The overwhelming majority of churches provide curriculum for their Bible study groups. There’s a reason for that. In fact, there are several really good reasons to use curriculum, not the least of which is to provide group members with a balanced approach to studying the Bible. When teachers create their own studies, imbalance almost always occurs. That’s bad for group leaders, and it’s really bad for group members.
A better approach is to utilize the PSG (Personal Study Guide) that is provided by the church for the group members. I’ve heard people say things like, “Those are old fashioned,” or “My grandmother used those.” There’s nothing old fashioned about PSGs! (I actually own some from the early 1900s – now those are old-fashioned!). The ones we have today are nothing like the PSGs our parents or grandparents used. PSGs, when used rightly, give groups a lift in Bible study and help group members study God’s Word on their own whenever they miss the group’s Bible study. Plus, all PSGs are built on a study plan crafted by experts, so that group members receive a balanced study of God’s Word.
If you haven’t been fully utilizing the Personal Study Guides provided by your church, here are a few ways to more fully incorporate them into your group’s Bible study time:
- Ask a member to be prepared to share a summation of a section of the PSG.
- Email/Message/Facebook group members and ask for their response to a particular quote on a page in the PSG.
- During Bible study, break the group into smaller groups to compare responses to an assigned part of the study.
- Encourage the use of the application questions in small groups during the group study.
- Record prayer requests in Personal Study Guide.
- Refer to study questions throughout the group Bible study.
- Ask a group member to present a brief report on a doctrine, person, or event that is in the Personal Study Guide.
- Remind the group members of their responsibility in the discipling process, and the PSG’s part in that.
- Have group members create accountability partners who use content from the PSG to encourage spiritual growth.
And one last reminder: the PSG will provide a certain depth of study, and it may not be as “deep” (whatever that means!) as you feel your group needs. May I remind you that “ongoing” groups are not designed to “go deep,” but are designed to receive and assimilate new people each time the group meets; Bible studies must be complete and satisfying experiences, and the hope is that spiritually lost people will sit beside growing believers in the same group. This is not the venue for high accountability and intense study. If you want to take longer, deeper dives into the Bible, that’s better done in small 2-3 person “D Groups” and discipleship classes offered by the church at other times.
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I recently had a retired high school football coach who later was principle of the year in Tennessee say, “If it wasn’t for my LifeWay Leader’s Guide I couldn’t teach.”