How to Begin a Bible Study Class
By Al Valdés
When we think about starting a Bible study class some doubts may arise. We might wonder, “Can anyone start a Bible class?” or “Don’t I need a seminary degree?” Concerns sharpen when we recall James’s admonition: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1) And, we may have been cautioned about the dangers of sitting in a home Bible study where everyone explains, “What this text means to me” —rather than what it actually means. So… should we even start? Yes! Perhaps. What do we need to know?
Focus on the Bible
People attend Bible study groups because they want to know the Scriptures, desire to know God better, and enjoy the fellowship. (Sometimes they want the snacks also!) Properly led groups help us discover what Scripture means and how to apply it to our lives—all with the help of the Holy Spirit. We don’t want a setting where a self- (or church) appointed guru wants the last word on every passage. So, we need one or two people who know Scripture and care more about you knowing the Lord than hearing themselves talk. So, how do we get things going?
Set up the place, people, and parameters
Bible studies need a meeting place, teacher(s), and guidelines. The location (home, coffee shop) should facilitate communication and have some appeal. At home guests cannot just open the refrigerator and help themselves —unless you permit this. (Yes, that happened in our home study.) Church can help you find teachers or you can serve as an apprentice. Guidelines like “one person speaks and the rest listen” help. When disagreements arise you don’t need the answer right then. Clarify the viewpoints and reflect on them during the week. Time and more study bring interpretive clarity. Now, we need one more thing.
Remember to move on to application!
Bible studies always need to encourage application of Bible truths. We need to actually respond to God’s message. But, because an incorrect interpretation will lead to the wrong application we should always work towards precision. (This underscores the need for sound Bible teachers.) In general, a Scripture passage will tell us to believe something (John 3:16), not believe something (1 John 4:1), do something (Ephesians 5:25-27), or not do something (1 Peter 5:14-16). Some Bible studies never get around to a life response. A good Bible study, however, will enrich our relationship with God.
Much good can come from a properly led Bible study where we focus on the Scriptures, structure for highest effectiveness, and aim for application. Ask God to help you discern your particular contribution. Will you teach or offer your home? Will you help find a place that people will feel comfortable coming to? Will you serve as a trainee or co-teacher? In light of so many misguided desires in the world, we should reward any willingness to study Scripture. Ask God to help you put everything that you need in place for a great Bible study… and do it.