Principles for Effective Group Home Bible Studies
1. Keep Your Focus
Make sure from the start you have decided as a group what your purpose is, and stick to it. It will be easy to slide into other things and activities if you do not remind each other of why you are meeting. Is it to study, to pray, be accountable, a combination, etc.?
2. Start and Finish on Time
One person in the group should have the responsibility to start the group on time and let everyone know when the time you committed to is up.
3. Focus on People, Not Programs
It will be easy to discuss lots of great subjects and to debate theological issues and never get to the matters of the heart. Start your group with plenty of time for the Bible study group members to get to know one another. Maybe schedule a night to go out and do something socially just to get to know one another.
4. Move Slowly
Men and women do not like to reveal the hurts, pains and frustrations of their lives. It takes time, so move slowly. For vulnerability to happen in your group, start by developing an environment of love and acceptance, not of judgment. In order for accountability to take place, honesty and trust must be in place first.
5. Take the Lead
Vulnerability is caught, not taught. If you are frustrated because no one is sharing, take the initiative yourself and share what is going on in your life. Most men will not share their fears, failures, or feelings because they don’t know how and have never been in a safe environment to do so. Take the lead by example.
6. Body Life
Some of the greatest ministry will take place outside your sessions, when specific needs arise in the lives of the men in your group. Make yourselves available to help in those times of need and feel free to call the others in your group for help.
7. Bible Discussion
When discussing that week’s lesson or a section of Scripture, there are three simple guidelines: wait your turn, stay on the topic, and keep it brief.
The ABC’s of small group prayer are: Audible, so all can hear; Brief, so that you do not take everyone else’s time; and Christ-centered, so as not to spend all your time praying about Aunt Jane’s ingrown toenail. If someone does not feel comfortable praying aloud, make sure he knows he does not have to.
9. Known Killers of Small Bible Study Groups
There are at least six ways to kill your group: aimlessness, poor leadership, the wrong mix of men, shallowness, individualism, and competition. Beware!
10. Include Your Wives
Keep your wives informed of what you are studying. You might want to plan a social event with the wives.
Preparing Your Testimony for Home Bible Studies
1. A testimony should attract people to Jesus Christ so much that they will be motivated to ask you more questions.
2. A testimony should clearly present how a person could become a Christian.
1. Brief – Try condensing your own personal story of coming to faith in Christ into a 3 – 5 minute presentation.
2. Theme – A specific appealing theme should weave its way through your testimony, which will keep you from going on tangents. Here are some examples:
* quest for truth
3. For Christians who trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation as children and cannot remember when they became believers:
* Concentrate on your growth as a Christian, i.e., answer the questions: “How does Jesus Christ make a difference in my life, ethics, business, family relationships, child rearing, etc.?”
* Recount the time(s) in your life when you perhaps realized what Christ had done for you, recommitted your life to Him, or learned something exciting about God and His Son.
4. For Christians who have had a conversion they can specifically point to:
* Explain what your life was like as a non-Christian.
* Tell how you became a Christian.
* Tell of the differences Jesus Christ has made in your life, i.e., what changes have occurred since you made that decision?
5. Simplicity – Reword any terminology that a non-believer would be unfamiliar with.
6. Scripture – Incorporate one verse of Scripture that has been meaningful to you that either relates to your conversion or is in regard to the impact Christ has made on your life. Try to use a verse that will enhance your theme.
7. Memorize it!
8. Practice it and share it with a non-Christian!
Personal Evangelism with Home Bible Study
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9
Jesus made it clear that He came to seek and save the lost. His life was about building relationships with people. If you do a careful study of Jesus, it’s very evident that Jesus was in the “people business,” and the hearts of people were of utmost importance to Him. Jesus was a friend of sinners and spent a great deal of time with them. In fact, there are more than 50 occurrences in the New Testament of Jesus being with those in need of a Savior.
The best thing you can do for somebody is to introduce him to Christ. A clear and consistent life will draw men toward Jesus. Live a sacrificial lifestyle where you put their interests ahead of your own. When you put their interests ahead of yours, people are going to ask why.
Key to getting home Bible studies: Share your life with those around you. Find common ground in the culture, in the news, movies, your families, your neighborhood, your school, or your work. Become a friend to those who are lost by learning to listen. Be an encourager. Ask questions about what they are interested in. Move from your common experiences to questions about personal belief.
This article “Principles for an Effective Group Home Bible Studies” by Ralph Livingston was excerpted from: www.topgunministries.com web site. November 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”