Most of us are busy people, juggling work, family, and our church responsibilities. Here is a simple plan I try to follow that helps me prepare to lead a Bible study group using the Explore the Bible resources for leaders.
1. Study the core passage.
I usually start out by reading the core passage to be studied and listing key words, phrases, places, people, and questions I may have.
Then I turn to the Leader Guide commentary to help me define and identify those key words, places, phrases, and people and to help me answer my questions.
Reading the Understand the Context section helps me get a clear picture of how the core passage connects to the whole. I may consult a study Bible and a Bible commentary like the Explore the Bible Adult Commentary (available at lifeway.com/ explorethebible in both print and digital formats) to gain additional insight into the passage.
The last thing I do is write a summary of the truths I discovered, using the statement printed under the session title as a starting place.
TIP: Start preparing early. Life happens, and it tends to happen closer to times we are scheduled to lead a Bible study group. My goal is to have this part of the work done by Monday evening, or even preferably by Sunday before going to bed.
2. Create a group time plan.
I read First Thoughts for the session to identify a direction for the session and why that session is important to today’s adults. Then I review the suggestions included in Lead Group Bible Study. The group plans are a starting place. I supplement, reword, substitute, and enhance the plans, keeping my group in mind.
I may consult QuickSource (available from lifeway.com/explorethebible) and the Explore the Bible blog (blog.lifeway.com/explorethebible/adults/leaderextras) for additional questions and for a different way of starting or closing the group time.
The Explore the Bible Ministry Grid page (ministrygrid.com/web/explorethebible) also can give me additional ideas and insights.
I try to have a group plan finished sometime on Wednesday.
3. Gather my resources.
The list in Gather the Following Items on the first page of each session serves as a starting place. I have a bag that I store all my stuff in. When Sunday arrives, all I have to do is grab the bag and head out the door.
4. Review and refine.
Since I have a working group plan by Wednesday, I can spend the rest of the week refining it and adding notes from my study. One of the last things I do on Saturday night is take a quick look over my notes.
5. Arrive early … beating everyone else.
The group time starts when the first person arrives. I want to make sure I am that person, so I can set the tone and direction for the group Bible study time. That makes it possible for me to greet everyone and focus their attention on the Bible study.
6. Lead the group in a time of Bible study.
I follow my plan, realizing that every group time takes a twist and a turn. I record notes along the way to help me remember how the group responded and questions they asked.
7. Evaluate and record.
I record prayer requests and other insights I gained about the group and specific participants. The questions people ask give me clues as to what may be going on in a person’s life, and I want to remember that for later. Keeping these kinds of notes makes me a better teacher in the future.
8. Start preparing to lead the next group time.