Leading a Bible Study
Leading a Bible Study during Dorm Time - Full print out here
(Notes from leaders weekend training July 2019)
Dorm time serves many functions: praying together; getting to know each other better; a safe time to go deeper and reflect on the day; friendships and fun. Opening the bible together and learning to discover a love for God’s word is an integral part of dorm time. All dorm times should involve opening the bible together at some point.
We discussed the need to plan dorm time whilst also being able to react to the needs of the group. It’s important to make time with our co-leaders to plan and pray beforehand. We had all experienced times where we had to change plans at the last minute so it’s good to have a stash of felt pens and paper, post-its etc that you can use to plan something quickly if needed but otherwise the general rule is to be prepared!
What to study?
With a group of possibly unchurched or not professing members good activities might be to look at ‘encounters with Jesus’ and to see what effect Jesus had on the people that he met. (Man through the roof, woman at well, centurion at the cross etc.).
With a group that has maybe had lots of teaching and/or is professing then maybe a thematic approach: the Lord’s prayer, great prayers in the bible, the armour of God, the fruits of the spirit or even tracing the covenant promises through the bible from Genesis, Abraham, Jeremiah to Revelation might be a good place to start .
A dorm that doesn’t speak.
· The activities below are useful in helping everyone engage.
· It might also be good to get members to write or draw their ideas down.
· Work in pairs or divide dorm into subgroups between the leaders.
· Have a large sheet in the middle for everyone to write or draw on – have a different colour pen for each member so that you can see who has contributed what.
· Watch out that we don’t fill the gap! The dream is that the members are doing almost all of the talking and work as they explore the bible for themselves – not that we give another talk!
· Don’t be afraid of silence – sometimes there’s lots more going on than we think.
· Spend lots of time with your Dorm members during the day - this will help!
A dorm that is easily ‘off topic’.
· Again the activities below might help.
· Agree between us and the members at the start of the first dorm time some rules that we’re happy to all follow – sometimes going off on a tangent might be where the dorm need to go but if way off, agree a sign or word that will bring them back.
· Let everyone know that ‘we’re going to be talking about this for 5 more minutes and then we can come back to…’ . Make sure that we don’t forget to come back to it!
· Be prepared with activities and questions that pull everyone in.
Members who have issues with literacy or learning needs.
· This is a common issue and will need to be dealt with on an individual basis.
· For someone with dyslexia or writing issues, it might be worth a quiet word before the first session – no matter what we know or don’t know about members of the group, we should never assume that members are happy to read out loud or write their answers down publically.
· Sometimes members are happy to work in pairs and one half does all of the writing or reading.
· Sometimes a member with memory or concentration issues may be need to get up and move around or need something to fiddle with or doodle on.
· The key is to be flexible and find ways to engage with the bible. It might mean everyone draws or even mimes their answers but that’s ok.
Below are just a few activities that we’ve found useful. Please do add to these. They are a mixture of ideas from lots of places.
We started by looking at the reason that we study the bible. We took a selection of verses about scripture which were cut out and then members ranked them in the order that they thought answered the question ‘why is the bible important?’. The activity meant that members discussed each verse and what it could mean as well as their reaction to it. It also includes all members of the group. This activity could be done for any theme but there needs to be a note of caution in taking verses out of context and the leader should know the context of each verse.
Use silence. Take a verse or small chunk of scripture and send the members away to a space for 5 minutes to reflect. They can use a prompt sheet ( see below), or a series of questions that you’ve prepared or just be quiet and pray over the verse asking God to show them something new of himself.
Then come back and share their findings. Members could have different verses or all the same. You could give them post-its to jot their ideas down on or share on a big sheet together as above.
Use this Promt Sheet for each time you look a piece of scripture. It can be used in a variety of ways. Members can use it on their own or take different parts each. The symbols are:
a light bulb moment – What did you see that you’ve never seen before?
a question. What questions does this passage rise? What don’t I get?
Jesus. What does this passage tell me about Jesus and/or God’s character?
Reflect back. What does this passage say to me? How do I apply it?
Sum up the passage that you’ve studied in exactly 20 words. You can enter a competition element here (good for a group that is struggling to engage or off topic). This activity encourages the members to focus in on what they’ve studied and focus on the salient parts. You can then compare your answers to see if you all agree that this is what is being said. Some people found the focus on the word count a distraction so you could adapt it by saying the three most important points or challenge to find five adjectives beginning with P about the passage….
Write a monologue as a character from the passage. For example, write the woman at the well story from her perspective. This is an activity that has been used lots since we learnt it on a training weekend a few years ago. It’s a fantastic way to encourage re-reading and focusing in on the detail of the scripture.
And finally…. It’s ok to go old school and just have some well thought out questions prepared. The key is phrasing your questions well so that they prompt discussion and are not closed. So again preparation is key.
Tips from Sami Watts - Leaders Weekend 2010
Who said it? Who is talking?
Is it a letter? Story? Etc...
What happens before and after this passage?
Where are they?
What language is used?
What imagery is used? What are the images conveying?
What does the passage say about...
o The World
What is the mood?
What are the key words repeated?
What difference does this passage make to your life?
How can you live the passage out in real life?