By Sarah Frazer
The food was set out, the house was cleaned, and the kids were in the basement with my husband. No one is going to show up, I said to myself.
Those thoughts kept coming as I prepared to host my very first Bible study.
I had invited ten people. Four said they would come, and I wondered if they would.
Hosting a community Bible study felt very vulnerable. And I didn’t feel equipped to lead one.
Two hours later, I shut the door as my last friend left.
They had come. Three people showed up, and my cup was full.
Two weeks later, three people showed up again.
We talked about God’s Word, prayed, and watched a teaching video from a well-known Bible teacher.
For eight weeks, we met every other Thursday.
Each time, three to five people showed up. Some didn’t come every time, but two did.
After that first Bible study, I asked if they wanted to continue.
“Yes,” they said. “Can we invite a friend?”
A few weeks later, we began again. This time, we took turns bringing a snack, and the women invited three friends.
Our community Bible study grew.
Each Thursday, I opened my home to these ladies. I offered my couch, my time, and a listening ear.
For seven years, a group of five women gathered in my home.
Over the years, we completed over 20 different studies! We never took a season off because God’s Word is something we need all of the time.
One of the biggest myths we can believe about leading a community Bible study is that we have to “know it all”—or at least know a bunch about God before starting.
But a good leader is someone who is willing to learn and teach what she’s learned.
Three Myths About Leading a Community Bible Study
Here are a few more common false beliefs about leading a Bible study.
Myth #1: We have to know a lot.
When I first started, I didn’t know much about leading a group—I learned along the way!
My friends and I were in it together.
Our center was on God’s Word, not my knowledge.
It was okay that I didn’t know all of the answers.
Myth #2: We have to be a teacher.
If we find the right book or Bible study, we can facilitate the group rather than teach it.
I used Bible studies of all kinds, but Living by Design Ministries has a ton of resources—all free to use!
The best community Bible study leader allows Scripture to do the teaching.
Myth #3: Our lives must reflect the Bible perfectly.
I used to believe I had to flawlessly display the lesson each week.
But in practice, it doesn’t work that way.
It isn’t about a perfect life, but a perfect God working out His perfect plan in our lives.
A good leader forgets the idea of having it all together.
Instead, we can ask God to equip and guide us.
Helpful Tips for Hosting a Community Bible Study
Here are some useful things to remember when facilitating a community Bible study.
1 – Organize and plan the dates to meet.
Look at the book’s or study’s table of contents and plan out the weeks.
List all of the dates to meet as a group.
Write out which weeks certain chapters will be discussed.
Type this schedule up and print it off to hand out on the first night.
Everyone can’t come every single time, but knowing what to expect on the weeks she attends is helpful.
2 – Do the homework.
Do the work and read the chapters before meeting.
On the day of the meeting, review notes and figure out which questions to ask.
At the meeting, open up and share with others.
Rather than fearing judgment or ridicule, this sets an example of vulnerability.
3 – Be quiet and listen to others talk.
Listening is important. Even if women don’t feel comfortable sharing at first, don’t jump in and answer all the questions.
Embrace the awkward silence.
Let others have a chance to think and move past the fear of speaking or saying the wrong answer.
When someone responds, encourage her to keep talking.
4 – Steer the conversation forward.
Sometimes one person wants to do a lot of the talking. That’s okay!
Encourage that person to share, but keep her from dominating the entire time.
As a leader, move forward with the questions, or the study can turn into hours of talking.
Checklist Before You Lead a Book or Bible Study
Ask the Lord to guide your decisions.
2. Pick a day of the week and a time.
Meeting every other week is a great routine. Most people can come twice a month. Weekly is harder, but depends on the capacity of you and your participants.
3. Set a date to begin.
Pick a date that fits your schedule, and remember, most people can’t participate every time—and that’s fine!
4. Invite more women than you expect to attend.
If you want 10–15 people in your group, invite 30–40! Think outside the box and allow others to invite anyone they want.
5. Make it easy for participants.
Set up a group message system for the group—email, text, or Facebook—to share announcements. Order books for the group and have ladies pay you back if they can. This makes it easier to say yes!
6. Decide on a format.
I spend the first 30 minutes on homework and opening prayer. Then we discuss the group questions together. Next, we spend 10–15 minutes on prayer requests. The final 15–20 minutes is for snacks and fellowship.
I struggled for years, feeling like I didn’t have enough experience to lead.
But God reminded me repeatedly that even though I don’t know enough, He always does.
Women show up for community Bible study because God’s Word bonds us together.
Sarah E. Frazer writes regularly for the Proverbs31 First5 app and crosswalk.com. With a background in missionary work and Bible teaching, her passion is to encourage women to find peace in the pages of God’s Word. Follow her on Instagram at @sarah_e_frazer. Check out her brand new book, I Didn’t Sign Up for This, available anywhere books are sold.