We’ve all been there: we ask a group of actively involved Bible study group members what we think is a basic Bible question. But after much foot-shuffling and eye-contact-avoiding, it slowly dawns on us: they don’t know what to say, even though they’ve been in church all their lives.
How can we help our group members interact with God’s Word in a way that sticks? And, even more importantly, how can we help them live out what they do learn?
1. Refuse to give easy answers. Instead, let them discover. In all your excitement about communicating the fascinating facts you’ve discovered during your prep time, you might do all (or most of) the talking. Group members can let your teaching go in one ear and out the other, but they will remember what they themselves discover.
2. Get ‘em talking. The one who talks is the one who learns. The best way to generate conversation is to stop your own talking. This is tough because we feel it’s our responsibility as leaders to communicate Bible truth. But the best Bible communication happens when learners voice Bible truths with their own voices.
3. Let the Bible be the source of truth. Your goal is not to have group members parrot back what they already know (or what you’ve already told them). You’re after new engagement with the text, not a pop quiz on what they’ve already learned. So make sure to use a few well-worded questions that help group members interact with the text in that moment. Ask them to engage specific verses during the discussion rather than making general statements.
4. Search away. You’ve been thinking about the passage all week. Group members are just getting into it. So give your group time to search the passage and articulate what it says; in so doing Bible knowledge takes root. Sample: What might be included in a recipe for reconciliation based on Matthew 18:15-17? Which ingredient might need to go in first?
5. Be a learner. Let your group teach you how. “Why is obeying God in this matter worth the effort?” or “How have you seen this Bible principle in action at your workplace?” or “Could this work in real life? How?” When your group can show you how to apply the Bible verses, they truly understand the verses.
Karen Dockrey is a content editor for Bible Studies for Life Adult. She’s written over 30 books to equip group leaders, many of which are available from LifeWay. She has a passion for living the Bible and a heart for dark chocolate.