Miss Part One: Starting a Bible Study? No worries! Go check it out before moving on.
Part Two: How to Keep Your Study Group Alive
Nobody wants a Bible study group that's bored, grudging their time together, or doesn't get along. Sometimes (especially with that last one) you do everything you can and it still seems to end in disaster. However, there are ways to nurture a united, friendly group that has fun together.
Snacks - I take turns with the two college girls helping me in making snacks for the group. We've made cupcakes, cookies, chocolate-covered bananas, and no-bake frozen Oreo cupcakes so far! Everyone loves food and people definitely appreciate the effort put into a 'homemade' snack. Hint: Cookies from a box mix totally count as homemade; Twinkies don't.
Games - Actually, my plan was to start the first day with a game that would help everyone get to know each other a little. You know, break the ice and get things going. But the girls really seemed to have fun and it made a good way to jump in to our meeting, so I came up with a different game for each time we met - and they love it! For the first day, we played "Two Truths and a Lie." Everyone writes down two truths and one line about themselves; then they read the three sentences aloud and the others have to guess which one's the lie. Other games we played include a memory game (I had a tray of beauty products, and after a minute of looking at the tray, the girls closed their eyes and I removed an item. They had to guess what was missing. We continued, removing more items each round, until there were ten items missing total. Then I told them what I'd taken off and the person with the most right won.) as well as "Would You Rather?" (would you rather live in an igloo or a tepee, have a chaffeur or a personal stylist, write a bestselling book or have a bestselling book written about you, etc.)
Prayer - This really does bring the group together! I have personally seen how asking for the girls' prayer requests and then writing them down and faithfully praying for them - even if they don't seem like a big deal to me - has had an impact on our study and on those girls' relationships with God and with me. Sometimes I think they trust and look up to me more than many actual authorities in their life, especially since many of them are in or entering that rebellious phase. It's humbling.
Crafts - My group doesn't do this, but if I'd thought of it and we had time, I would definitely try it! Lots of Bible study groups like to do crafts together. They might get together on a separate occasion to hang out, or do it during a usual meeting before or after the lesson. Projects I've seen include bookmarks, decorated notebooks, handmade magnet boards, jewelry, or picture frames. Of course, there's plenty of other ideas out there on the internet!
Presents - I haven't done this yet, but I have thought about it and might in the future. Think of your favorite teacher or Sunday School teacher. Now, there's lots of qualities that make teachers our favorites, but think - did that teacher ever give the class something special? Candy on a holiday, or a pack of pencils before break, something like that? Everybody loves presents, and Bible study groups are a good excuse to have fun giving a little something to others. What you'll give them, though, depends on the people in your group. For my middle school girls, I might give them bookmarks, notebooks, travel bottles of hand lotion, or those little scented hand sanitizer bottles (they're all the rage where I live right now).
Points - This one I am doing! The idea came from a Proverbs study program my whole youth group was doing. You'd get points for different things like doing devotions, attending church, or volunteering around the church. If you wanted a chance to make the mission team, you had to reach a certain amount of points. Same went for the reward trip. And the three people with the most points would receive various levels of scholarship for summer camp. (Guess who wasn't planning on camp this year? Me! Guess who won first place, the full scholarship? Me again! And guess what happened when I did go to camp?) Anyway, for your Bible study, figure out how you'll do the points and what will earn points (and how many.) My group earns points for attendance, bringing the book, bringing their Bible, doing the Additional Study homework from the book, and doing the memory verses in the book. The girl with the most points when we're done with this book will receive a Menchie's gift card from yours truly :)
PARTY! - This is my favorite part, and it wasn't even my idea! One of the college girls helping me suggested it. At the end of your Bible study - or, if this will be a continual study, at the end of that particular curriculum/book or season - throw a party! What kind of party is up to you and your group; my group will be having a pool party. We'll actually do the wrap-up to the study book and award the Menchie's gift card at the party.
Still have questions or concerns? Here's another good article on women's Bible studies - or feel free to ask any questions below in the comments!