4 Strategies for Preventing Group Conflict

Managing potential conflict can build stronger community

BSF Staff

Sep 7, 2023
Be honest—is there someone in your Bible study group you just don’t like? Or two people who always disagree? Do you leave without feeling heard and understood by others?  

As you share vulnerably and openly, you may also begin to disagree, annoy each other, and even cause hurt. 

Yet when you approach these situations with compassion, your group can grow together and prevent conflict from escalating. In community, we live out Jesus‘s command, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).  

Use these four helpful strategies to navigate relational challenges in your small groups. 

1. Listen Well
Your group may have members from different denominations, theological perspectives, life circumstances, cultures, and more. What if these differences could bring richness and depth to your group rather than tension?   

Unity is not built by being the same but by respecting and appreciating the different gifts that each person brings to your group. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6).  

What could you learn by listening to each other? While another person is speaking, try to focus on understanding their perspective rather than formulating your own response (or judgment).  

Some helpful responses may be:

 

  • What I hear you saying is [summarize their viewpoint as you understand it]. Is that right?  
  • I understand why you believe ______. Have you also considered _____?  
  • I know that this is an issue we don’t agree on. Would you be interested in getting coffee with me so I can learn more about your perspective?
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What if differences could bring richness and depth your group rather than tension?

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2. Build Empathy
Our different personalities and experiences might make it easy to misinterpret another’s behavior. What one person experiences as bold, another may interpret as rude. What one person believes to be helpful advice could feel like criticism to the recipient.  

Knowing this reality, how can you show grace to each other? Remember, your small group is made up of real people navigating real life. Before assuming the worst, try to consider a situation from their perspective.  

Here are some responses that might help:

  • I notice that you seem [emotion] about this topic. Do you want to talk about it?  
  • I know that you are trying to _____. It actually makes me feel _____.  
  • You seem stressed today when _____. Is there anything you want to share?  

God calls us to bear with one another and to forgive as we have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13). 

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Your small group is made up of real people navigating real life.

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3. Evaluate your own heart
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or discouraged by any relational challenges in your group. But not all disagreement or even discomfort is bad. When we are faced with differences of opinion or personality, we may want to back away, but it could be a time to lean in and grow together! 

To evaluate the group dynamic, think back to the expectations your group established when you began meeting with each other:  

  • Is the tone of your conversation respectful?  
  • Are you giving every group member a chance to speak?  
  • Do you respect perspectives that are different from your own?  
  • Are you showing grace to others when they offend you? 

Pray for God’s wisdom to help you discern where there is tension and build peace. The wisdom of God is described as pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial, and sincere (James 3:17-18).   

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Not all disagreement or even discomfort is bad.

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4. Ask for help
If there is conflict or tension in your group that you are not sure how to handle, it might be time to speak with your group leader. 

Remember: the goal is not to gossip or create more conflict but to build relationships and create a stronger group dynamic. It may be best to set up a one-on-one meeting with your leader in an environment outside of your regular group meeting.

Navigating relational challenges can be a heavy task. But take heart: We worship the Prince of Peace! 

Summary
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151 Comments

  1. So much to learn from this passage for maintaining peace and unity in group. Not only to be applied in bsf but in many areas being an individual in the community/church/society. Very beautiful and gentle teaching. Thank you leaders of bsf. I am blessed.

    Reply
  2. This is so informative information not only at BSF discussion group time but very helpful tool to learn in building relationships with others.
    Thank you BSF for teaching us how we can be a better person,

    Reply
  3. Thank you so much for sharing this Biblical guidance on how to handle conflict within the group setting. It is very helpful to me in particular, as I almost dropped out of my wonderful BSF group because of one individual who made it very uncomfortable for me. This women dominated the discussion in a self-righteous manner that was very offensive to me and I imagine to others as well. She would state her opinion so strongly about subjects that she never personally experienced herself, yet others did. She was extremely judgmental, so I eventually stopped sharing in the group discussion and was very frustrated. Fortunately, I was able to have a private talk with our group leader about my feelings and she was very kind and supportive and encouraged me to stay in the group. Our leader is very sensitive to all of our needs, so I am relieved to be able to stay in our wonderful group and trust that God will give me the strength to utilize these tools to handling any future conflict in a gracious manner.

    Reply
    • Thank you very much for sharing this insightful thought. Have learnt not discomfotable ideas in a small are bad and we there to build one another.
      Thank you very much.

      Reply
  4. Thank you so much for this- not only helpful for the BSF group but the greater part of life at large. This will carry me even in my local church interactions and at work.

    Reply
  5. Thank you so much for your insights and wisdom .
    This is very enlightening . It’s opens my heart to be more careful of my words and give others a chance to express their thoughts and feelings of the subjects we are in.
    Thank you for what you all do . Being a BSF member for 4 years now help me grow in my faith and more close to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . May BSF continue to stand strong until He calls us home . So bless us God . . My gratitude to the staff and everyone who is part of it . I praise you Lord .

    Reply
  6. Thank you. This is very helpful and I’ll be referring back to it, I’m sure. This is my first year leading a group in BSF.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your insight. These perspectives will not only help in my group, but impersonal relationships outside BSF.

      Reply
  7. Please do not delete me. I need and want all mybsf information to study John.
    Who wants me deleted? This is a mistake. I have worked hard to access bsf and so excited to have it work for me. I kept praying and didn’t give up!

    Reply
    • Hi Linda. Could you explain the issue you are having further? It may be helpful to contact member support by clicking “need help?” on mybsf. Thanks!

      Reply
    • Gmail message someone requested me to be deleted from bsf. Contact bsf let them no the request is not from me so I will not be deleted within 30 days! Please help this request js not from me I need bsf. Said I can never be restored. Not true right? I do not believe this gmail is bsf. Will I be deleted? Gmail listed true details and used red.ink. I am praying. Contacted bsf group leader for help thinks it is a slam. Gmail said I would be notified before deleted. I know God wants me in bsf He is.in control and is giving me His.blessed assurance John 16:33

      Reply
      • Hi Linda! Let me get you into contact with member support. I’ll send them an email. Thanks!

        Reply
  8. I agree that not all our roads traveled are the same, but we all want to end in the same place, HEAVEN!! We need to share our thoughts and not judge, because when we come together, we are not all in the same place as the others. Not everyone can quote a verse or answer a question the same or think outside the box! We need to be considerate of the other person. I also want to thank you for the steps to consider as I have had problems with this.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for the encouraging words and also for the verses that support it.
    BSF is a wonderful pasture for God’s children to gather from different folds and share His Word. “I have other sheep that are not of this fold.”
    Let us pray for one another and grow with each other. Until He returns.

    Maranatha,

    Reply
  10. Good words of how to handle difficult situations which I know I will experience this year.

    Reply
  11. So glad I read this information. So much of it we already know but what a blessing to be reminded. After reading “But take heart:We worship the Prince of Peace!”, I was startled to think of how often we forget that very fact.

    Reply
  12. Great and very helpful insights. They help us to know how to balance our differences as we enrich each other in God’s service

    Reply
  13. I submitted a somewhat lengthy entry earlier today that I would like to revise and shorten without so many specifics. If you are able to delete my original submission, please let me know so that I can submit a more concise and non-specific entry. I feel I was venting too much about a particular person in the group.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Emily, I’ve deleted your comment as requested.

      Reply
  14. Thank you for sharing this. We, always need to have a truth to read of assurance. That we must always hear with God’s love.

    Reply
  15. I have read the rules and many of the replies and I am not sure of how to act now in my upcoming class. I do my homework and try to answer some questions but try not to always be answering. I do have an issue with dead silence that I am working on. Some do not ever speak up and I don’t like that but accept it as a personality difference. I do feel the leader is responsible to guide us through the small group discussion and keep us on track with Godly, gentle spoken rules. I have been blessed with my groups so far but am now preparing for a possible not so wonderful session after reading some of the replies. In life I have found that there is growing in those settings also. Learning to love one another within our faith connection is achievable. Hoping we all can find God’s peace and learning lessons in whatever group God has placed us in.

    Reply
  16. Thank you for the information. I pray that I will look at everybody
    through God’s eyes and take everyones feeling(s) at heart. Looking forward to growing my faith and spititual life in BSF this year.

    Reply
  17. I learned a lot by reading the comments. Thank God for this learning experience. If God bring it to you, He will carry you through it victorious.

    Reply
  18. I appreciate so much the time an effort it took to put these resources together! I am grateful and humbled by all of these wonderful tools. All glory to God who equips us!! Thank you BSF Staff, well done.

    Reply
  19. I plan to attend BSF again this year. What is the starting date?

    Reply
    • Most US classes begin next week. Please contact your local class/leader for more information. If you need their information, you can find it by searching for your class on join.bsfinternational.org and clicking “more info” and “contact.” Thanks!

      Reply
  20. Thank you, good insight, very helpful

    Reply
  21. This is incredibly helpful information! Thank you so much for writing and posting it. I plan to come back to these thoughts often throughout my first year as an OGL. BSF staff, you are continuing to make a difference in people’s lives!

    Reply
  22. I had shared in my group last year that a friend of mine was having trouble in her life and that she was catholic . I had been talking to my friend about Christ. Somebody, in my group told me that we don’t mention denominations. I felt attacked because it was my story. I believe it would of been better to approach me 1 on 1 instead of embrassing me in front of my peers. I left that day and didn’t want to come back. Later my group leader called me to see if I was ok. I told her that it wasn’t necessary for this lady to address me in that way. If there are boundaries that need to be set ahead of BSF, the group leader needs to announce this. I am so glad that I listen to the Lord to return and that I forgave this lady. I wish that we could work prayer into our time together. The enemy is just looking for a way to divide and conquer. I don’t think that my group leader handled the situation very well. I know we are all growing. If this ever happens again, I will go to this person myself and ask why didn’t she just wait and pull me aside and tell me this information. We need to be tender hearted with each other and not so stern and mean spirited.

    Reply
  23. We have bright, deep and responsive ladies in Cheryl’s group. Everyone participates with respect.
    Thank you, Cheryl for all you do and your many calls and prayers.

    Reply
  24. Helpful

    Reply
  25. Yes I been attending 4 yrs and have loved it . What I found out today was very heartbreaking, the ladies who I have form bonds with and felt comfortable with our groups being split up . I have put in requests for us to be in our group hoping someone would listen . It is easier to learn and enjoy studying with pry you can open up too . I hope this will be considered. I attend old fort baptism church group and would appt if we could all stay in our group from last year . I drive a good ways to study , this is because I know these ladies and have open up to them . We have a bond . Thank you if you can help

    Reply
    • I know being with the same people is great because you have shared your lives but remember it’s about the people and not just the ones we like and are close to. Be willing to split up and have a reason to get together outside of group to hear each other’s stories about the new connections you’re making!

      Reply
  26. Very helpful group dynamics, I believe this is very insightful for us all. God bless you

    Reply
  27. Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel it was very educational and food for thought. Very helpful. Will definitely read over it again.

    Reply
  28. Great information. Thank you.

    Reply
  29. I am happy to see these issues being addressed. I have noticed mostly irritation when a dominant personality that seems to be in need of letting everyone in the group know how knowledgeable they are. This can stifle conversation and intimidate some. I also have had an individual express to me openly that the reason my family cancer concerns weren’t answered by God is that I was not praying hard enough. This upset me so that I left the group and chose another. It is a delicate balance at times to get some members to be more quiet and let others share. It’s a tough job.

    Reply
  30. This is great to have in my toolbox at home and in leadership roles. I really appreciate having this now at the beginning of the year.
    I will read it again and again I suspect.

    Reply
  31. All these statements are very true in group discussions. You have to listen and be open minded about what others say and respectful. I have been in class and felt confused at times. Just be patient and think before you speak. We learn from others.

    Reply
  32. As the Holy Spirit leads us in our conversation, we know in unity and relationship we experience God’s presence in our midst. Prayerfully considering Jesus sitting where Two or Three are gathered, Knowing God’s love, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit helping us to see clearly what is the Truth that is being revealed. Always we are going away with a clearer perspective of who Jesus is. We are allowing the Holy Spirit access into our conversation to transform us into Jesus’ image. We only see in part and we need each other to get the full picture of what the Spirit is telling us. We are to enter our groups listening to what the Spirit is saying through His people. Thank you for giving us practical ways to do this.

    Reply
  33. I was so glad to read this. I love diversity in my group. My prayers are that we will have more this year, just not prejudice, ignorant ones.

    Reply
    • Dawn, I have been involved with BSF for minimum of eight years. I have never experienced any prejudice in BSF leadership or in our groups. I am sorry if that has been your experience. Prejudice certainly doesn’t reflect God’s character and should not be reflected in his people.

      Reply
  34. Thank you for the very usefull blog, it helpted me learn about how to handle difficult situations a better away

    Reply
  35. I look forward to meeting my new BSF group!

    Reply
  36. Great advice. Thanks
    I neede to read this now.

    Reply
  37. Educative. I will refer to these strategies from time to time.

    Reply
  38. This is awesome information to receive. We need to check our own hearts first, so that we do not quit judgment on others.
    We are all at work in progress not finished.

    Reply
  39. As I get older I am humbled by how many things in my life have the solution of, “Love One Another”.
    Jesus words and wisdom never change throughout the generations. That brings me great comfort.

    Reply
    • I am right there with you. Humbled by every good thing I learn, and comforted by God’s word. Thank you for your comment it spoke to my heart. We are never too old to learn.

      Reply
  40. So much thoughtful content. I will profit from reading it more than once.

    Reply
  41. As a group leader, I will refer to these many times over the year so that I can lead well and hopefully instill these in my group the Godly principles of order and love He provides and summed up here. What a great summary for us to use! Thank you leadership team!

    Reply
    • Participants need to monitor how much time they talk in a group. Some enjoy sharing so much that they dominate the class time as much as 25-40% of the sharing time. These individuals have good ideas but their voice start to give me a headache.

      Reply
    • I have in the past printed the guidelines for our group discussion and handed them out at our first meeting. That way everyone knows what to expect. It worked really well. If they had questions, they asked me when I made my weekly contact with them.

      Reply
  42. I love BSF but last year was difficult for me to follow. When I have difficulties in my life it is BSF that helps helps keep me at peace.

    Reply
  43. Loved this blog. I really want to take all these suggestions to heart and ask our great God to help me apply them to my life—not just in BSF but everywhere.

    Reply
  44. very useful, can be applied to all conflict resolution opportunities/challenges. Thank you

    Reply
  45. Thanks very helpful.

    Reply
  46. We lost our group leader last year .Ms Amelia ,I may have spelled her name wrong ,it has been a busy summer .I would like to find the group that I had last year if I don’t cause someone else to not be able to study ??

    Reply
    • Dear Priscilla – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help with questions about your group!

      Reply
  47. Learning to disagree without being disagreeable. Very helpful insights. Thank you.

    Reply
  48. Thanks. Very helpful

    Reply
    • Thank you for this encouraging and preparatory message. I even looked in retrospect and realised this message could have helped me in dealing with different religious background.

      Reply
  49. So good! It is always good to have a reminder concerning relationships…especially between believers.
    I think of that scripture, “Owe no one anything except to love one another…” Romans 13:8 A tall order indeed.
    I, too, am making a copy of these steps – so important to reflect upon now and again.
    Thank you! And… bless you and your genuine effort to be peacemakers.

    Reply
  50. Beverly, you can always use the “Hand” Icon at the bottom of Zoom.
    I do that when I have something to contribute. It helps the flow of dialog.
    Next time, Raise your hand when you feel you want to participate in the discussion.

    Reply
  51. Observation: Speak from First Person … Speak from Experience

    In my former BSF groups that had good camaraderie, I noticed that when sharing people spoke from their point-of-view and/or spoke from experience. That seems to be a good rule-of-thumb. I can’t argue with someone’s point-of-view, nor can I argue if they are sharing “experiential” knowledge.

    It is easy to consider what others are saying if the tone is respectful, and if there is evidence that they have a sincere motive to share what they know as truth or what they have experienced. There’s no need to respond or not respond.
    That’s the time to Listen, Consider, & Reassess.

    Reply
  52. This is very helpful. Thanks for the scripture to help me share with others

    Reply
  53. Thank you for these wonderful tips. I am printing this so I can keep with with me an ever once in a
    while I can refer back to it. looking forward to the coming year.

    Reply
  54. Edifying, useful and helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  55. I came across a bias group leader. Fortunately, he has left. The fact the he has been in BSF for 15 years does not mean he is qualified.

    Reply
  56. A couple of years ago my small group leader called me and said she wanted to meet with me alone-just the 2 of us. I wondered at the time-“Does she think I’m not saved? Is there something about me she thinks is odd?” The meeting/coffee never happened. And I didn’t ask her the reason for the meeting, which as far as I know an individual meeting of this nature was never scheduled with the other women in the small group. It was so off putting for me that I almost dropped out. It’s important to make people feel comfortable and also to ask questions about scheduling etc when it’s appropriate.

    Reply
  57. Thanks for sharing….such good insight and great reminders…to God be All Glory that others grow towards a closer relationship with Jesus….

    Reply
  58. I haven’t seen any of this behavior in my group. The biggest issues for me are participation. and attendance.

    Reply
  59. Wow I certainly need to hear this not only for my bsf family but for my biological family and friends I pray to God to give me a listening ear so I can understand clearly of what is being said I Love what James said My dear brothers and sisters Everyone should be quick to listen ,slow to speak and slow to become angry James 1:19

    Reply
  60. This was very helpful….I appreciate BSF and the staff there so much. Thank you!!

    Reply
  61. Listening well, building empathy, evaluating my own heart and asking for help are
    excellent reminders of how to respond and relate in a group meeting.
    I appreciate the information to help me keep on track with God and others.

    Reply
  62. I ordered my materials several months ago but haven’t received it. I don’t know who to contact because I ordered and paid online . I love my group and the studies are great

    Reply
  63. Studying God’s word through BSF has given me light in a very dark world.
    Thank-you, BSF

    Reply
  64. I’m looking forward to be moulded as a real person as a member of a small group of real people navigating real life together with hearts that forgives or learning to forgive, as we navigate together God’s Word through John’s gospel.

    Reply
  65. Thank you for these tips. I will pray that we will learn and grow .

    Reply
  66. Thank you.

    Reply
  67. Thank you for thoughtful suggestion. I’ll let others speak up and I can listen more. I wish we had TEAM vice ZOOM. Zoom has a timer and boots us out before the session is over. Is there a way we can fix that this term? Blessings to all.

    Reply
  68. These comments are very helpful. Thank you.

    Reply
  69. Wow! These comments amaze me. Last year was my first year in BSF, and I loved our small group! We grew into a cohesive, God-sharing group of women who loved and respected each other. Our GL was an amazing woman who brought us together in love for the Bible and for each other. I pray that we will all have a blessed year of growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!

    Reply
  70. Great tips. Thankfully, our group was supportive and loved each other last year.

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  71. I always appreciate leaders who don’t do to much expressing of their opinion. Help but don’t take over the group.

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  72. I’ve learned quiet a lot from this piece. However, the time scheduled for our meetings prevent us from accommodating diverse views. I wish we’ll have more time for meetings.
    God bless you. Thanks

    Reply
  73. My group leader during the Matthew Study lead by round robin whereby all ladies were given an opportunity to answer and speak. During Kings Study the group mostly was taken over by the ladies that like to talk and some of the quieter ladies kept quiet. Prayer lists were not timely that I just occasionally requested any prayers and prayed for others as a group on my own. I like structured leadership that keeps us on track and I particularly like the lectures from the BSF Headquarter staff they really reinforce our lessons.

    Reply
  74. This information is helping me in my work when there is conflict between coworkers and my residents and their families

    Reply
  75. Even for personal relationships, these strategies are so helpful! Giving the examples of how to say things and ask questions is also enlightening. Some of us have a difficult time even understanding what the real problem is. These strategies help. Thank you.

    Reply
  76. In the nearly 20 years I have attended or facilitated, I have never experienced this kind of conflict. I am wondering if the opportunities to express opinion in the last years have loosened. (I truly don’t know). These are really good ways to handle conflict, but is there time to have the discussions in group? I will pray that the group I attend is cooperative and well managed and led by the Spirit of God.

    Reply
  77. I have not received call for THIS YEAR’s BSF CLASS- in Farragut, Tn

    Reply
    • Dear Marie Carroll – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help!

      Reply
  78. I miss the old days when GL called on folks. I am shy and introverted. I find it hard to speak up when so many others are jumping in. I do my lesson but rarely share. Any advice?

    Also, isn’t there a scripture that warns against criticizing against another’s way of worshipping? Maybe because of David carrying on in exuberant worship?

    Reply
    • Speak to your group leader. You could even work out a subtle (or not-so-subtle) signal, like raising your hand, to indicate that you have something to say. Your contribution to the discussion is important!

      Reply
    • Hi,
      I have an idea for you. Tell your group leader what you shared here and ask her to call on you when you give a signal (eye contact-nose scratch or whatever). I’d bet she would love to help you.
      Blessings 💕

      Reply
    • Hi Beverly, I hope you don’t mind if I pray for boldness for you. The reason being is that so often someone who is shy can have a gem of an answer to a question. They have looked at the question from a different perspective to the rest of the group and it could be just what someone else needs to know. All the best for our study in John.
      With regards to your other question, I think there’s heaps of verses about conflict. Ephesians 4:29 is a good one. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

      Reply
    • Talk to your group leader about your shyness and that you need some encouragement to share! I think some shy people feel just to opposite of you . . . They are terrified of being called on. I think that change in guidelines have made it more comfortable for the majority of shy people. Not so in your case. I think if you let your leader know how you’re feeling, she will make it work for you to share.!

      Reply
    • Is it possible to ask your GL in a private conversation to call on you at the next session? Maybe ask if you can answer one of the comprehension type questions just to gain a bit of confidence. Or if there is a question that you feel strongly about the answer to. It’s very possible that nobody else will have thought of your perspective. I pray you may be blessed in the study this year.
      There will always be things related to worship that we disagree on because of various denominations, eg how often do communion etc. but things that deny core beliefs such as the saving work of Christ should be gently challenged. Then it would be for the GL and team to assess whether BSF is suitable for that person .

      Reply
  79. These are awesome suggestions for building understanding and helping us to listen even when we may have a different point of view. I have often felt not heard and sometimes reluctant to speak on an issue based on my racial make-up. I have felt left out when we are praying for others and being compassionate about their concerns and I have lifted mine with no responses. Thank-you for the tools.

    Reply
    • I pray that you will be blessed by your study this year and not feel left out. Remember though that your concerns are heard by the only One who really matters. God called you to Himself, because He knows your heart. Bring your fears and anxieties to Him.
      I do pray also for the compassion of others in your group this year.

      Reply
  80. I understand conflict is an opportunity for strong connection because it often is a signal that there is a topic with very strong feelings which if handled well creates an opportunity for powerful empathy understanding connection and growth. Being able to capitalize on this and change conflict to growth is difficult and This is a highly valuable life skill. I’d love to learn more on this through faith

    Reply
  81. Great reminders, I enjoyed reading the response examples we can use as help. This is very good for our BSF time, but also can be used for our family and friends relationships too. Thank you, much appreciated!

    Reply
  82. I am not a leader and have great respect for those who feel called to be. My biggest issue is not staying on topic. I put a lot of time into the lesson questions and feel very frustrated when in small group we can’t complete them because of too much time spent straying away. Every group I have ever been in has had at least one member who loves to “sermonize” and it is discouraging to other members. I see a great part of the role of a leader is being a time keeper and moving the discussion along. The suggestions offered in this article are very appropriate. I love BSF!

    Reply
    • Nancy I agree with you and feel it is the leaders responsibility to shift the conversation to the lesson . I have found some group members are personal friend so they talk about husbands/common interests and it’s off topic. A sensitive discerning leading is gentle yet firm in emphasizing this is God centered time !

      Reply
  83. Thank u for these reminders. I am looking forward to starting our studies again and am thankful fir all BSF head quarters have done.
    May God bless u all richly
    Anna

    Reply
  84. When I was Childrens Leader and a scriptural disagreement popped up anyone (mostly me) had the right to call “Bible Check!”. We made it fun to turn to that scripture and read it aloud, and have a brief discussion on it’s meaning.
    No criticism, just re-read the passage. Let the Holy Spirit do the leading with the Word.
    Usually the comment “Oh, now I see” would follow.
    I also think it’s important to re-iterate the basic rules throughout the year becasue we forget and because new people join during the year – respect other denominations but we are here to learn what THE BIBLE says, not outside sources.
    These usually took care of any adult personality discord.
    BRAD

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  85. Very helpful thoughts here in preparation for a BSF year that is pleasing to God and shines his light. Thank you.

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  86. What I hear some of you saying is that you’d like BSF headquarters to provide an expert in Greek or Hebrew to translate Scripture for you. But in John 1 we learn Jesus is the Word and if He lives in our heart, are we not able to ask Him for translation and application for our situation?

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  87. There was a lady that just really bugged me. Everything about her bugged me. I started asking God to change my heart. In a couple of weeks I started seeing what a truly beautiful woman she was. God changes hearts.

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  88. I have grown the most in knowledge of the scriptures from BSF. That in turn has led to the Lord’s leading as I learned to seek the scriptures and seek out mature women to be mentored by.
    I am from being a class member of BSF for 25 years intermittently to the present. I particularly liked having some basic ground rules introduced at our first group. I remember being asked not to share unless you did your lesson, not to share during class time other resources except the Bible and what God had shown you from the scriptures. Not from books or of your denomination’s doctrine. The Bible was our authority.
    Those other resources weren’t necessarily bad but we were to be careful not to get off track since we were under time restraints and would not want to offend or confuse another. That also helped our group leader to refer back to those when discussion began to run amuck.
    Looking forward to participating in the John study again!

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  89. New need online access

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    • Dear Robert – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help!

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  90. This is very helpful

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  91. Thank you for the suggestions

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  92. These strategies are actually life skills we all need to remember. They are helpful in family dynamics as well as working relationships too. Thank you for the great reminders.

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  93. Thank you very much for the strategies, they have provided me with insights, on how to be a a better group member, and help my friends be better too. A group is usually a place to grow but at times the conversations get a little heated up. All in all thank you, and looking forward to other helpful writings like this one. Be blessed!

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  94. I have been a BSF member for over 20 yrs. I continue to be blessed and grow spiritually and enjoy my groups always. I have a personal question that has just been presented to me by my 53 yr old daughter.

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    • Dear Pam, thank you for asking! I have forwarded your question to our ministry team who will respond personally. Grateful for you!

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  95. I still do not know if I am in a group

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    • Dear Sue – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help!

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  96. This was another great read and very helpful information. I am a group leader and it’s always challenging trying to navigate through conversations that go off on tangents. I always have one or two sweet ladies that just want to talk about controversial topics that could come off as offensive and or not well received by others if I let them go on. Knowing how to be delicate and sensitive to both sides yet stay on topic can be challenging. My first year as a leader I was paralyzed and didn’t know how to get the class back on track. It was very uncomfortable and no one really talked to us about how to handle these situations. At the end of one of my classes I spoke to another leader and found that she had the same situation happen to her. I love all of my ladies and I have learned that we all have something to contribute to the class. Knowing now how to bring the class back to the topic by showing grace and allowing each person to speak yet be respectful of others in the class has gotten easier to do. It takes patience, prayer and discernment. Also, simply reminding the class that we need to stay on topic is always helpful. Thanks for these tips.

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    • Amen!

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  97. Thank you for these good reminders.

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  98. Have the new groups for study for this new session been assigned yet? If so, I would like to be included in a group.

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    • Dear Carole – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help!

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  99. I’m new to BSF and haven’t heard
    about my small group or who my leader is. When will I hear this information?

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    • Dear Cindi – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help!

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  100. what to do if someone brings up politics over and over ?

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    • AMEN – especially this 2023-2024 BSF year as the USA national campaigning ramps-up.
      The FIRST DAY guidelines MUST say NO POLITICS or even hints or snide remarks.
      – leaders should start every small group repeating that rule.
      – leaders and members need to keep this to ZERO.
      – no tolerance
      – ZOOM was great, the moderator could mute a person
      – I’m praying my leader has a spine and will say NO as often as needed throughout the year!
      Next year 2024-2025 with the voting on Nov 5, 2024 the BSF group discussions will certainly need to be zero-tolerance too.

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    • I am a GL. While I understand that BSF wants to train members to think biblically in all things, I think that some of the questions in past years stirred up unnecessary controversies that could have been avoided. Our TL was helpful in identifying these and helping us brainstorm ways to ask the questions in a way that promoted God’s peace instead of emotional responses. We would also use our prayer time to ask for unity, not division, during our group discussions. God was good to go before us into these situations.

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    • Bill,
      Great question especially in America this is often a hot button issue. As an OGL in women’s groups I was taught to remind my members that we will focus on what unites and not on what divides. I explain that politics (among other topics), no matter how strongly you may feel about something, is a subject that divides, therefore it is not a suitable topic to use for examples or metaphorical answers to share in our discussion group. I have found it a wise and forward thinking practice to remind my group members of this policy “what unites and not divides” periodically in group communication and an occasional gentle reminder at the beginning of our meetings. This also lays the groundwork for me to easily step in when someone crosses this boundary without any hurt feelings.

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  101. Concerning conflict, a most helpful detailed book on handling conflicts that many have found life changing, is the book “Peace Pursuit” by John Shindeldecker. John and his wife Laura, , oversee other missionaries and over time through helping groups and individuals resolve conflicts, they wrote this book. They have seen God work miracles in bringing people back to loving relationships with one another. This book gives detailed scriptural based information to resolve conflicts step by step. You would find it very helpful. It’s available on Amazon. Their website has a 2 page “Quick Start Guide,” that will give you a good idea of how effective the principals in the book are. PeacePursuit.org. I highly recommend it!!! In my opinion, a must for every pastor’s library.

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  102. I find the group discussions the most enlightening part of the BSF study. I gain from all aspects of it, but the insight from others, particular the more mature believers, has made me consider my walk and how it is lacking, as well as the study that provides more than I sometimes get out of the lesson. Many “sleepwalking” moments in my past have been dispelled by the group interaction and makes me prepare for my own study differently. It is like being with the A team and I am grateful for the opportunity.

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  103. My biggest gripe is when the leader let’s the group lead.
    When that happens, those who love to hear themselves talk – dominate. And some of the quieter ones don’t participate, and they often have a good point of view.
    I wish the leaders would call on people – and if someone has something else to contribute, they can.
    I am tired of Bible know-it-alls.

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    • Amen sistah!

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  104. Really good advice

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  105. I’m not sure who the people are at the top, but finally somebody gets it! This is how our Christian walk should be, this is how our groups should be and leaders should absolutely be trained in handling conflict, or allowing one person to talk the whole study (unless the group is ok with it). No one should be or even feel left out in a study. We as Christians have made so many excuses for our poor/non-Christ-like behavior that it became a free for all and a pass to say “I’m human” “i’m not perfect” instead of becoming humble, submitting, confessing and repenting and then looking a little bit more like Jesus than the world. I make come back to a BSF study if these strategies will be implemented and hopefully implemented well.

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  106. My 13th year is coming up. I am in both Indianapolis and Sarasota during the BSF year and zoom with St. Petersburg unit has been great. I heard there will be no zoom this year. Is this true?

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    • Dear Warren – If you go to mybsf.org and click “need technical help” in the bottom right corner, you can create a member support request. Our member support team will be happy to help!

      While some local classes are no longer meeting on Zoom you can join an online class at bsfonline.org

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  107. Question

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    • Dear Patrick – I forwarded your question to our ministry team and they will respond personally. We appreciate your inquiry!

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  108. Love BSF

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  109. I love these blog opportunities with the group dynamics discussion! I am in agreement with Elizabeth’s question on having a resource at BSF headquarters , that could speak to original Hebrew and Greek word translations!

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  110. We need to strive for unity in diversity.We live in a real world with real people. Each one is unique -Just like the beautiful colourful flowers in nature. Bible too speaks about the Potter who makes pots in different shapes- each for a specific purpose( we see it in real life too).

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    • Amen!

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  111. Sometimes differences that are difficult to resolve come from the fact that a group will have people who read various versions of the Bible which may be appearing to say something different. For example, in our study of Lesson 1 on John 1:1-18, which is coming up next Monday, we find on page13, number 10:
    “or of a husbands will”
    This is from John 1:13. So, I checked (on the internet) 8 word-for-word translations of the Bible and the eight of them all said, “nor of the will of man.” Now there is a big difference of meaning, in that context, between the will of man and the will of a husband. I need to know which is correct. I think there ought to be someone with a good knowledge of the original language, who we can email, to ask questions which require a knowledge of the original language. Is there anyone available?

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    • Elizabeth, such a great question! In BSF we use the NIV but this sounds like something worth discussing with your group leader. It could lead to an interesting group discussion!

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      • Elizabeth – are you familiar with the free Blue Letter Bible website and app? It’s a great resource for Bible Study. Some of the features are 36 Bible translations, an interlinear (original language and English side by side), translation comparison (multiple translations of the same verse in different Bibles), cross-references (same use of a word in other contexts), multiple text commentaries from different authors, and multiple Bible dictionaries. I have found it most helpful for understanding the intent of Bible writings. Just a thought for you to consider.

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    • Elizabeth– have you ever used Biblehub.com? On that website you can click on Strong’s Concordance to check out the original language written. Or, you can even buy the Strong’s Concordance as a book. It is very helpful in these situations. Happy digging!

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    • Interesting, astute point. Thinking the issue may be due to the version of the Bible BSF has chosen to now use. Many view the version unfavorably due to it trying to be politically correct.

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