I’m not much of a handyman.
When something breaks at our house, my first instinct is to call in a professional who knows what he’s doing. What I have discovered (several hundreds of dollars in service bills later) is that a lot of the time, the only thing stopping me from doing the repair job myself is having the right tools. The correct wrench and socket set can save a lot of pain, time and money down the road.
The same principle is true when it comes to leading a successful Bible study with your small group. Having the right tools available can open a conversation around God’s Word that will eventually lead to discipleship. You don’t need seminary training to lead a great Bible study. All you need is some planning and a few tools.
The first thing a group leader needs to do is plan ahead. Even if the Bible study is pre-written, you need to know where the finish line of the discussion should be so the members in the group can get there together. Otherwise, you will get off course and spend the night chasing conversation rabbit trails.
Know the material and always bring the discussion back to the center of God’s Word.
If you are preparing the Bible study from scratch, there are great tools available to help the group encounter God’s Word in a deep and meaningful way:
1. Smallgroup.com is an online library of discussion-driven and video-enhanced studies that you can customize for your small group to have a consistent and transformational discipleship experience. I used Smallgroup.com to build all of the sermon-based studies at my church. It’s a great place to start for any group looking for an engaging way to study the Bible.
2. Bible commentaries are written by well-known and popular theologians, and aid in the study of Scripture by providing explanation and interpretation of Biblical text. Three commentaries the LifeWay custom content team use to write studies are:
3. Bible concordances help to locate important Bible references by indexing every verse that contains a particular word. This will help you assemble a list of Bible references on almost any topic.
During the Meeting
If you have planned ahead and know where the conversation needs to land, then you are ready to lead a formative discussion around the topic. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do:
4. Silence is your friend. A good leader should only be talking around 30 percent of the time. Remember that you have read the questions ahead of time. It will take everyone else a few moments to process the material before they are ready to answer.
5. Focus is key. A few rabbit trails are OK, but you want to always keep steering the conversation back toward the finish line.
6. God’s Word is the answer. You always want to land on the truth of God’s Word, so it’s OK to say, “I don’t know the answer to that question right now, but I will ask someone and report back next week.”
Most life-change opportunities will occur outside of the normal meeting times, so it’s important for the group to stay connected throughout the week. Here are a few tools that can help keep the group on the same page:
7. Email prayer lists help keep needs in front of group members during the week.
8. Private Facebook pages are great for keeping the conversation going between meetings. You can also plan social events and missional opportunities on the page.
9. Group texting apps like GroupMe, are helpful for sending immediate needs and last minute meeting changes to everyone.
With a few tools and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you are ready for an amazing Bible study experience.
This article originally appeared here.