Are You Cut Out to Be a Bible Study Leader?

Are you considering leading a Bible study? Today I share some things I’ve learned from my 40+ years of teaching Bible studies to equip you and erase any reservations you might be feeling.

You Can Do It

Shortly after graduating from college I gathered a group of high school students together to teach them about Jesus. I’d never led a study. And honestly, I felt like I was only one/half a step ahead of them. Actually, I’m sure I was one step behind at least one of them. But they were gracious and something wonderful happened.

I discovered a love for the Scriptures and for helping others understand the Bible and how to apply it. I wanted these young women to experience connecting personally with the Lord. Leading Bible studies is still a favorite part of my week.

Jill Briscoe visited one of my Bible studies and conveyed her pleasure in seeing how our group of women studied the Bible together and shared a joy in growing together. “Keep it up,” she said. Then she said something I’ve thought about many times.

She said she thinks the video studies most churches have come to rely upon intimidate women in the church and body of Christ into hiding their spiritual gifts. They listen to a Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer and wonder who would want to listen to them.

I would never have known how much I enjoy leading a group if I’d never tried. Because the gals in my groups came with questions, I found the motivation to think more deeply about our weekly lessons. And guess who grew the most?

I realize not everyone will enjoy leading a group. We have different spiritual gifts. But if a desire to help others know Christ better has been growing inside of you, why not give it a try? Like all things we grow through the experience. And some things we won’t know without trying.

Below are some thoughts to consider for those who already lead and for those thinking about taking the plunge.

3 Benefits for the Bible Study Leader

  1. Leading provides positive incentive to spend more time in the Bible. Weekly meetings provide a deadline to make sure we’re prepared. Otherwise, time can slip by without us scheduling time to dig deeper. This works for leaders and attendees.
  2. We experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When I first began leading a group I was thrilled when the Holy Spirit brought to mind scriptures I didn’t even know I knew in response to someone’s question or need.
  3. We obey Jesus’ command. Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs and sheep (John 21:15-17). He commanded us to make disciples. This is one way we do this.

Preparation of the Bible Study Leader

A seminary professor once said we can’t take someone farther than we’ve gone ourselves. Jesus said, “It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters” (Matt. 10:25 NIV).

In other words, who you are matters more than how much you know. The best preparation is to be a person of integrity who walks with the Lord.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” (Matt. 12:35 NIV).

If we want our group members to be open, we must be transparent. If we want them to apply what they learn, then we must live what we know. Like the Apostle Paul, we want to be able to say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1 NIV).

It is easy to be busy in ministry activity and overlook our own need to stay connected to Jesus. Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5 NIV). Our labor will bear no lasting fruit if it is done in our own human strength. As we rely on Jesus in our everyday lives, His life will flow through us into the lives of those in our groups.

We must schedule daily time with God and ask Him to teach us personally. Connecting with Him is more important than polishing a presentation. If we are breathing in what our Lord has for us, we’ll minister to people in and out of our groups.

3 Traits of a Good Bible Study Leader

Good Leaders Leave Room for Other’s Insights

When I first started teaching, I made the mistake of trying to share too much. I soon learned that not everyone cared about my word studies and research. I now believe people remember what they discover and contribute. I’ve learned to leave room for my group members to ask questions and share the insights God gives them in their personal study. My study provides understanding and material to draw from as needed. But it is not necessary to share it all. I’m amazed at the restraint Jesus showed in His teaching. He left room for people to be curious to seek more understanding.

Everyone profits from hearing from the group. We delight as much in a young believer’s insights as in a seasoned saint’s. Each one shows how Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit is at work in us.

Good Leaders Keep the Group on Topic

When I poled my group on what makes a Bible study group work well and what doesn’t, several said they liked a leader who allowed people to share but brought the discussion back on topic if a comment took it down an alley. As leaders, we have a responsibility to shepherd our groups and not let any one member hijack it.

Good Leaders Pray

I recommend praying for whom to invite before you start a group. One woman prayed for which of her neighbors to invite to her house for a study. Seven names came to mind. She sent each one a hand-written invitation. Over the course of the study all seven women gave their lives to Christ!

If you don’t have peace about inviting someone after you pray about it, don’t. God knows the right timing and chemistry for your group. Pray of His protection and leading over your group.

During the study, pray for your group members and ask God to speak to them when they work on their lesson and to protect them from distractions. At the end of your discussions, record your group’s prayer requests for the week. Pray for one another together in conversational prayer. And pray for their requests when you sit to do your daily lesson as God leads.

Leading a group puts us in a place to lean on God. Even though we prepare, success is not determined by our preparation, knowledge, or social skills. To adapt a phrase from Dr. Bill Bright, success in teaching is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.

A good #leader operates in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaves the results to God. #Fruitful Share on X

Would You Consider Leading a Small Group Through Little Faith, Big God?

The article, “How Does Abraham Offering Isaac Help Us Trust God?” gives you a sample of Little Faith, Big God which releases next week. If you want to lead a few friends or a larger group through it, I’m here to help.

Share your thoughts here.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory  #Recharge Wednesday, #TuneinThursaday, #Dance with Jesus, #FreshMarketFriday, #Grace&Truth, #Faith ‘n Friends

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  1. Ann Musico

    I was part of a bible study group the last 3 years. We actually were from all over the world and did the call on the phone each week. I truly enjoyed it and felt I really grew closer to the Lord. The leader definitely did what you suggested and we all shared and it was especially exciting when one of us would get a revelation to share. Thanks for a wonderful, comprehensive article, Debbie.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, I find that other people’s different places in life and perspectives provide them with insights that really enrich my life. Thanks so much.

  2. Melissa Henderson

    I am thankful for the Bible Study leaders in my life. 🙂

    • Debbie Wilson

      I know they appreciate you too, Melissa!

  3. Barbara Latta

    This came to me at the right time, Debbie. My pastor asked me to lead a 7 week ladies Bible study on Wednesday nights. While I am glad to do it, every day I have thoughts that I am not qualified to do this. Why does anyone want to listen to me? Tha ks for your encouragement and tips.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barbara, that thrills me to hear God’s timing! 2 Cor. 3:5 (NASB) helps me when I feel that way. “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”

  4. Joanne Viola

    Debbie, I have so appreciated those who have taught me the Word. And I so appreciated reading this post!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Joanne, you just named another benefit. We bless others when we are faithful to carry God’s word to them. Thanks so much!

  5. Patsy Burnette

    This is great, Debbie! I can attest that facilitating a small group or Bible study will help you grow at a Christian. You will be so blessed! We have a GREAT tool available over on our site at It’s ​perfect for anyone thinking about hosting a small group or Bible study. Cultivated Community: Your Ultimate Planning Guide for Leading Small Groups & Bible Studies. And there’s a special discount code exclusive to our site waiting for you there!

    Pinned, tweeted and will share to the IE Facebook page.

    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Patsy, thanks for sharing this resource!

  6. J.D. Wininger

    Love these thoughts Ms. Debbie. I’ve wrestled with these very thoughts throughout my entire life; and I still sometimes struggle with those internal questions. Something that helped me become a more effective leader was coming to the realization that my job as a leader is not to be “ahead” of everyone I was leading, it was to do whatever I needed to do to help them attain their goals. If I have done my job correctly as a leader, then my team and I (be that a Bible study group, a proposal team, or whatever) share common goals and we work with each other to achieve our goals. A common mistake many people make is that “leadership is a lonely endeavor.” I say “Hogwash!” Leadership, when it is most effective, is a group adventure. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am. I pray many take advantage of your soon-to-be-released new study. I’m excited to get my copy!

    • Debbie Wilson

      J.D. I love your philosophy, “my job as a leader is not to be “ahead” of everyone I was leading, it was to do whatever I needed to do to help them attain their goals.” And I agree, the groups I lead and have lead enrich me at least as much as I do them.

  7. Lisa notes

    I love being in groups where the leader exemplifies these traits, Debbie! Too often they think they have to have all the answers and do all the talking, but those don’t make for the best learning opportunities for the students. Thanks for sharing this encouragement that we can be leaders ourselves!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Lisa! And isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to come with all the answers?

  8. Mandy Farmer

    Wonderful encouragement here. I never really thought about it but you are right about the video series intimidate Christians from learning to teach themselves

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Mandy. I love good teaching, but it is no substitute for learning to hear from God through His word or stepping out in faith and letting Him develop us.

  9. Catherine Watson

    I’m currently leading a study of Anne Graham Lotz’ Into The Word… it was reassuring that I already employ some of your insight but you have given me more tools! Thank you and blessings in abundance!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Catherine, I’m so glad to hear that. Blessings on you!

  10. Julie Lavender

    Thanks for your post, Debbie. I especially liked this reminder: “In other words, who you are matters more than how much you know. The best preparation is to be a person of integrity who walks with the Lord.”

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks, Julie!

  11. Jeannie Waters

    Debbie, your thoughts are applicable to many areas of service. It’s true that we learn more when we teach. Thank you for sharing joy and wisdom.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jeannie, you are right about applying this to other areas. I hadn’t thought about that. Thanks so much.

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