6 Ways to Engage Your Group Members in Bible Study

Let’s face it, not everyone arrives at your Bible study ready to learn. On many occasions, the minds of your group members are focused on just about anything but Bible study! People come into our groups with all kinds of real-life issues that keep them from fully connecting with the study.

The average attention span of adults is decreasing. Depending upon what article you read or which scientist you listen to, you’ll get slightly different numbers. One study indicated that humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish! Whether the attention span is 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or some other number, one thing is clear: the attention span of people isn’t getting longer.

That’s where you and I come in. It’s our job as a group leader to make sure that we’ve captured their attention. The word “capture” has its origin in a Latin word meaning, “to take” or “to seize.” It carries with it the idea that something is running away (in this case, the attention of your group members) and you must find a way to seize it once again.

As a group leader, I have found several ways that seem to work if the attention of my group members isn’t focused on the Bible study, and a few ways to keep attention focused in the right place during the Bible study. Here are my tips for capturing (and keeping) your people’s attention:

  1. Tell an interesting story. Most of this hinges on your ability to relate the events of the story in a way that makes sense you your hearers. Timing, humor, interesting characters, plot, and other elements all work together to make a story worth listening to. It doesn’t have to be a long story, either! Get to the point, tie it to your Bible study, and engage your people.
  2. Tie in a current event. There’s no shortage of stories from real life, is there? Sports, politics (be careful with this one!), your life, and other sources provide rich connections to your Bible study. “Hey, did you guys hear about that building fire in downtown this week where the residents had only one way of escape? Today we’re going to study what the Bible says about our only means of escaping God’s judgment – there’s only one way out.”
  3. Read the passage one person/one verse at a time. The last time I taught my group’s Bible study, I used this one. We had 15 verses to cover, so I began by having the passage read by groups members. The trick here is to have your group members read only one verse, then the next person reads the following verse, and you continue until all verses have been read. Everyone pays attention because they don’t want to accidentally miss their time to read.
  4. Use buzz groups. These groups are composed of 3 to 4 of your group members, and they work together to respond to a question or an assignment you’ve given them for a set amount of time. Normally these groups report back to the whole group. We call them buzz groups because of all the talking they generate – a low-level “buzz” in the room!
  5. Pair share. Similar to Buzz Groups, this method of engagement is between only 2 people. “Turn to the person next to you and share…” is a way to put two people together to talk about a topic, respond to a question, etc.
  6. Invite discussion. There are a number of ways to use discussion to capture attention. Sitting down rather than standing behind a podium invites people to discuss (sitting down places you among your group members – a place of equality); standing up and over them signals that you are the authority and that you have the answers. Affirming people’s answers by nodding, making eye contact, and using phrases like, “Tell us more about that,” encourage people to talk. When people discuss, they stay tuned in.

There you have it. Six easy ways to engage more people in your Bible study. Try a few of these next time you teach, and watch the difference they make!

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