How to Lead a Women's Small Group Bible Study in Your Home - Sarah Mae
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How to Lead a Women’s Small Group Bible Study in Your Home

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I know you’re busy.

Me too.

It’s been years since I facilitated a woman’s small group in my home. When I became pregnant with Caroline, I was tired and sick and didn’t want to have a small group in my home anymore (and I didn’t even want to go to one). I figured I could just pick it back up when I regained sanity and a got Care into a good sleep routine. Alas, things didn’t ever get back to the way they were. I never got over being tired, bedtimes became later at night, and I had no margin for one more thing. I had started to write, and that was my outlet; I felt like I needed it, so it was the only thing I made time for outside of my family. The problem was, I didn’t have any friends, and I thought I was fine. But you know, women need each other, and I had grown used to thinking I didn’t need anyone. I had convinced myself I was a loner.

This past winter I took a baby step and joined a woman’s bible study group at church. It was good, but it was in the church sanctuary and therefore lacked the intimate, inviting setting that {I think} only a home can provide. I love curling up on a chair or a couch with a some hot coffee in my hand and settling in for a good discussion. I miss having a women’s small group in my home.

I think it’s time to begin again.

If you’re thinking about starting a small group in your home, but aren’t sure how or where to begin, here’s a peek at what I’ve done (and plan to do)…

How to Start & Facilitate a Women’s Small Group in Your Home

Choosing to “Facilitate”

Notice that I used the word “facilitate” instead of lead. I say that because leading a study can feel intimidating, but facilitating one is just making a space where a study can happen; it’s being willing to get the ball rolling. As a facilitator my goal is to bring women together with a plan and to help (not dominate) the flow of the study and the evening. I’m making room for discussion to flourish by offering a warm, safe, and comfortable environment for women bring dark to light.

Figure Out What Kind of Study You Want to Facilitate

Do you want to read a book of the Bible, study a book, follow a Bible study guide, or have a topical study (one topic over a period of weeks, or a different topic each week)? It’s important to think through your limitations and count the cost before jumping in; pick something you know you can do with the time you have (this is so important so you can complete the study!).

Studies:

Reading a Book of the Bible: Pick a book and read through it together. Know what chapters you’ll be covering so everyone can read up, and then discuss it. This method is great for reaching out to your neighbors, those interested in learning more about the Bible, or new believers.

Use a Specific Method for Studying the Bible: One of my favorite ways to study the Bible in a group is by using the Inductive Bible study method. It is time consuming, but the insights you gain from the deeper study can be life-altering.

Use a Bible Study Guide: You can find Bible study guides anywhere. Beth Moore has a ton, and there is study for just about anything you could want to delve into. I usually do not like Bible study guides because the questions are obvious and the study can get boring real quick. However, there are some good ones out there (such as Beth Moore studies). Just make sure you leaf through it to make sure it has depth.

Discuss a Topic: You can do this by picking different topics for each week where you come prepared with your own thoughts, research, and scripture on the topic, or you can pick one topic to study the whole time, such as “marriage.” You can do your own research, or find a study guide to help you.

Read a Book: Sometimes it’s nice to just do a book club with other women. Get a hold of one of your favorites or one you’ve never read, and dig in together! If you’re doing a mom’s group, well, you know I recommend Desperate. 😉

Make a List of Women You’d Like to Invite

Think about the women around you that you think you would like to meet with over the course of several weeks. Do you just want some laid back girl-time with your dear friends, where you can talk super openly and have discussions late into the night? Or maybe you’d like to invite some women from your neighborhood or work or children’s school, and get to know them. Who is in your Oikos (those who God has placed around you)?

This time around for me, I’m going to invite some women from my neighborhood to study a book of the Bible together. I’m looking forward to deepening relationships that have begun, and watching to see how God’s Spirit moves during the several weeks we spend with one another.

Prepare for the Group

Depending on what kind of study you choose will dictate how much you need to prepare. You also need to figure out if your study will meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly (this depends again on what kind of study you’re doing and what your limitations are). As a homeschooling mom of three fairly little ones, I’m going to be doing the least amount of prep possible. I will read the chapter of the book we’re studying, write out a few questions or look some up, and that’s it. Do what you can with what you have.

Prepare the Environment

This is the fun part! Even if you don’t like to clean (hello, me), and you aren’t any good at decorating (hello, me again), you can still create a warm and intimate atmosphere where women feel comfortable and loved. It’s the little things, truly! Have a snack, some tea and/or coffee made, and have the living room picked up and comfy pillows around, and a candle or two lit. Let women know they can make themselves at home; let them know they can really settle in (naturally, this will take time).

Set Some Ground Rules

It’s a really good idea to have some ground rules ready to share. Here are the ones I use:

  • This is a safe, grace-filled place. Nothing said here gets shared with anyone else.
  • If you are an extrovert and have lot’s to say (that’s good, God made you that way!), keep in mind the quieter women of the group and give them time and space to share (rule of thumb for me as a facilitator is to count to 30 before answering – you could always pull your talkers aside privately and ask them to try that little trick as well)
  • If you disagree, do it kindly – we’re all on a journey figuring things out, and we’re all in different places with different histories and wounds, so be easy with each other (Life is hard, be kind)
  • Please try and be on time, and if you can’t make it, just call and let me know

What would you add?

Relax and Enjoy Learning/Discussing with Friends

Women like to talk, and if they feel safe, they’ll talk even more. Relax and let the night unfold! Have fun, think deeply (if you’re not sleep deprived with little ones), and enjoy the work that God is doing!

Bible Study Resources:

Studying Scripture Inductively 

How to Study a Book of the Bible

Printable for Doing a Topical Study

8 Questions to Ask Before You Choose a Bible Study Guide

Understanding Follow-Up of the New Believer

Desperate Small Group Guide for Moms

Keep on! -SM

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  • http://twitter.com/TheMaryBonner Mary Bonner

    Oh, Sarah Mae, I think you wrote this just for me!! I’ve been contemplating opening my home to a small group and have been praying about how and what to do. Thank you for these helpful insights. I’ve done a lot of public speaking, that does t bother me…opening my home and facilitating a study seems a bit more intimidating.

  • http://littlebitthisnthat.blogspot.com/ Jen @ Little Bit This n That

    Love this! Thank you for all the great information.

  • Katie

    Thank you for this! Hopefully and prayerfully I’ll get to make use of it soon 🙂

  • SueO

    Thanks for this article Sarah…I’ve been considering that very thing and you have
    given some great pointers!

  • http://twitter.com/TrinaHolden Trina Holden

    yup, yup, yup–I agree with everything you said! I started a small group with Desperate when it came out in January. Been the best thing that’s happened to my motherhood in a long time. And the other 8 women would agree. We’re all in the season of lots of littles and little sleep, but Wednesdays have become sacred to us…we don’t miss our get togethers for anything…

  • http://joyceandnorm.wordpress.com/ Joyce (and Norm)

    This is great! God is truly stretching me this year in growing His community.

  • Marie

    Simply bit wonderfully said. Love the pointers and the use of facilitator instead of leading 🙂
    I’ve been wanting to do this for some time but had the same thoughts: I have kids and when will it ever be a good time? But I believe time can be made it just has to be diligent and set into routine.
    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  • Tina

    I realize this is an old post. The Navigators resources are now unavailable. Do you have any others you recommend?

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