feel they had no say in the selection.
3. Women’s Ministry Team Bible Study Coordinator
Pros – This is her primary role, so she should be familiar with a variety of studies and should have her pulse on the interests of the women in the church and community. As part of the Women’s Ministry Team her selections should support and encourage the current focus of the women’s ministry and the church.
Cons – It’s possible her preferences for a particular study style or author may be weighed more heavily in the decision-making process – though not necessarily intentionally. A facilitator may wish to have input.
4. Bible Study Review Team
Pros – A wide variety of women come together to review and give input. A member of the Women’s Ministry Team or the Bible Study Coordinator should chair and guide the team, keeping them on task and in alignment with the current church and ministry goals. Reviews of the same study are completed by multiple people.
Cons – There is a time commitment, and multiple meetings will be necessary. The majority tends to rule, which may not always be a good thing.
5. Attendees Vote
Pros – Those who attend are given a voice in the choice(s). If the Women’s Ministry Team or Bible Study Coordinator is struggling to narrow down the choices, this can be a fair way of deciding which study or studies to offer.
Cons – The voters may be unfamiliar with the content of each study. The final selection may not be in alignment with church and ministry goals. Not all votes may be bathed in prayer.
Here’s one option to consider, have attendees vote on the topic, but not the specific study materials – that allows the facilitator to make certain that the study aligns with God’s Word and the church’s beliefs
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Serving on a Bible Study Review Team
Six or seven years ago, I had the opportunity to serve on a Bible study review team.
It was a really good experience to see how it worked and learn how such a team could be useful in selecting resource materials.
At one of our Bible study meetings, our Bible study coordinator let us know that we had the opportunity to sit on the Bible Study Review Team and that she would love our input. She let us know that this was a multi-week commitment, and we would have to meet several times. There was a lot of reading and research that we were going to be responsible for, but if we wanted to help the team put together a list for future studies, we were welcome to be part of that process.
Side note: In your church, you may want to limit your review team to women who are active members or active attendees of your church if you’ve got a lot of women in the community or women that attend other churches. The biggest concern I would have is that they may not fully align with or understand the theology and beliefs of your particular church or denomination. As they’re reviewing studies, they may not see things that might be an issue or, a red flag.
It was a small team. I think there were maybe five of us that were on it. At that first meeting, our Bible study coordinator brought in this big stack of Bible study books and resources for us to look through. She also had a list that the former team had gone through, and they had reviewed. There were some studies that they liked that we had not yet done. We could review those if we wanted to, we could review some of the books that she had on hand, but we were also welcome to bring in studies that we were aware of to review as well. Over several weeks we met each week, and we would turn in our reviews on a spreadsheet that we filled out. (If you want more information, it’s in my Bible Study Facilitator Training course.)
We looked at things like:
- How much homework was there?
- How many days would it take our women to complete it?
- Was there a DVD that we needed to use? And if so, how long did that last?
We did a really quick skim through each material. We may not have done the lessons, but I at least read thoroughly through several different lessons throughout the book and scanned as much as possible. We turned in what we found and then passed that book to somebody else on the team to review if we felt like others should look at it. Sometimes it was an easy no – we didn’t like the resource for whatever reason. Sometimes we weren’t sure. And sometimes it was a definite yes – we wanted somebody else to give their stamp of approval. We circulated those books and resources around and got at least two or three people to review every resource.
We met together, and we discussed what we liked, what we found, and ultimately narrowed down the selection to just a few Bible study books. And from there, our Bible Study Coordinator and the Women’s Ministry Team decided which of those selections would be offered in the following semester.
I enjoyed the process. It was nice to lend a hand, give some input, and look through the studies before offering them. The only real struggle I have with that process is you have to select the person who’s going to lead the study after the study has been selected. That person may not love the study options that have already been chosen. They may already have in their mind a study that they would like to lead. There may be some way that you can work around that and balance your leader’s input and the review team’s input, but either way, it’s a process you might want to consider in your church.
As you’re reviewing Bible study materials, discipleship materials, and mentoring materials, there are some questions you’re going to want to ask.
I divide them into two categories, practical questions, and theological questions. I will share a small sample of the questions that I like to ask in hopes that they’ll help you as you select resources.
- How long is your meeting time?
- How many weeks will you be meeting?
- How much homework do you wish to assign?
- What type of study are you looking for? (Bible, DVD-driven, Bible study book, Bible study workbook, combination, sermon-based)
- Does this study emphasize engagement with the scriptures, or is it focused primarily on the author’s personal stories and experiences?
- Does this study align with the beliefs and teachings of my Pastor and church?
- Does this study encourage women to search the scriptures for answers, or are they primarily found within the pages of a book or workbook?
There are three more theological questions that I encourage you to ask in the resources I mentioned earlier.
If your team has selected a theme or scripture verse focus for the year, you may want your study selections to support that focus. (Check out How to Select Your Women’s Ministry Theme for more information.)
Today’s Toolbox Task
- Review your material selection process.
- Discuss any possible changes that need to be made.
- Make a plan for implementing those changes.
I pray the Lord will guide your resource selections and that He will lead your team to the right and best resource for your specific group of women.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. Please make sure you hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes. May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may he direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the Lord be apparent to every woman you serve.
What’s the difference between discipleship, Bible studies, and mentoring?
Mentoring Programs and Resources
How to Be a Great Bible Study Leader
Bible Study Books: Reviews and Recommendations