“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV; 2 Tim 3:16-17)
Every Christian can become a good Bible study leader, but they need to acquire some basic skills. There are lots of good materials on this topic, such as Kuhatschek (2006). Here, I want to say something that may be of help to the cell group for seniors.
The Importance of Group Bible Study
Elsewhere, I have already written about the importance of small group Bible study (Wong, 2017). In fact, the campus Bible study movement was responsible for the planting of many Chinese churches around the world, including the first Chinese Gospel Church in downtown.
Even for seniors, group Bible study is still important for the following reasons:
- We may have studied the Bible for our entire lives, but we may still only scratch the surface. As we face new challenges in old age, we need to dig deeper to find the answers we need.
- As we grow older, everything is on a decline, except our spirituality. We can continue to grow spiritually, only when we continue to paddle upstream; otherwise, we will go downstream.
- Study the Bible together deepens our relationships with one another.
- Group Bible study becomes a model for our children and grandchildren.
The Basic Skills in Managing Group Dynamics
We are all different individuals with our own biases and assumptions, and some may have a closed mind holding a very dogmatic view about the Bible. Therefore, a leader needs to have the relational skills to allow more than one view, because there are legitimate differences within the evangelical circle, such as, the controversies about spiritual gifts and Christian eschatology. The following skills are needed:
- Able to maintain group cohesiveness and unity but remain open to different interpretations.
- Able to ensure that no one dominants group discussion and every group member has the opportunity to participate.
- Able to tolerate silence and allow time for people to reflect or discuss. Do not answer your own questions right away.
The Basic Skills of Leading a Bible Study
Take time and effort to prepare adequately. Any Bible Study guide is designed to facilitate Bible study; therefore, cannot just read each Group Discussion Question without considering its relevance to the group. Not all questions are suitable for a senior cell group (some are too theological; some are too elementary). Feel free to choose the most important questions and feel free to rephrase them to ensure that the group understand your questions.
An inductive Bible study typically asked three types of questions:
- Observation questions about factual matters, such as Who, When, and What
- Interpretation questions about what the original author intended to communicate to the audience in his historical/cultural context as well as to future generations in other parts of the world.
- Application questions focus on how a passage can be applied to the church in general and yourself in particular. They should not focus on your opinions or your related experiences.
You can also ask deeper or provocative questions to stimulate some thinking and discussion. For example, you may ask: Is it possible for a Christian to be completely free from the inner war between good and evil? What can be done to prevent a Christian from doing horrible things?
Generally, avoid asking Yes or No questions, or questions that require one word ready-made answers, such as God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible. Instead, ask open-ended questions that require some thinking, searching other parts of the Bible or discussion.
As a leader, you don’t need to know all the answers, but at least you have done your homework, such as consulting Bible commentaries. A leader needs to have the courage to admit one’s limitations and speak the truth in love, even it may offend someone’s sensitivity.
At the end of the lesson, a leader may want to do a simple recap and synthesize the discussion.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (NIV; Mt. 22:37)
Oh Lord, help me to love and serve you with all my heart by walking with you closely so that my desire for you may be pure and above all things; with all my soul by nourishing it daily so that I can have a clear conscience, a growing faith, and the courage to do the right thing; and with all my mind by studying your Word diligently so that I may grow in knowledge and understanding of your attributes, your creation, and your perspective in everything.
- New International Version (NIV) Bible. (2011). New International Version (NIV) Bible (Original work published 1978). Biblica.
- Kuhatschek, J. (2006). How to lead a small group. SmallGroups.com https://www.smallgroups.com/articles/2006/how-to-lead-small-group.html
- Wong, P. T. P. (2017, November 29). Lessons on Christian ministry and cell groups. Dr. Paul T. P. Wong. Retrieved from http://www.drpaulwong.com/lessons-on-christian-ministry-and-cell-groups
Wong, P. T. P. (2023, April 15). The basic skills of a good bible study leader. Dr Paul Wong.com http://www.drpaulwong.com/the-basic-skills-of-a-good-bible-study-leader