Isn't it funny, my lovely readers, how little of my real life actually makes it into my blog? Sometimes that's because life is messy, and bloggers are notorious for avoiding sharing their messy reality online. (Although sometimes, life's messes don't need to be shared online. There's a fine line between being authentic and being a complainer/gossip/busybody/fill-in-the-blank.) Sometimes, life is just boring.
There's the one that's usually my problem... sometimes, we bloggers just forget. We forget to take photos while trying a recipe, or we forget about that big party last month, or we forget about all the cool real-life people we hang out with that the followers would just love to read about!
(Or our cameras break and our blog posting options are suddenly limited because a post without photos just isn't as good.)
Anyway, today I have a post based off a big part of my summer this year - Bible study!
Even before I went to summer camp, I was planning to lead a Bible study for middle school girls at my church this summer. Then, with everything that happened at camp, teaching the study was the perfect way for me to jump into my new reality as a missionary-to-be!
While I'd love to take this post and share my Bible study group with you, my lack of camera doesn't really allow for that. So instead, let's look at how to start and teach your own Bible study - for any group!
Part One: How to Start a Bible Study
1. Get the A-okay. If you want to invite people from your church or even use the church building to meet, you'll need to get clearance from your pastor. This may have to come after you know when you'll be meeting and what you'll be studying, but it's always good to keep people in the loop early on. Make sure to check back with him frequently as you plan.
2. Choose a book (or curriculum). For my study, I'm using The Girl in the Mirror by Michelle Gardner. Other books I'd recommend include anything by Elizabeth George (girls, teen girls, women), by Jim George (boys, teen boys, men), or sold at the Wilds (link is for teens but they have adult books too). Of course, this doesn't even scratch the surface of what's out there - check out the Bible Study section of Christian Book Distributors! Note: I once considered just writing my own lesson each week and working through a certain chapter or book of the Bible. I may return to that idea in the future, but I can tell you - don't try this as a newbie! You'll just end up frustrated, confused, and searching online for a book by someone a bit more experienced to help you.
3. Test the waters. Via Facebook, email, text, or whatever else works for you, talk to people in your target group (for me, middle school girls) and see if they'd be interested. If you're working with kids or teens like me, make sure you talk to the parents too.
4. Grab a friend. This is optional but definitely makes things easier for newbies like me. Find someone else who'd be interested in helping as a leader of the study - someone who can make snack, keep track of details (like, for my group, we have a points program that someone has to be in charge of), even teach some of the lessons. You can share leadership of the group, or she/they can be an assistant(s) of sorts - that's what I and two college girls are doing for my group. Whatever works for you.
5. Set the details. It will be impossible to fit everyone's schedule, but figure out what days and times work best for you, where you'll be meeting, and at least several of those who want to come. My group meets from 3-5 PM on Mondays and Thursdays at the church. You might meet at church, at someone's home, at a fast food restaurant, at the library, in the morning, in the afternoon - be creative and try to accommodate the majority although it might not work for absolutely everyone.
6. Have a plan. Have a schedule of how each meeting will go. For my class, we start with a game, then prayer requests and prayer, one lesson, snack break, and the second lesson. Work through the lesson personally ahead of time to make sure you're prepared. Don't just do the book, though - look up meanings of words, the cultural importance of the setting, or whatever else comes up. Try to think outside the box and search for things that are often overlooked (such as common words or phrases Christians have heard a million times) or don't make sense in the modern day (such as girdles!) - then look those things up.
7. Keep word out. Those people you first tested interest with? Keep them - and others in your target group - in the loop. Make sure you tell people, more than once, all the details. You'd hate to have interested people miss out because they didn't know when or where to show up!
8. Pray, pray, pray. Really, this should be at the beginning and in between each step. Pray before ever talking about this that the Bible study you want to do is what God wants you to do, and that the target group and timing you have in mind are also what God has in mind. Pray about where, when, which book. Pray for wisdom, guidance, unity among group members. Pray before planning each lesson (something I tend to forget). Pray with the group before doing each lesson. Ask group members how you can pray for them, and encourage them to pray for you and each other.
Looking for more advice? I found this article particularly helpful when I was starting out.