How to Lead a Bible Study, Part 1

By | May 31, 2021
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series How to Lead a Bible Study

{This post was originally found on my previous blog, keeponswimmingblog.wordpress.com.}

I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of seminary wives about how to lead a Bible study. In mentioning this to a couple of people, they were interested to see my notes, so I thought I’d share them here in smaller chunks (than my 11-page notes I spoke from 🙂). I really enjoyed thinking through the topic in detail, and I wanted to come at it in as biblical a manner as I could. I am not an amazing teacher who has all the answers, but I have learned quite a bit in the ten or so years I have been teaching, writing Bible studies, and leading discussions. Perhaps something here will be helpful.

The first topic I addressed was whether it is essential to have a Ladies Bible Study (LBS). 

1. There is no mention in Scripture of women teaching in a formal setting.

There is actually a command in Scripture that women should not teach. In the setting of the church, Paul tells Timothy, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim 2:11-12[1]).

2. There is mention of women teaching Scripture in informal settings.

There is a narrative telling of a woman, Priscilla, and her husband privately taking aside another man to explain “to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).

There is a command that all older women are to be an example to and teach the younger women in practical matters of marriage, child-rearing, and godly living.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).

3. From Scripture, I would conclude that a LBS is not an essential part of the local church.

Despite my conclusion in number 3, I then went on to discuss the value of a LBS.

1. It values a woman’s personal growth and understanding of the Bible and biblical values.

Women are made in the image of God and have both the capability (for the most part) and responsibility to study.

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’” (Matt 22:37-38, emphasis added).

Many women are hungry to study God’s Word, and this can be a means of doing so.

2. It allows for freer, more honest discussion than many women would feel comfortable doing in a mixed group.

I took an informal survey on Facebook and this was important to many who commented. It can be really intimidating for women to interact in a mixed group, so a ladies-only group can really be a help in this regard.

3. It can more bluntly deal with women-specific issues.

The last thing I will mention this time is the third point of my talk with the ladies, the cautions/dangers of a LBS.

1. Having an unqualified teacher. If you don’t have a qualified teacher, you shouldn’t have a LBS. (If the church leadership and ladies still really want a study, the pastor or other qualified male teacher could lead a ladies study, and perhaps they could train a qualified woman to teach.)

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

Bad reasons (as the sole qualifier) to choose someone to be a teacher:

    • She is married to a pastor (a pastor’s wife can be a teacher, but her marriage to her husband does not qualify her to be one).
    • She is an extroverted, likable, talkative person.
    • She is highly opinionated and/or smart.

2. Having a study that is not under the oversight of pastoral leadership.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women,burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:1-7, emphasis added).

“For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:10-11, emphasis added).

A woman can be easily led astray even by a desire to learn and study, but if she is not truly coming to a knowledge of the truth she can be a gateway to false teaching for her family and her church, leading to false teaching being promoted and division.

One of the most dangerous places for a woman can be a typical Christian bookstore. Publishers recognize that there are women who have a desire to be “always learning,” yet they do not always (often!) give knowledge of the truth.

A LBS teacher must be held accountable to the pastoral leadership, and the content of the material must be under pastoral guidance.

3. Having studies that highlight one aspect of a woman’s role to the neglect of another.

Not every woman is a mom or a wife. Single/widowed/childless women may feel out of place in such a study. These studies are definitely helpful and can be a huge blessing, but content needs to be “advertised” so ladies know what to expect.

Studies that emphasize the “pink” passages in Scripture (e.g., Ruth, Esther, Titus 2, etc.) to the neglect of others give a lopsided understanding of Scripture.

[1] All Scripture references from the ESV.

Next time, I will address what should be true about the teacher and the content of a ladies’ Bible study.

Series NavigationHow to Lead a Bible Study, Part 2 >>