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Leading a Small Group Bible Study: 5 Ways to Keep Their Attention

I planned blog posts for the next couple of weeks in church on Sunday. I know, I know, I should have been paying attention. And I was trying, because it was a pretty good sermon. But I’m chronically tired, thanks to a 15-month-old that has started waking up at night. A lot. And sitting in the half dark, listening to a sermon is like hearing white noise. And hearing white noise gets my mind working. Before I knew it I was jotting down notes about blog posts.

Drifting off is easy to do when someone is talking and they don’t expect any interaction from you. So let’s keep that to a minimum in our small group studies. We do that by getting group members involved.

The following are five ways to get group members involved in the lesson:

  1. Create a fill-in-the-blank handout. I used to do this for every lesson. They kept us all on-track during the lesson, and waiting for the answers to the blanks kept everyone a bit more attentive.
  2. Limit the lecture time and present questions for discussion. The discussions were what I looked forward to each week. I never asked a right or wrong question (like, “Who built the ark?”) since people are afraid to answer those and they don’t promote discussion. I’d ask questions like, “Can you think of an example to illustrate the last becoming first?” or “What goes through your mind when you read about God asking Abraham to present his son Isaac as a sacrifice?” The Holy Spirit does glorious things when believers get together to discuss Scripture.
  3. Get other senses involved besides their hearing. Show a replica of an artifact, have them draw a picture, even use molding clay! I once got Play-Doh for everyone in class so that they could press their fingers in it and see their fingerprints (to illustrate the impact Christ has on us).
  4. Split the group up into smaller groups for further discussion. I once paired everyone up with one other person (or two other people) to discuss a question.  I was happily surprised to see that people that wouldn’t open their mouths in the larger group chattered away when discussing with only one or two other people, rather than a roomful. In a group of married couples, two or three couples could make up a smaller group for discussion.
  5. Get everyone involved in Scripture reading. We visited a Sunday school class after the service last Sunday, and the teacher did something interesting. Instead of reading the chapter we were studying himself, he started off at one end of the group and had us take turns reading a verse each. Everyone had their noses in their Bibles, following along so that they would know what verse to read when it was their turn. I thought that was a great idea and filed it away for future use.

Do you have any ideas for getting group members involved in a Bible study lesson?

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