Many years ago, the pastor of the church that I was attending at the time came to me and asked if I would lead the ladies' Bible study. Honestly, I don’t know what he was thinking. I had attended Bible studies before, but I had never led one. I certainly felt unequipped for the job, but as someone who doesn’t generally back down from a challenge, I agreed to try.
Fortunately, I had been taught by some pretty good Bible study teachers in the past who were good examples for me to follow. I also had a passion for women to know the truth. One of the verses that helped me to stay focused on the right mindset in teaching was Ephesians 4:14–15.
“That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
So with nothing more than my own experiences of being in Bible study and a desire to teach the truth, I led my first group of ladies through a study guide titled Women Like Us. Sure there were a few bumps along the way and I learned a lot about teaching women and about how to teach God‘s Word those first few years. But the blessings I’ve received in seeing women grow in their walk with the Lord far outweigh any of the challenges.
Is God calling you to teach? To lead women through the study of His Word, so that they may grow in the knowledge of Him and have a closer relationship with their Savior. If so, then I encourage you to be brave. To step out in faith knowing that the One who calls you to teach is faithful to be by your side every step of the way. This is how He planned for us to learn, one generation teaching another.
“One generation shall praise Your works to another
and shall declare Your mighty acts.”
Below is an acronym of PRAISE with tips to help you lead any small group bible study with confidence and grace.
P ~ Pray
Pray for your Heavenly Father to come alongside you every step of the way. Rest assured the enemy will not want you to teach others about Jesus and will do all that he can to discourage you. Don’t let him! Stand strong knowing that He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Pray that you honor God by teaching His Word accurately and allow Him to guide you in what and how you teach. Accuracy is important, so more on this in a moment.
Pray for those in your study. Satan doesn’t want them to learn either, so pray for them to not be distracted, to find time to study, and that they continue to attend the class.
Pray before you begin and at the end of each class for God to be with you as you teach, for all of you to have open hearts to learn and apply God’s Word, and that the Lord would bless your time together. If time permits, you can also take prayer requests.
R ~ Resources
Accuracy is crucial. You are held accountable for what you teach. James 3:1–2 tells us; “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” Don’t let this scare you, but do make it a priority to be diligent in understanding the scriptures and not taking them out of context.
Use good commentaries from solid biblical authors to help guide you. Some examples are Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary of the Bible or The Reformation Study Bible.
Welcome the wisdom from others who are in your study. Most likely, there will be someone who has walked with the Lord longer than you have. Don’t be intimidated by them but welcome them to come alongside you, to help and guide you as you lead your Bible study.
The first couple of years that I taught, God graciously had Joan Young in our study. Joan had a doctorate in theology and was one of those women who had a gentle and quiet spirit. She was solid in the Word of God. During some of those bumps I mentioned, like when someone had a question that I had a difficult time answering, she was there with wisdom and grace to help guide us.
A ~ Application
This is the key to a changed life and to living out our faith. As stated in the passage below, we are not to just hear the Word or to know it. The enemy does that. We are to put into practice the teachings of scripture. To not be merely hearers but doers of all the commandments and precepts God has given us.
The whole purpose for why we take the time to study our Bibles is to learn what our Heavenly Father wants to teach us and to allow Him to change us for His glory and purpose.
As you’re preparing your lesson, be thinking and praying about how to apply the teachings to your life. Tyndale House Publishers has a Life Application Bible in various bible versions that can be super helpful with this.
Ask application questions. If the study guide you are using doesn’t have questions about how to apply the teachings to your everyday life, then ask a few of your own.
Give or ask for examples. They can be examples from your own life, although you don’t want to do this too often, or from those written in scripture. These are most often the best examples to use. You can also ask the ladies to share any examples from their life.
Jesus taught in parables for a reason. One of those reasons is as we see His precepts lived out in someone else’s life, we are better able to apply them to our own.
I ~ Instruction
Stay on track ~ Do your best to avoid rabbit trails or those who want to monopolize the discussion. Gently lead the women back to the lesson
Prepare a lesson that fits within the time frame, leaving time for discussion. You don’t want it to feel rushed or to end so early that it appears that you did not fully prepare. It’s also important to be mindful of people’s time by starting and ending on time.
Be aware that some ladies will not be comfortable praying or reading aloud, so you will want to avoid putting them in a situation where they feel pressured to do so. Rather than going around in a circle for everyone to pray, either ask for a volunteer or call upon someone you know is comfortable with it.
Understand that not everyone will complete the lesson every time. Women are busy meeting everyone else’s needs and often put themselves last, so they may not make the time to read the study or answer the questions ahead of time. Let them know this is perfectly fine and that you want them to come to the Bible study anyway. They will still learn and be blessed by their time with their sisters in Christ.
Not everyone will be eager to share. Gently help the group to open up by asking a question, then leave some time for someone to answer. Silence, while God encourages someone to speak up, is okay.
Start by teaching from a small study guide where the lesson plan is done for you. Your part will be to go a little deeper with it and to lead the ladies as you answer the questions as a group.
S ~ Servant Leader
You are the leader so take charge but do so with understanding and compassion.
Always point others to Jesus. He’s the star of the show, it’s not about you or your agenda. You are there to serve God by serving the women through teaching His Word.
Allow the Holy Spirit to move. We talked about staying on track with the lesson, but some rabbit trails are for His purpose. There will be times when someone in the group is having a particular struggle in their life or has a hard time understanding God's precepts. Take the time to help them. If you don’t finish the lesson because of it, that’s fine. A person who is hurting or needs help in some way is far more important. The Lord may have led them to your Bible study for this purpose.
Be an example. As a teacher of the Word, you are representing Christ. Honor Him by following the precepts He has given us. Not that you will always be perfect, none of us are. But when you do mess up, recognize your mistake and seek forgiveness.
E ~ Expectations
Keep expectations low, knowing that what happens as you lead the bible study will be according to God’s plan, not yours.
A changed life takes time. Those you are teaching may not apply everything or make big changes. We all change and grow in the Lord at our own pace.
Expect differences of opinion, knowing that God’s Word is the ultimate authority. Some will have a hard time accepting biblical concepts or, they may say, but so in so says this. Be compassionate but do not waiver from the truth or argue with them. Simple state what God’s Word says and graciously move on.
But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.
Don’t feel that you need to have all the answers, you don’t. Most likely, you’re not teaching because you have profound wisdom of God or His Word. You are leading others because you have a willing heart to serve the Lord in this way. You are learning right along with those whom you are teaching.
The women in your Bible study should expect that what they share will remain confidential. It is important to let everyone know, from the very beginning, that this is a safe place and that what is said during the study is to be kept private and not shared with anyone else.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11–12
There is no doubt some are called to be teachers. If you feel that God is calling you, step out in faith and move forward in leading a Bible study. Pray and seek His guidance along the way. These tips have been very helpful for me over the years. I’m sure they will help you have a God honoring bible study as well.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.