Seven Guidelines for Starting a Home Bible Study Ministry in the Local Church
1. Find a coordinator for the Home Bible Study (HBS) ministry
A Coordinator may be someone already on your leadership team. This person needs to be strong in the area of administration. He or she will be responsible for recruiting and training leaders, conducting in-service meetings for the leaders, and helping the leaders to enlist men for their group. Do not start until you find the coordinator. Remember the principle that nothing gets done without leadership.
2. Determine your strategy and philosophy of your Home Bible Study ministry
As a leadership team, you have a lot of decisions to make regarding what types of groups you will have. There are three levels of home Bible study.
* Entry Level – low commitment, show up for a couple of weeks. Teach one or more studies. This level could lead into a medium level group.
* Medium Level – This is your normal home Bible study teacher. They are willing to meet one to one and a half-hour per week with an interested student to study the Bible together, pray and support one another.
* High Level – These high commitment individuals would serve the purpose of training and equipping Bible study teachers. An example of this high level commitment would be to teach a Basic HBS Training Group
Other decisions that your leadership team will need to make:
* Who is going to care for the HBS leaders?
* What type of HBS’s will we have?
* How are we going to train the HBS teachers?
* What will out criteria be for recruiting ministry leaders?
* Will the studies be open, closed, or both?
Successful home Bible study begins with leaders who model genuine Christ like relationships.
3. Recruit Home Bible Study teachers
The leadership team or the coordinator will be responsible for recruiting HBS teachers. Look for men and women with godly character, Christ-likeness, competency, compassions, and a commitment to making disciples who see their role as facilitator rather than just a teacher. The best HBS leaders are those that have experienced a healthy small group. Look in your existing home Bible study for recommendations from existing leaders. Provide a complete job description for the potential HBS leader: What he or she will be doing; how much time is requires; what type of support he will receive; and to whom he is responsible. Don’t worry about numbers. Prefer fewer groups that will go well over many groups led by men not prepared or able to lead.
4. Train the Home Bible Study teachers
The best way to train new teachers is to give them a healthy HBS experience. If you have never taught a home Bible study before, you may want to lead a study group first to give your small group a good experience. Then, let them start their own groups. If you already have HBS groups, ask the leaders of the existing groups who they think would be good leaders and pull them out. We do our training on three consecutive Monday evenings. Provide training in the areas of Small Group Dynamics:
* How to start a small HBS group
* How to lead HBS discussion
* How to lead a HBS sharing time
* How to handle difficult questions
* How to study the Word and develop good questions
5. Begin to Publicize the Home Bible Study
Often times the home Bible study ministry can be the best kept secret in the church. Be creative in how you get the word out. Here are a few possibilities:
* Ask the pastor to promote the HBS groups from the pulpit
* Ask the pastor if there can be a testimony from up front
* A mailing to all the men and women in the church with a list of potential groups starting up.
* The church bulletin
* Personal invite from the leaders – have them make a list and begin to pray for men to invite to their HBS groups. This will be the best way
* Informational meeting between services
Never ask a man or woman to do anything unless you are willing to train him or her.
Each person needs a brother to support, encourage, and hold him accountable to a Christian model of servanthood.
6. Create windows for HBS group start ups
As mentioned early in the series; you always want to use an activity or event as a bridge to the next level. After a retreat, kick –off event, or seminar, offer sign-ups for one or more small HBS group options. They should be full HBS, for to six to twelve weeks in length, using a book or material that follows up on what was talked about. Strike when the iron is hot!
7. Provide shepherding for the HBS teachers
Never ask a man or woman to do something without providing the support that he or she needs. It may start with the coordinator shepherding the groups, if there are less than five groups. After that, they will need to get the others to help. Have in-service meetings a few times a year for the HBS teachers to share how things are going in the HBS groups, and for continued training and prayer.
* Who might be some potential small group leaders
* When and how are we going to train these leaders
* What are some ways we can publicize the group
* How are we going to care for our small HBS group leaders
This article “Seven Guidelines for Starting a Home Bible Study Ministry in the Local Church” by Don Fielder was excerpted from: www.smallgroupleader.com web site. October 2009. 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.”