A photo of a diverse group of individuals sitting in a circle, with a Bible open in front of them, engaged in a deep discussion, reflecting the beginnings of a Bible study group for beginners.

How To Start A Bible Study Group For Beginners

Starting a bible study group can be an enriching and meaningful experience for both you and the members. If done thoughtfully, it can lead to spiritual growth, close friendships, and a deeper understanding of God’s word.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Begin by deciding on the purpose, format, location and schedule for your bible study group. Promote the group through word-of-mouth and printed materials to attract members.

When starting each session, open in prayer and be prepared with discussion questions about the chosen biblical text.

Decide on the Logistics of the Group

Purpose and Goals

When starting a Bible study group, first determine the purpose and goals you want participants to take away. Consider if the group is for deeper Bible learning, applying verses to daily life, or strengthening faith. Define 1-2 clear objectives so members know what to expect.

Popular goals include establishing prayer partners, memorizing key verses, or reading an entire book of the Bible. Share the purpose upfront so newcomers can decide if it meets their needs.

Study Topics and Resources

Next, choose study topics and resources that align with your goals. For example, use a verse-by-verse Bible commentary as a guide for in-depth analysis or a devotional book for life application. Helpful free websites with study materials include The Bible Project and Bible Hub.

If new to leading, choose flexible resources with discussion questions or fill-in-the-blank worksheets to spark conversation. Set the expectation upfront whether the group will cover the same topic each week or change topics.

Format and Structure

Consider the format and structure preferences of who you want to attend. Some enjoy lecturing while others prefer discussion. Outline the typical format such as:

  • Open in prayer
  • Read and analyze a passage (30 minutes)
  • Discuss personal applications (20 minutes)
  • Close in prayer

Keep the format consistent but flexible. Gauge member feedback after several sessions and tweak areas as needed.

Location and Schedule

Finally, choose a convenient location and schedule. Many groups meet weekly at a home, church classroom, park, or coffee shop. Set expectations on whether childcare will be provided. An ideal duration is 60-90 minutes to avoid rushed or prolonged sessions.

Consider members’ availability and constraints too – perhaps alternate morning and evening times. Promote the schedule across various channels like email, social media, flyers, or church announcements so newcomers can join any time.

Promote the Bible Study Group

Spread the Word

Getting the word out about your new Bible study group is crucial to attracting new members. Here are some tips for effectively promoting your group:

  • Make announcements at church services and events. Ask your pastor if you can make a brief announcement about the new Bible study during services. You can also put up fliers on bulletin boards around the church.
  • Leverage social media. Create a Facebook group for your Bible study and invite friends to join. Share updates about upcoming meetings and discussion topics.
  • Send emails and texts. Reach out personally to people you think might be interested. Let them know when and where the group will meet and what you’ll be studying.
  • Ask existing members to invite friends. Word of mouth is powerful. Equip your current members to reach out to their personal networks.
  • Meet people where they are. Consider hosting your first few meetings at local coffee shops or in members’ homes to make it easy and unintimidating for new people to join.
  • Casting a wide net will help get the word out to believers in your community who are looking for a Bible study group to join. Be sure to provide plenty of details so people know what to expect.

    Print Flyers and Bulletin Announcements

    In addition to digital and word-of-mouth promotion, consider printing up flyers and bulletin inserts to advertise your Bible study group. Include key details like:

  • The name of your group
  • Day, time and location of meetings
  • Contact information for the leader
  • What you’ll be studying (book of the Bible, specific topic, etc)
  • Print 50-100 flyers to place on community bulletin boards at local colleges, coffee shops, libraries, stores, and churches. You can also ask nearby churches if you can include a bulletin insert to reach members of other congregations. Additionally, you can hand out flyers at church events.

    Well-designed and eye-catching promotional materials will give people the basic event details at a glance. Be sure to include an inviting description that makes it clear new members are welcome. First impressions go a long way, so put effort into professional, welcoming materials.

    Prepare Material and Discussion Questions

    Preparing relevant materials and thoughtful discussion questions is key to having a productive and meaningful Bible study. Here are some tips:

    Choose an Accessible Bible Translation

    Opt for a contemporary English translation like the NIV or ESV that uses common language. Avoid archaic versions like the KJV that may be difficult for modern readers to understand.

    Have Extra Bibles Available

    Don’t assume everyone will bring their own Bible. Have 5-10 extra copies on hand of the translation you’ll be using. This allows newcomers and forgetful members to easily follow along.

    Select a Discussion-Friendly Study

    Pick a Bible study format with reflection questions included or be ready to formulate your own open-ended queries. Studies from sources like The Navigators or InterVarsity Press are discussion-focused.

    Prepare Meaningful Questions

    Discussion questions should require some thought and move beyond yes/no answers. Examples include: “What stands out to you in this passage and why?” “How could we apply this scripture to our lives today?” “Does anyone have a related experience they’d like to share?”

    Bring Additional Resources

    Reference materials like commentary volumes, Bible dictionaries/encyclopedias, and cross references can provide helpful context. Members can consult these if questions come up that the group doesn’t have answers to. Just be judicious and don’t let supplemental materials dominate the study itself.

    Set Expectations

    Gently guide members to focus comments on applying and discussing scripture rather than using the study as a therapy or advice session. Be upfront that the goal is to better understand and live out God’s word together.

    Set a Welcoming Tone

    Open in Prayer

    Starting a Bible study with prayer is a great way to set a welcoming, uplifting tone. As the leader, offer a sincere prayer asking God to guide the discussion and help everyone grow closer to Him and each other.

    This demonstrates that the focus is on fellowship and spiritual growth, not just studying. It also encourages newcomers by showing that God is at the center. Consider asking someone else to open in prayer if they feel comfortable. This gets others involved right away.

    Prioritize Fellowship

    A Bible study should feel like a close community, not just a lecture. Set aside time at the beginning or end for everyone to chat and get to know each other. Prepare icebreaker questions related to the study topic so people can share experiences. For example, “What drew you to this study?”

    or “How has this topic impacted your life?”. Make introductions if there are new people so they feel welcomed. Offer snacks and drinks to create a casual atmosphere where participants feel at ease. The more comfortable people are, the more willing they will be to open up.

    Be Patient with Newcomers

    It can be intimidating for someone unfamiliar with the Bible to join an established group. As the leader, go out of your way to make new members feel comfortable. Briefly explain the format and expectations before diving into content. Don’t assume prior biblical knowledge.

    Define terms clearly and recommend resources for additional context if needed. If a newcomer seems lost during discussion, offer to explain a passage or concept one-on-one after the study. Most importantly, correct gently and avoid causing embarrassment if they misunderstand something.

    With patience and encouragement, new members will gradually gain confidence and contribute more over time.

    Continue Meeting Regularly

    Once you have started your Bible study group, it is important to continue meeting on a regular schedule. Consistency and commitment are key to building community and trust within the group. Here are some tips for continuing your meetings successfully:

    Set a Weekly or Biweekly Schedule

    Decide as a group how often you would like to meet – once a week or every other week work well for most groups. Choose a set day and time that will work for the majority of members. Saturday or Sunday mornings or weekday evenings tend to be good options.

    Send Reminders

    As the leader, take responsibility for sending out reminders about upcoming meetings. Emails or text messages a few days in advance are helpful. Gently follow up if someone has been absent for several meetings in a row.

    Stick to Your Agreed Upon Timeframe

    Out of respect for everyone’s schedule, start and end meetings at the prearranged times. Most Bible studies run 60-90 minutes. If conversation goes longer, consider going out for coffee afterwards for those who can stay.

    Maintain Structure

    While each meeting may have a different topic or passage focus, keeping a general structure provides continuity for the group. For example: Welcome and opening prayer > Icebreaker discussion question > Read and discuss Bible passage > Closing prayer and reflection.

    Adjust to Group Needs

    While consistency is important, also remain flexible to accommodate your group’s changing dynamics. Be open to feedback and make adjustments to timing or structure as needed. If attendance declines, consider recruiting new members or taking breaks over holiday weekends.

    Change Locations Occasionally

    Holding meetings in the same place each time is easiest, but consider varying locations once in a while for a change of scenery. Members can volunteer to host at their homes on a rotating basis. Or meet at different public places like coffee shops, parks or church spaces.

    Show Commitment

    As the leader, your commitment establishes the tone for the group. Make attending the meetings a priority and come prepared. If you need to cancel due to an emergency, communicate clearly with the group as far in advance as possible.

    Plan Social Events

    Supplement your regular meetings with periodic fellowship activities help strengthen relationships within the group. Plan potlucks, service projects, parties for holidays, group attendance at church events, or activities like hiking or concerts.

    Making your Bible study a consistent fixture in members’ schedules goes a long way toward growing and sustaining your group over the long haul. Stick to your routine, but keep meetings lively and relevant. With commitment and care, your group can flourish.


    Starting and leading a successful bible study group does take effort, but it is a rewarding way to grow deeper spiritually while also building community. Approach it with prayer and patience. Most importantly, keep the focus on studying the Word in fellowship, rather than just gaining knowledge.

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