A few of you may know that I co-led a Bible study over the summer with my friend Hannah. Beforehand, we planned out everything and even emailed a few people for advice. Then we invited all the 9 to 12-year-old girls at our church to come to our houses every other week to study the book of James. Hannah was in charge of the fun stuff (like the pool party!), and I was in charge of the study stuff.
As the summer passed and we gained more experience, I learned A LOT. I learned something new every week we met. Today I’m going to share my tips, which apply to leading Bible studies for young girls, but also may help with teaching a Sunday school class, or maybe even an adult Bible study.
Week #1: For my Bible study, I decided to set aside the first meeting for introduction. Hannah and I shared our testimonies, we did an icebreaker, we watched the James Bible Project video (SIDE NOTE: IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED A BIBLE PROJECT VIDEO BEFORE, GO CHECK THEM OUT!), and studied some background stuff on James.
What I learned: Some girls will be too quiet, and some will be too distracting. This problem is reduced by taking turns talking. At the first meet, four girls showed up, and exactly half were too quiet, and half were too distracting (both were extroverted and sisters of a co-leader). The icebreaker, however, went really well for everyone, because everybody picked a card with a Bible name and meaning and took turns sharing why they chose it. The quiet girls got a chance to talk, and the distracting girls had to talk about a specific subject.
Week #2: Starting the second week, we had a different lady from our church visit each meet to share her testimony. The girls loved hearing the first ladies’ testimony, and every testimony afterward. We also had tea, to make it extra fun. However, the study part of it was rather dull.
What I learned: The goal of a Bible study is to study the Bible. This may seem kind of obvious, but my perspective was a bit skewed. In my youth group Bible studies, I really enjoy the small group time where we split up, boys and girls, and go over discussion questions. So, I wanted my Bible study to be a lot like small group time. I brought a ton of homemade James 1 discussion questions and was set to dive into a deep conversation. But I soon learned that if you try to force people to talk, then you may end up having to do all the talking yourself. Instead, make your focus to study the Bible at your Bible study.
Week #3: The third week might have been one of the best ones of all. One of the factors of its excellence was that the lady who came to share her testimony requested to stay for the whole study, rather than just stopping by. She wasn’t intrusive, yet her presence seemed to keep the distracting girls from goofing off so much. The other factor was that I put together a James 2 study booklet for all the girls to fill out.
What I learned: Booklets are very handy! I made a three-page worksheet booklet and printed and stapled one per girl plus an answer guide for me. Then I split the girls into teams and they searched for the answers for the fill-in-the-blanks in their Bibles. This really helped! The booklets were so much better and even easier than discussion questions! If you make your study time interactive and focused on the Word of God, you will do well! (Let me know if you’d like to see my especially-geared-for-youth-homemade-James-study-guides for reference, or even if you’d like to steal them for your own Bible study.) 😉
Next week, I will share about the other three weeks, but for now, I’ll end with a few bonus tips.
Bonus Tip #1: Schedule enough meetings for your Bible study so that the first one can be all introduction. Go over the author, context, themes, when, and where of the book you are starting. And don’t forget to watch its Bible Project video!
Bonus Tip #2: Invite guest speakers. This might sound over-the-top, but if you invite people from your church to share their testimonies, for one, you won’t have to do all the teaching. It’ll also be very encouraging for the people in your Bible study, I’m sure. My church has a Google Group for the women members, so all I had to do was put up a “wanted ad”, wait for ladies to volunteer, and schedule who goes to what Bible study.
Bonus Tip #3: Send out some emails to experienced Bible study leaders and ask for advice! I sent out several questions to the leaders of Bible studies I’ve been in, and their advice helped me a lot as I got started.
Starting a Bible study is an excellent way to minister to younger people. I know that the Bible studies I’ve been in have spiritually helped me a lot. I would highly recommend that you grab a friend and start your own!