How to plan a Bible study

If I’m really honest, the idea of a Bible study can sometimes sound quite boring.

For me it can evoke ideas of sitting on an uncomfortable pew, in an old cold church and either not knowing what to say about a passage, or listening to others and forgetting what they said 10 minutes later. Unfortunately, this might be the experience for a lot of people, but the GOOD NEWS is that it doesn’t need to be this way!

A study of the Bible, the word of God, can be thrilling and adventurous! It doesn't need to be boring!! 

A Bible study can sometimes feel overwhelming to plan. As student workers, or student leaders, we can feel like it is our duty and responsibility to teach students everything they need to know about the Bible. Before we even get started we’re trying to work out how we can teach them the whole Bible within the academic year!! What we need to remember is that we are NOT responsible for the faith journeys of our students. We need to take that pressure off straight away. It is God, and the power of the Holy Spirit who will transform the lives of our students. Our role is to firstly love God ourselves, and then point students towards Jesus and love them in the process. Once we’ve taken that weight off our shoulders, we can then think about where to start. A helpful structure could be to: 

Pray, read and discover. 

Pray - What is God saying to you at the moment? What is he doing in the lives of the students in your small group? Are you sensing a particular topic could be helpful for the students in your small group? If God is speaking to you about something in particular, then the chances are, he is probably speaking to others about it too. 

Read - Get started and open your Bible. I’d suggest doing it with a physical Bible. I think when we read a physical Bible it can helpfully remind us that whatever we are reading sits within the wider context of the whole Bible, and therefore that it sits within the story of Jesus. If you’re not sure where to start, the gospels can be a helpful starting point. 

Discover - Okay, you’ve picked your verse(s), you might want to just spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what the text is saying and allow that to lead the study. Or perhaps you would find it helpful to have some additional input. Both the Bible Project and Bible for Life offer some fantastic videos and guides for how to make sense of the Bible.

Seeing, hearing and doing. 

Whilst most of our bible studies are spent listening to others, studies show that when we learn through hearing we have a 20% retention rate. If we are able to see something, this increases to 40%. The most effective way of learning is by doing, which has 80% retention. 

In Small Groups, Big Mission (a book produced by Fusion with so many helpful ideas), you can find lots of ideas for how to lead a bible study that is interactive. Some of my favourite ideas include: role plays, storytelling, and quizzes. 

However you plan to do your bible study, remember to have time for prayer. We want to practice the way of Jesus and allow Scripture to impact our lives. In praying for each other we recognise that it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring that transformation. 

Emma Pickersgill

Student Mission Coach

Emma is passionate about training, equipping and investing in student ministry for the sake of the Kingdom. She's excited to see students discover the transformative love of Jesus and step further into their calling.

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