Where do you turn for good material for small group Bible studies? I confess that I have often been frustrated when looking for good Bible study material. Many studies are organized by topic and often take verses out of context, with the result that the main point is something that the study writer wants to say rather than letting Scripture speak for itself. There are some that are inductive studies centered on one main passage, but sometimes they have poorly thought out questions or lack important background information. Few studies are written by anyone with a knowledge of biblical Hebrew and Greek.
What do I look for in a good Bible study guide? Here are some things that come to mind.
- Focus on one main passage so that it can be studied in context
- Questions that cause group members to dig into the text to look for answers rather than merely sharing their own opinion or experience
- Questions that go beyond “what” to uncover the “why” and “how”
- Include any background information essential to understanding the passage without becoming overly academic
- Uncovers the main point of the passage and makes that the focus of the study
- A focus on life application that is based on correct interpretation of the passage
I admit to being picky, but I think that it is important to learn how to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). My solution has been to set up a small team of people who love the Word to help me write the Bible study material for our small groups. Usually each person writes one or two studies each term and sends a draft to the writing team. We give each other feedback and make improvements. Then we gather all the small group Bible study leaders for a monthly pre-study in which we run through the studies for that month. After seeing how the pre-study goes, the writer can make further improvements. Then we send out the final versions to all the study leaders. It’s quite a bit of work, but it allows us to come up with some pretty good studies.
I want to share some thoughts about collaboration between churches in creating Bible study materials, but blog posts are supposed to be short so I will save that for next time. In the meantime, what are your thoughts about looking for good Bible study material?