Here are five tips on facilitating your first Bible study meeting:
1. Greet members individually as they arrive. Catch up on personal news.
2. Allow members to choose their own seats. This small but important detail ensures members will feel comfortable in the group.
3. Establish the Bible as your authority. As the facilitator of a group, the Bible is the group’s authority and the Holy Spirit is the Teacher.
4. Define the purpose of the group. Whether a prayer group, Bible study group, support group or another type of group, participants need clear guidelines as to why you are meeting. Some women will turn a Bible study into a prayer group or vice versa unless you as leader remain true to your purpose and intervene.
5. Establish and clarify expectations. Members have certain expectations for one another and for the facilitator as they journey together. Discuss the following expectations during your first group session:
Privacy. Many groups practice a confidentiality covenant that states that information shared within the group is respected as confidential and not shared outside the group. A good rule of thumb is never tell someone else’s story.
Starting and ending times. Keeping commitments is critical if you as facilitator wish to gain the confidence of group members. Starting and ending the session on time is a key commitment.
Here are a few suggestions for approaching a group member who is habitually late:
-Pull her aside and talk in a friendly, non-confrontative manner.
-Without making her feel guilty, explain the distraction of late arrivers.
-Determine the reason she is constantly late.
-Adjust the starting time if possible and convenient.
-Demonstrate concern and a Christ-like attitude.
Attendance. Regular attendance is important not only to individual learning, but also to group members who depend on one another for support, encouragement, and good ideas.
Homework. Curriculum groups (book studies) are planned on the assumption that members have read the material and completed the exercises and activities prior to the group meeting. During each group session members are asked to share, on a voluntary basis, their responses to the learning activities. Members benefit from comparing what they have learned between sessions with the responses of others in the group. If some in the group have not completed the activities, they become "takers" and not "givers" to the group. In addition, they will be unprepared to share their own feelings with the group. As facilitator, model the expectation by completing all the assignments yourself. Be prepared to talk with individuals outside the session if it becomes obvious assignments are not being completed.
Voluntary participation. Emphasize that you will not ask anyone to share personal information. Encourage members to share their feelings, attitudes, insights, and experiences as they feel comfortable to do so. Trust the group process. Members are capable of contributing to the group. Encourage members to talk directly to one another rather than through you.
Other helpful resources for Bible study: