Scripture admonishes those of us who "teach" the Bible to realize that we have an incredible responsibility.
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." James 3:1 (NIV) Therefore, I would like to propose the following steps as suggestions for preparing to lead a small group Bible study.
- Know your stuff.
This does not imply we are to be "the" Bible experts for our group. But we should:
- Use various study tools (commentaries, Strong's Concordance, Bible dictionary)
- Utilize principles of biblical interpretation
- Organize a weekly study plan.
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15
- Know whom you stuff.
How well do you know the people in your group? What are their needs, desires, wants? Do you know their children, hobbies, hang-ups? What is their preferred method of learning? "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:3
- Know the art of stuffing.
Jesus is our example here. He knew when to use the appropriate method for his lessons. He used parables, metaphors, questions, lifestyle, objects and stories. The worst method in teaching is the same one all the time. What new method of leading a Bible study are you using this week?
- Place your stuff within a planned agenda.
Bible study is one part of the group meeting. Remember the goal is not to download information to people but to lead them to be transformed (Rom. 12:2). The bottom line is not creating great lessons; it is creating great lives. Bible study is one part of a group meeting that should include such things as connecting people relationally, breaking bread, worship and prayer time.
- Be stuffed with the Holy Spirit.
All the mechanical preparation is in vain unless the Bible study leader recognizes the power of the Holy Spirit and submits to His supernatural work in our lives. The Bible commands us to "be filled with Spirit." Eph. 5:18b. Are you relying on your ability alone to lead a successful Bible study? How do you show that you value this step more than the others?
Finally, we are admonished to follow the example of the prophet Ezra. "For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel." Ezra 7:10. Notice the process. He studied the Word first. He applied it to his own life and then he taught what he had fleshed out in his own life. What a great example for us to follow!