Why I thought I couldn’t start a Bible Study
Why I thought I couldn’t start a Bible Study
There are so many things that can cause our spirits pause when we think about starting a Neighborhood Bible Study. For me, it wasn’t any different. I may be a pastor’s wife, but I certainly don’t have the seminary training my husband has nor his gift of teaching. Fear was at the root of most of those reasons.
In the next several blogs, I would like to share some of the obstacles God helped me overcome before, and as, I started my first Neighborhood Bible Study. This week we are tackling the subject I think keeps most people from starting a bible study.
I can’t teach!
No doubt there are more than a few of you reading this blog who feel they are NOT a Bible teacher.
Well I was no different! The “What if” questions loomed in my head. What if I don’t have the answers to all the questions that come up? What if the women get into a debate? What if they are from different churches and have differing beliefs? What if. . .? You fill in the blank.
This is one thing that caused me personally the greatest stress in starting my Bible study. I wasn’t sure what the women’s expectations would be.
So, here’s what I did. This might work for you too!
Find a Bible Study with resources:
There is a plethora of Bible studies available with wonderful teaching videos of people who teach really well. There was no need for me, the amateur, to feel the burden or the need to teach. You can head to your favorite Christian bookstore, or simply get online to find them.
You just need to be a facilitator not the teacher:
I became a facilitator instead of the teacher. In our very first meeting, I explained to the ladies, that I didn’t plan on teaching, but that we were all there to learn from each other. We simply would study the Bible along with a study guide, then come and share with each other what God was teaching each of us. We shared things we discovered or had never understood before, or how a particular question or verse touched us and why. The questions in the study guide pretty much led us through our discussion time.
Just an aside, for those of you who like to teach; a small group Bible study very seldom lends itself to that. Small groups, in my estimation, are best when kept to self-discovery and discovery in community. There have been more than a few Bible studies I have been involved with that have been disbanded because the leader consumed most of the talking time trying to teach. For the most part, the leader of a small group doesn’t need to talk any more than anyone else in the group. As the leader of the group, it is your job to keep the discussion moving and make sure that
no one person takes over all the sharing time either. Everyone needs an opportunity to share.
Let the study guide lead the discussion
Use the questions in the study guide to lead the discussion. If people have filled in answers to the questions in their study guide and they don’t get to share anything they have written, they may quit preparing for the group. Feel free to share your answers first, however, to get the discussion going.
What if someone asks a question and no one has the answer for it?
This bothered me more than you can imagine. If someone asks a question that no one has the answer for, you can do several things. First of all, say, “That is a good question. I haven’t studied that myself, but I will see if I can find an answer by our next gathering.” Between sessions, you can try to find the answer from a trusted source, or you can encourage them to ask their pastor, or someone they know. Encourage them to bring what they discovered back to the group.
Secondly, if it is one of those questions that even theologians still can’t agree on, an appropriate answer might be “Well even the experts can’t agree on this. This is where faith comes in and we must trust that an all-knowing God knows best. We don’t always have all the details. He has it all under control.”
Thirdly, if their question has something to do with not understanding God’s character, you can simply tell them, “Our God is kind and compassionate, but He is also just. We must trust that what He did, while it doesn’t seem right to us from our earthly perspective, from God’s perspective it is fair and most likely this judgement has been a long time in coming. We cannot make God fit our theology. We need to accept the God who is – not the God we want.”
This leads me to my fifth and final point however,
Don’t let silence scare you.
This was a hard one for me. The tendency is whenever there is a lull in the discussion to fill the silence. Begin to think of silence as the time people are thinking about their answer, or formulating how they will share their answer, or maybe even as the time the Holy Spirit is moving in someone instilling the courage they need to share something deeply personal. In the silence you may find that a shy person will finally speak out because they typically have a hard time breaking into the discussion. I had to learn not to rush through those times. I am reminded of Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. Give God a chance to move through the silence.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
Don’t miss the blessings of starting a Bible study because you feel you can’t teach. If that is true of you, I would encourage you all the more to step out in faith, knowing that God can and will work through you. Be truthful with your group. They’ll
appreciate more than anything your honest, humble spirit, and your willingness to gather them together and encourage them in their personal spiritual journey.
This week we tackled the “What ifs. . .” that can keep us from stepping into a Neighborhood Bible Study. Next, we’ll wrestle with the “Buts” that can suppress our desire to take this journey.