Want to Begin a Women’s Bible Study But Don’t Know Where to Start?

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The church is a community and central to that community is the Word of God.  When we gather together, feasting on the daily bread, “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” we are as we should be, as we are called to be.  One of the greatest joys for me in ministry is meeting together with other women around the Word of God (and a good cup of tea or coffee.) 🙂  Women from all walks of life, backgrounds, ethnicity, ages, and from various stages in their faith joining their lives in community around God’s Word is thrilling to me.  I learn so much from them.  We have met everywhere from college dormitories, condos, church buildings, coffeehouses, my house, and even outside.  Wherever we met became for us a sanctuary as God’s Word instructed us, encouraged us, challenged us, and increased our wonder and awe of our magnificent God.  What women’s Bible study does for us that co-ed studies, or life stage groups cannot do is that it is the immediate equalizer.  Women, we get each other.  But what women’s Bible study does for us that other women’s groups (craft groups, book clubs, girls night, Bunco, etc) cannot do is that instead of the group making us more like each other, women’s Bible studies are intended to make us more like God And we get to “spur one another on to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another…”(Hebrews 10:24).  This is what women’s Bible study is for- spurring one another on, meeting together, encouraging one another, and central to all this is the Word of God.

Maybe you are wanting to start a Bible study yourself, but you don’t know where to start.  Here are a few, simple things to keep in mind as you plan to begin a group of your own:

  1. Consult your pastor.  Unless the Bible study meets in your home, you will want to check with your pastor first before you start a new group.  There are important things to consider if you wish to initiate a Bible study in your church.  Does your church already have a women’s Bible study?  If so, make sure that your study will not compete or conflict with any existing women’s group- the pastor can help you with this.  It is important to always go through the leadership in the church and not be a lone ranger- this is to protect you, communicate between groups, and keep everyone accountable.
  2. Start small.  Not too long ago, I spoke with Jen Wilkin about the best way to reach the maximum number of women in my church for Bible study.  I asked her: How do I help cultivate a culture of Bible study with the busy women in my church?  As I pray for the women, how do I encourage them to understand the importance, value, joy, and sustenance that we receive when we fellowship with God through His word?  Where do I tell them to begin?   This was her response:

I think the answer will vary from church to church depending on how entrenched the current “culture” of Bible study (or lack thereof) is. In my experience, it has started small and sort of become contagious as others became enthusiastic about it. Is there anyone in your church who can teach? Women need to see other women who are crazy about actual study.

I just started teaching in my home, writing studies that helped women learn to ask good questions and use good tools. It sort of grew from there. It didn’t feel like a program or a sorority meeting, and I think they were just ready for that.
I look at it like this: if two women come, it’s still the right thing to do. And who knows who those two women will impact?
I am beginning to see the benefit of “small” versus the “Anyone Bible Study for Everyone” approach.  You can offer a Bible study group to the women in your church (or mom’s group, exercise group, whatever), but only invest in those who are serious about committing to the group.  Don’t chase after the minimally interested or disinterested.  How will you know?  Time will tell.  Don’t slow the process to try and get everyone on board.  Eventually, it will catch…the two or three women in your group will get excited about God’s Word in rich community, and like Jen said it can become contagious- “women need to see other women who are crazy about actual study.”
3.  Know your gifts.  You do not have to be a Bible teacher to begin a women’s Bible study.  Is there a teacher in your church whom you can partner with in forming a group?  Also, there are a lot of wonderful resources out there right now at your disposal that require minimal administration without a lead teacher.  I use a lot of Jen Wilkin’s studies, which are free online and they include a weekly lesson taught by Jen.  Shereadstruth.com just released a new study called Open Your Bible, and the devotionals on the site could be useful for discussion in a women’s group as well.  You can always peruse your local Christian bookstore to get Bible study ideas too.  I have taught through books of the Bible, used curriculum, and incorporated a little bit of both, and I see the benefit of it all as long as God’s Word is carefully and clearly proclaimed.
The most important thing to remember is to pray for God to grant you wisdom and help from the Holy Spirit as you endeavor to minister to women – and you are to be commended for desiring to gather women together around the Word of God.  The next thing to do is just start!  After receiving peace from the Lord while following the vision of your local church, as the old Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It!”  If God is for you, who can be against you?!  Trust me in this, the enemy will use anybody to try and discourage you.  If God is for you nobody will be able to stop you or His work, because after all it is His work- we are merely vessels for His service and glory.  Don’t settle for programs or big”to-dos.”  Focus on nurturing relationships around the Word of God, and wait for God to transform women’s hearts as well as build the bond between sisters in Christ.  It truly is a “good and pleasant thing when [sisters] dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
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