Practical tips AND resources for how to lead a women’s Bible study in your home or church.
HOW TO LEAD A WOMEN’S SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDY IN YOUR HOME
Every Tuesday night 30 college-age women made their way across campus to the teeny tiny apartment of one of our staff members.
There we were greeted with the warm smells of home and a motherly smile.
The cold of Northeast Pennsylvania was brushed off as we moved past each other in search of a seat on the floor. We heaped dessert plates full of all kinds of tasty treats and gushed about how our week was going thus far.
As I think back now on how silly those conversations must have seemed to a woman with grown children, already out of college, I’m amazed by how genuinely interested and engrossed she was. This woman wanted to know us, whatever came with that.
When the time came for her to open the Word, she did so with genuine enthusiasm. She gave us notes at the beginning of the study that she had spent months typing up and editing. We followed along and hung onto her every word.
We were Bible college students who spent all of our time studying Scripture and memorizing facts. Yet, we were drawn to this woman and her living room floor.
We were drawn by the food, that’s true of any college student. But, more than that, we were drawn by the fact that before us we saw a living, breathing example of what we were spending our lives studying.
The Word was alive in Mrs. Morris and, because of that, we wanted to be close to her. We knew she had been following Christ for a long time and when we looked into our futures, that is what we wanted to see.
We were following her as she was following Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
After 2 years in her home, I left college with one of the strongest impressions I had ever seen of a Christian woman and I have spent the last decade with a thankful heart for the time we spent together those Tuesday nights.
To read more about Mrs. Morris’ impact on my life, check out this post.
How to Start & Facilitate a Women’s Bible Study in Your Home
Women studying the Bible together matters. It matters because the Word is the only real food for our souls AND it matters because it gives us opportunities to see the Word active in the lives of other believers that we wouldn’t otherwise get to witness.
Since I left that little apartment’s living room floor, I’ve lead and attended a whole host of Bible studies. I’ve got a lot of learning before anyone will call me Mrs. M but I’m grateful for the lessons along the way. I’ve learned a few, primary rules:
- Biblical literacy is a crucial component of the Christian life.
- The Spirit Uses his Word to produce faith (spend your time in it!)
- Keep it Simple (don’t put a lot of extra, unnecessary pressure on yourself)
- Consider getting a co-leader
- Remove distractions
Biblical literacy is a crucial component of the Christian life.
Studying the Bible is critical for men, women, and children. The Word is the food we need for growing up in holiness and Christlikeness. This is how we get to know our Savior and how he speaks to us.
Biblical literacy is best produced in the context of community. Other believers who’re also studying a passage can offer varying perspectives. Older believers can share their insights from a lengthy walk with Christ and provide context for how this particular passage fits into the overarching story of Scripture. All believers can help one another adorn the gospel with consistent lives.
We must study the Word on our own, in the privacy of our homes. However, we must also study it together. Women’s Bible studies are beautiful opportunities for mutual encouragement and discipleship.
Men and women are different. We were created differently and, though equal in every way, we are unique.
There are unique things about a woman’s walk through this world. While women have diverse backgrounds, occupations, and life experiences, we all walk as women.
There are struggles and joys and challenges that our male counterparts, trying as they may, will never understand completely.
The Body of Christ needs the unique offering both men and women bring. The Church must be filled with both men and women who are Biblically literate, wise, and actively pursuing Christ.
The reason women’s Bible studies are important is that through them we see women who walk through this world as we do care about Scripture and its application to their lives. The opportunities for discipleship, friendship, and burden bearing are endless as women gather around the table to feast on God’s Word.
Related: The Labor of Loving the Word
God’s Uses His Word to Produce Faith
Whether we are dealing with Christians or those who don’t walk with Christ, we know that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Time in the Word, getting to know Christ is always the answer whether it is a question of salvation or sanctification.
Because this is true, leading a women’s Bible study MUST be about time spent in the Word.
I love a good craft night (though I’m admittedly bad at them) or gathering to share life stories. These can be fun, entertaining, and genuinely joyful. However, they’re not Bible studies. Though we can share our stories as we work through pieces of the Text where they’re applicable, the main point of a Bible study isn’t our life story. The main point of a Bible study is to study the Bible.
Finding resources that aid us on this journey can be difficult which is why I’ve included a list of great options at the bottom of this post!
Keep reading to see some of my favorite Bible study aids and remember, it isn’t a Bible study unless the time is spent studying the Bible. Have confidence in the Spirit to use his Word to work in the lives of his people!
Keep Your Women’s Bible Study Simple
If you enjoy cooking, there is no reason why you can’t provide a treat during Bible study (I have typically done this every week because it is the example I had in college and my entire life with my mom), however, it is not necessary.
Coming to a Bible study is about coming for spiritual food and that’s all that’s necessary.
My plan was always a simple treat each week (a plate of cookies, a tray of muffins, etc) and a large party style meal for the last gathering of the study. While this was so much fun for everyone, it was also added stress for me.
If you love to cook and want to bless the women of your group, feel free to lavish them with homemade treats.
If you aren’t sure about that, feel free to keep it simple and not bring food. The study I am currently attending does not have food. Occasionally someone will bring a plate of cookies or fresh bread from a bakery or a bag of chocolates but it is not expected, organized, or required.
If the thought of no food gives you a little anxiety (I’m a Baptist – we’re kind of known for this kind of thing) but you think making something each week would add too much burden to you – make a schedule. Ask the sisters who gather to choose a week where they will provide the snack and just remind them at the study before what they agreed to.
You don’t need to plan elaborate meals or amazing, ever-changing decor.
Keep it simple and, against your instincts, do this from the start. It is a whole lot easier to start with no food and bring an occasional treat than it is to set the expectation of something and then later not be able to deliver.
Put your time primarily into studying the Word. Use whatever additional time you have as you feel best, but don’t get pressured into a fancy idea of what you think it needs to be.
Consider Getting a Co-Leader
I’m ashamed to say I’ve never asked anyone to help me lead a women’s Bible study before.
HOWEVER, I do have one sweet friend that was my right hand for everything! She came over before Bible study to help me prep food, assemble the end of study gifts I gave out (not necessary but one of the added things I took from my time with Mrs. M), and just plain encourage me.
This dear one gave me the gift of laughter and saved my sanity on more than one occasion.
Now, however, having seen Bible studies that have multiple co-leaders, I think this is a great way to go!
One person can host while someone else facilitates the study or one person can make sure the room is set up while the other makes sure everyone has been contacted. However, you choose to break up responsibilities, having a co-leader ensures that you have someone else who is working toward the same goal with the same heart and that is a blessing.
Distraction comes in a lot of forms – not enough seating, background noise, no real plan or flow for the evening (just to name a few).
Sometimes there is nothing we can do about this and I LOVE to see a room so full there aren’t enough seats for everyone.
As an aid to good study though, it is a good habit to try to remove as many distractions as possible. Turn down the music, shuffle the kids from the room, make a plan for when you will start, how long things will take, and how you will conclude.
Some distractions you won’t even know about until you come upon them so just approach this with humility. You won’t have everything figured out. Embrace that and step out in faith (more on that in a bit).
What else would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Resources for Leading a Women’s Bible Study in Your Home
As we talked about, the MOST important element of leading a women’s Bible study is the resources you choose. I believe that the best way to work your way through a book of the Bible is to use the inductive method.
So today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Bible study resources which focus on the inductive method. As I explore new resources, this list will be updated.
These resources are specific to Bible study. I am an avid reader and LOVE to read books outside Scripture but here you will find very few of those resources. This is not because these resources don’t have value but because these are not useful for what I would call “Bible study”. That said, the few that I have included also come with an explanation as to why they are listed here.
I’ve done many studies beyond these but these have been my favorites for varying reasons.
This is also a great study for believers who are young in their faith and there’s something just about everyone can get from it.
Set up with 5 days of homework, a leader’s guide for facilitating conversation, and video teaching for each lesson, this is a simple framework that is very easy to facilitate.
However, that is where the ease ends. Jen Wilkin has set up a thorough study of the Word and it does take time. This was the only complaint I received from this study.
Studying the Word is worth the effort and, down the road, you certainly won’t regret the time spent learning from Scripture. You do need to be ready for a time commitment to get the most out of this study, however.
There are a few questions for each section and the homework doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time. Each chapter is supposed to take one week, however, they’re not broken up into days.
I appreciate specifically the teaching that is included in each study. Brief and true to Scripture, these are supposed to draw our hearts to think about how each passage relates to the gospel and the whole narrative of the Bible.
Keri’s studies are broken into 5-day segments each week that I found deep enough to dig in but also easy enough to make progress enjoyable.
For group study, it would be easy to pick out one or two questions from each day to begin the conversation.
Books that can be included in a women’s Bible study
I mentioned earlier that I believe book studies are fantastic but that Bible studies should be left pretty much to studying the Bible. Each of these books has a specific reason why I chose to include it in this list which you will see:
Practical Theology for Women In this simple guide, Wendy Alsup has broken down main points of doctrine into approachable, easily understood concepts that are perfect for the new believer OR those seasoned in the faith.
I led a group of women through this book and it led to many great conversations!
This is a great place to start if you are working with young believers or those who may not have much experience with really studying doctrine.
For too many, especially women, reading our Bibles has been only about what we can get out of it to get us through the day rather than about building a robust understanding of Scripture that can weather the storms life throws at us.
To be sure, Scripture has much that’s helpful for our day to day walks but it is also a rich, full book that’s meant to be understood as such.
Wendy does a beautiful job of taking what can seem like big, abstract concepts in Scripture, explaining them and then helping us answer the question of how we should live in light of these truths.
Most women’s studies would do well to consider this as a part of their Bible study curriculum.
This simple book is an explanation of why studying the Bible matters (specifically for women but applicable to all) and how to go about doing that study well.
If you are working with a women’s group that has new believers or just several believers who haven’t been taught how to study the Word, this is a great place to start!
Sometimes we assume that we know how to study the Bible properly because we are Christians. Other times we assume we should know how to study the Bible properly because we are Christians so we are afraid to ask for help.
Neither of those are assumptions we should make, however. Studying Scripture is an art and a science. It’s a skill and it’s not one that is automatic upon our conversion.
I’m sure there’re a lot of reasons the Lord chose to make it this way, however, I think one of the primary reasons has to do with discipleship. As we read a Text, are confused by it, and bring our questions and concerns to an older brother or sister in the faith, we have the chance to build relationships, cultivate community, and obey more of the commands of Scripture.
Through this small book, Jen Wilkin provides a blueprint for how to study the Bible.
If you are beginning a study and aren’t sure where the women are with their Biblical literacy, this is a great place to start!
The second edition even comes with study questions perfect for a women’s Bible study group!
What do you really need to lead a women’s Bible study?
There is no specific framework for leading or facilitating a women’s Bible study. There are very few hard and fast rules. You don’t need food or crafts or oodles of sentimentality.
All you need is a group of women, the Word, and the Spirit.