Churches, like everyone else last year, have undergone hardships and a battle to stay open. Many have been pushed to make financial cutbacks. According to LifeWay Research, 8% of churches were forced to delete one of their ministries. This includes 2% that deleted a small group ministry, such as Bible study.
Why is this important for churches? Christianity Daily shared: 57% of churchgoers say they find it challenging to make sense of the Bible when reading on their own. “Reading and studying as an individual is important, but we need others to help us think through what we discover,” said Dwayne McCrary of Explore the Bible. “Studying together also allows us to gain insights from others that move us forward in our study as well.”
This is a crucial ministry provided by churches that allow their members to thrive. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Whether or not you have a Bible study group already, here are some steps to start or revamp your group in 2021:
- Define your purpose. Plenty of groups, started for whatever purpose, quickly lose sight of their goals and become something else, like a social hour. Let everyone know that the reason for this group is to study the Bible together.
- Find the right material. If you get a specific purpose for your group (i.e. marriage and couples), choose material that will supplement that. There are many places online to find Bible study series that will cover different passages related to a single topic. Learn Religious shared their list of 10 Best Study Bibles of 2020. It isn’t enough to just read facts, but instead they need to use it to engage with God.
- Choose the right questions. This is a study after all. Ask questions that facilitate conversation and engage the group. Instead of close-ended questions like “Is adultery a sin?”, ask open-ended questions such as “What does God say about adultery and how does that differ from perceptions today?”. The right questions will make the meeting flow without taking people off topic into story telling.
If you are stuck on getting meeting number one started, consider doing a kickoff event for it. Learn how in our blog Use a Retreat to Jumpstart Something Else.
Maybe your church still isn't meeting in person or some of the people that want to join the group aren't comfortable with being around others. That's okay! Bible study is totally possible in the virtual realm. Schedule your usual time to meet and send everyone involved a Zoom link to join. Then participants and the host can even share documentation/notes on the screen for others to see. It's the same as if you were to use a white board at your in-person study.
A pillar of Christianity is the study of God’s word. This is such an important aspect to one’s faith that churches cannot ignore it as a need of their congregation. The individual learning coupled with the fellowship will strengthen each member, as well as the church as a whole.