What Is the Value of Group Bible Study?

Whether a bookclub style, traditional Bible study group, weekly coffee dates, or targeted conversation; it is important to keep people in your life who sharpen, challenge, and disciple you in your faith. Your spiritual health is valuable and worth cultivating.  

Christianity.com Contributing Writer
Sep 21, 2020
What Is the Value of Group Bible Study?

Scrolling through your Facebook feed, you see yet another advertisement from your church, “Join a small group!” or “Come join our Bible Study!”

“What’s the big deal?”, you ask. Theme, book, or topical-based studies are popular within church culture.

I worked at a Christian bookstore back in high school and was always amazed at the volumes of individuals who were purchasing Study Bibles, study guides, and workbooks. Studies covered subjects such as weight loss, addiction, marriage, parenting, and, yes, there was even the “Andy Griffith Show” Bible study. People flocked to start the newest study from their favorite author.

Here is what my experience has taught me, from years of attending and leading group studies, about their value:

You Will Learn from Others’ Perspectives

If you do not allow yourself to hear new perspectives, you cannot learn. Growth does not come when you only hear from those who think just like you. Learning from varied sources — authors, ministries, leaders, or churches — can be a balanced approach.

Can you love and maintain a friendship with someone who has a quite different life experience from you? Are you willing to accept a diverse way of interpreting the Bible into your circle of influence?

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

You May Forge New Relationships

Group Bible studies can connect you to new people, which, in turn, has the potential to become lasting friendships. Unfortunately, the church is not immune to becoming cliquish. It is only when we expand our network that we can establish new relationships. Intentionally stepping out and seeking fresh voices and faces can open the doors to new friendship possibilities.

If you are more of an observer, being in an atmosphere of healthy discussion and growth may become a platform for you to share. Once you become comfortable with a group it might be easier to offer your personal insights.

You Will Be Challenged in How You Think and Behave

Sometimes your beliefs or attitudes need to be challenged — do not run away or dig in your heels. Learning from someone else — face-to-face, every week — forces you to think. When you build a relationship with people, you are inviting them to speak into your life.

Research things for yourself and be open to change initiated by the Holy Spirit. Always be willing to learn. Saying, “I don’t know,” or “I never thought of it that way,” is not a sign of weakness. Readiness to grow and even changing your mind is evidence of humility and wisdom.

You Will Have to Make a Commitment

Showing up the same time each week takes effort and commitment. Doing your reading or workbook assignments takes time and alters your normal daily schedule. If you are the study leader, you must commit to addition prep-time or research.

Especially in 2020 and with the new way of life COVID-19 has brought to us, finding your groove may prove important to your mental health. Commit and show up. It is not easy and some weeks there may be a legitimate reason you cannot attend. But, at the end of the committed time, you will have a sense of completion and satisfaction.

You May Hear the Holy Spirit

When I was newly married, I attended a women’s Bible study in our church. During one of the first sessions, we all sat around a TV screen, watching as the author shared her thoughts on the study. I listened as she began describing a biblical event and found myself confused.

Scanning the Bible passage again, I realized that she was using imagery — something that was descriptively painting a picture — yet she was stating it as fact. I looked around the room and saw women nodding in agreement and verbally saying, “Mmmm. Yes.” No one else seemed to notice this but me.

This experience taught me: Do not blindly follow the group leader, pastor, or author. Follow Jesus. People can get it wrong. People can become an idol. Listen to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.

Often, the Holy Spirit will begin to whisper to your heart during a study. It may be something completely unrelated to the topic. At first, it might just be a stirring, something you don’t fully understand quite yet.

When you choose to learn, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and commit to prioritizing your spiritual health, transformation can take place.

You May Face Past Hurts

Depending on the topics being discussed in your study, you might be triggered from abuse, trauma, or situations in your past. It is ok to need a break or to speak with the leader or church staff about what you’re experiencing.

It must also be noted that for those recovering from an abusive church or religious environment, they may find group Bible studies triggering or emotionally traumatic.

If this is you, know you do not have to force yourself into such a setting to be a “good” Christian.   Please find someone qualified you can talk to, maybe a therapist, counselor, or life coach who has experience with trauma and abuse.

Leaders: Are You Equipped?

Yes, sometimes you feel led to host a study even though you do not have any formal leadership or Bible training. Extremely common, it can be fruitful in your life as well as those who attend.

Knowing how to ask transformational questions and guide constructive, authentic conversation can be learned. In their recent book, Authentic Conversations, Scott and Abigail Doust say,

Most people are just ill-equipped and untrained to deal with the messes that come their way, the hurting people who need someone to walk with them.

Remember, by leading a study it does not make you a qualified counselor or a biblical expert. Knowing when a topic or situation is beyond your level of experience or training and referring to someone who is qualified, is a wise move.

If you are the leader of a study or in church leadership, please show sensitivity and become trauma-informed to better serve and support those within your community.

You believe that this is important and what you are supposed to do — it is perhaps the next step in your own faith journey. Listen to the Holy Spirit while equipping yourself with the necessary tools to be as effective as possible.

Why Does This Matter?

Many authors, churches, and leaders are now offering online courses or studies, which might be an option for you. Social media groups or live chat rooms are often formed for those attending the online program and are a way for you to interact and discuss with others about the study.

Whether a book club style, traditional Bible study group, weekly coffee dates, or targeted conversation; it is important to keep people in your life who sharpen, challenge, and disciple you in your faith. Your spiritual health is valuable and worth cultivating.

Scripture tells us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock

AuthorRebekah Drumsta’s work has been globally reaching by serving with various nonprofits and organizations. Her background is diverse including educational and online content development, event coordinating, international relations, and public speaking. Currently, Rebekah delights in being a homeschool mom and Life Coach. She serves as Director of PR for an international non-profit while also hosting her personal blog, RebekahDrumsta.com which focuses on recovery after religious trauma and spiritual abuse. Rebekah holds a BA in Urban Ministry and Family Crisis with a Christian Counseling Minor, an MA in Religious Education, and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. She has made appearances on and consulted with sources including BBC, NBC, ABC, The Daily Telegraph, and a variety of other platforms.

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