We’ve all been there. We launch a discussion question and hear … silence. Is it possible to go from a “nontalkative” group to one where many people contribute during the Bible study time? It’s not always easy, but it is possible! With time and intentional effort, you can increase the level of engagement of your group members in your Bible study.
Here are three ways to increase participation each week.
Invite someone in your group to lead your group’s prayer time. This person can be responsible for gathering prayer requests, recording them, and then leading the prayer time. Each week, this person can follow up on requests from previous weeks. This may seem like a small task, but it can involve up to four people (invite 4 people and assign weeks of the month).
Don’t underestimate the power of a great discussion question! Make it your goal to cultivate an atmosphere where discussion is expected and encouraged. This can take time, so don’t give up. The benefits of group discussion are worth it! Questions help participants gain a deeper understanding of a topic and present opportunities for group members to share their experiences. If you hear silence after you ask a question, resist the urge to answer it yourself after only a few seconds. Wait it out for a while. If necessary, reword the question, but don’t answer it yourself. This communicates that you value and expect group members to contribute.
Our personal faith stories are compelling. Occasionally, ask a group member to share a brief testimony that relates to what is being studied. A brief 2-3 minute story is all that’s needed. When someone shares how they have trusted God to carry them through a difficult season of life, for example, it highlights the truth that what you study together each week is personal. This practice also strengthens relationships within your group, demonstrating the truth that we are the body of Christ and learn from each other.
If your group time is mostly comprised of you doing all the talking, it’s time to consider how to engage your group members! Incorporating others to lead the prayer time, cultivating a discussion culture, and weaving personal testimonies into your Bible study will bring fresh energy to your group. And those awkward silences will be a thing of the past.