Completing a session of any Bible study can be a challenge, even for the most experienced group leaders. There are many reasons for this of course:
- The group may be focused on one specific point. (This is a hallmark of a positive group experience, so don’t sweat it too much.)
- Discussion may run longer than anticipated.
- Rabbit trails may threaten to derail your time together.
Most commonly, it’s a matter of time.
Most Bible studies are developed with 35–40 minutes of group time in mind. But some groups have about half of that available to them. With the amount of content within each session, it can feel overwhelming. So how do group leaders make the most of their time? Here are three ways:
Focus on what’s important for your group
First, choose the key point(s) you need to emphasize the most with your group. As a group leader, you should spend between 30 minutes and an hour preparing for the session, reading through the teaching outline and commentary, and making notes on what elements of the session is most important for your group.
As you read, perhaps you’ll find that your group needs to focus almost the entire session exclusively on one of the three main points. If so, be sure to provide some context and summarize the other key points, but zero in on that one point. Maybe there’s an element of all three points. Whatever the end result is, emphasize the elements most essential for your group.
Keep your discussion tight
Second, keep your discussion tight. Every session features a mix of different kinds of questions: icebreaker, observation, interpretation, and application. You don’t have to use them all. Keep discussion tightly controlled by limiting yourself to just a handful of these questions from throughout the session. I would recommend limiting yourself to four questions total in a very short group time, but if your group likes to interact, you may need to reduce that further.
Encourage Personal Study
Finally, encourage personal study among your group members. Even if you have plenty of time and get through the session content in your group time, you’re still only going to scratch the surface of what can be taken away from the session. Strongly encourage personal reading and reflection before or after each session for participants to make the most of each study. The Daily Discipleship Guide is built with this in mind, providing five daily devotions that connect to the focal passages and major themes of each week’s session.
Remember, your goal is not to “get through” the content so much as to encourage one another as we grow in Christlikeness. So as you prepare, continue to pray and trust that God will lead you to focus on the material from each session that will accomplish that goal. That is our prayer for you as well.