Whether it's your first time as a Bible study group leader or it seems like you've always been the shepherd for a small flock, these basic tips may help you build a feeling of community and encourage active participation in your next meeting.
1: Be spontaneous
A great way to create a relaxed feeling in your small group Bible study is to break away from regedicted schedules. While you should always try to begin and end the Bible study at its scheduled times, encourage your group members to share their insights and interpretations of the versa being studied, and a lively discussion will follow.
Some Bible study groups have found that having their meetings on weekskats rather than before Sunday services creates a looser, more relaxed environment and a feeling of community. Snacks do not hurt, either.
2: Be aware of language limitations
Words change meanings over a very short period of time, and English is a more fluid language than most. Many words in older Bible translations have changed their meaning since they were translated. Some words in the King James Bible now mean the opposite of what they did at the time of their translation. For example, the word "let" sometimes mean "to refuse or prevent" back in the 1600s.
Supplement your small group Bible study with lexicons and word study books in Hebrew and Greek that focus on the meaning of the original words.
3: Do not exclude other versions of the Bible
There are hundreds of different versions of the Christian Bible published today, from the King James and New International Versions to customized study Bibles geared towards different groups, from children or teenagers to alcoholics or business people. As a small group Bible study leader, you should be aware of the existence of these differences.
With the help of small group study guides, like those from Word Among Us Ministries, and by studying the original Hebrew and Greek meanings and comparing them with the modern translations, you can help your Bible study group gain a better understanding of the scripture.
4: Do not get too far away from the Word
Although study guides and lexicons can be helpful in understanding the meanings of the words in a verse, it is important to use scripture to interpret scripture. If you were interpreting ancient Babylonian texts, you would not use the New York Times or Shakespeare as a reference guide.
Context is everything. Rather than taking a verse of scripture on its own, it is important to encourage your Bible study group to not only read the before-and-after versa, but also to read the verse in the context of the entire paragraph, chapter, book and Bible.
By following these few tips, you can make your Bible study fun and enlightening for everyone.