A friend tells of accepting an invitation to attend a Bible study for senior adult women.
“These women represented several churches in our area,” she said. “Being friends for years, we had adult children about the same age. Most of the ladies were grandparents. Needless to say, we were all of retirement age.
“Imagine the surprise when the leader of our Bible study presented us with the selected study course book — focusing on young career mothers with small children.”
Janet Scherer, women’s ministry director at First Baptist Church Kennett, Missouri, plans about three Bible studies a year.
Research and pray
“This is the 15th year for our studies, and we’ve had from 50 to 75 different women attend,” Scherer said. “Most last about six weeks, some longer.”
Scherer understands how important the selection of the book is to those who attend.
“Today, there are so many studies to choose from. Each week I receive dozens of ads in the mail for these books.
“The first approach is to do my research. Then, I pray and pray some more,” Scherer said. “I want it to be a study that our women really need. When I feel this is the book the Lord wants us to use, I present this to the Bible study team that helps in the selection.”
She added many of the studies are video-based.
“This can be good as we learn in multiple ways. Some people are visual learners; others auditory and some” are kinesthetic, Scherer said. “However, most people have two dominant ways to learn.
“But with the video, there is homework. A person will not receive the benefit of the Bible study unless (she) reads the Scriptures and does the homework. Sometimes you just have to dig it out.”
Where do you start?
If you’ve been asked to choose a Bible study curriculum, where do you go? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of study guides on the market. A few years ago, only a handful of publishers provided Bible studies; today, most Christian publishers offer a selection.
Do you follow the advice of another Baptist church that just completed a study? Do you scan the latest Christian publishers’ catalogs? Do you order the most recent book on the market? You might think, “If everyone is buying the book … surely it must be what we need.”
Do you consider options from publishers advertising their books in your state Baptist publication?
After praying about the responsibility, hopefully you’ll choose a book or curriculum that directs people to Jesus. Those who attend should feel the study is worthy of their time. The material should be based on Scripture instead of what the author believes.
These questions will help guide you to make the right decision, evaluate the material and choose wisely.
- Is the material written by an author we’ve used before? Those who write curriculum based on Scripture usually continue in a similar tone. If your group enjoyed the former study, this selection probably will be well received.
- What topics are most relevant to the group? Search study guides by topic. Do you feel your group would benefit from a study on forgiveness? Prayer? Being faithful to God’s Word?
- What books of the Bible would be interesting to study? John, the book of showing love to others, is always a good choice. Others are Hebrews, James and Matthew. By studying a book, participants may receive a wider view of the text than by studying only Scripture related to a topic.
- What are the authors’ beliefs? Research online and ask Baptist leaders and pastors. Are their beliefs in line with your church/denomination?
- Does the guide include historical information or offer sources? Words and phrases change in context over time. Does the guide include commentaries or suggest sources for additional study?
- Does the study require reasonable preparation time? Choose one that is realistic in terms of time to prepare. Depending on your group, you can adjust the speed of the sessions. Does the Bible study apply to life? It’s like the person who goes to a doctor for a medical condition. The doctor prescribes medicine, but the patient never takes it. God’s word is important to our lives.
How to search
Key phrases will save time while searching online or using Amazon. Try phrases such as author’s name; Bible study; individual books, such as Hebrews or Genesis; study guide; individual books, commentary guide; Baptist Bible study; in-depth Bible study; short Bible studies and applicable Bible studies.
Participants should come away with a greater knowledge of Scripture and a growing personal relationship with Jesus.
Tips for creating a teaching environment for Bible study
Preparing and presenting a Bible book study takes prayer, thought and preparation. Use these tips to create a learning and teaching environment:
- Pray the material will touch the lives of the participants.
- Pray God will guide you as you lead the Bible book study.
- Be prepared and know the material.
- Arrange the room in a comfortable and welcoming manner.
- Start and end on time.
- Provide a few minutes for getting acquainted.
- Begin with prayer.
- Become familiar with the technology used in your study.
- Ask for audience participation. Use open-ended questions to promote discussion.
- Engage the senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling) whenever possible.
- Thank those attending and share about the next session.
- Close in prayer.
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