5 Tips for Better Group Conversations

Encouraging deep and meaningful Bible study discussions

BSF Staff

Sep 7, 2023

In a small group Bible study, the goal is always to create a healthy, secure space where open and honest conversations flow and everyone feels equally free to contribute. Some groups find their groove from the word “go,” while others move at a slower pace. 

Whether it feels natural or takes intentional time, studying the Bible in a group is helpful for proper Scripture interpretation and long-term spiritual growth. For “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).  

The following five tips will help you encourage deep, free-flowing conversation in your groups:

1. Remove Distractions

Focusing after a long day of work, parenting, or other life circumstances can be difficult. If we want to put worries aside to be present in our groups, we have to be intentional. What specific behaviors or habits could you use to shift your focus before sitting down with your group?

One method is to get out a piece of paper and write down everything on your mind. Write down anxieties, distractions, expectations of the evening, plans for tomorrow, and anything else consuming your thoughts. Getting our mind-clutter out and onto the page frees us to focus on one another.

Remember Paul’s advice in Philippians to “not be anxious about anything” but to turn to prayer. As a result, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). 

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If we want to put worries aside to be present in our groups, we have to be intentional.

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2. Be vulnerable

Commit to being open with your group. If you choose to be vulnerable, it will lead others to do the same! Your group and discussion will be better for it. 

While it can be scary to let yourself show weakness or not have all the answers, you are called to true community. That means showing the real you and your real life. Share your true prayer requests and answers to questions, not just what you think is acceptable or will make others think well of you. 

James tells us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

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If you choose to be vulnerable, it will leads others to do the same!

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3. Build community

The first step to building community in your group is showing up! Make sure that your group is a priority in your life. As much as you are able, show up to every group meeting.  

However, showing intentional care and interest in other group members should extend beyond your weekly meeting. Could you follow up with a member on a prayer request they shared during your discussion? Is there a need you could meet for them? Would you extend an invitation to get to know someone personally outside of your group?  

Hebrews reminds us, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

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Showing intentional care and interest in other group members should extend beyond your weekly meeting.

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4. Stay on Topic

During your group discussion, it is best to stay focused on the passage and follow the guidance of your group leader. 

While it’s always great to share your perspective and life with the group, it may be best to hold back from giving your review of a recent movie, bringing up a divisive political topic, or telling a long story about a recent vacation during your discussion time. 

Before you speak, think, “Is this relevant to the group discussion? Am I talking to draw attention to myself or to share for the good of the group?” 

5. Grow Together

Just as there is always room to grow in God’s Word, there is room for everyone to grow in group Bible study. If you commit as a group to growth, you will all be able to look back and see how far you’ve come by the end of your time together.

Summary

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321 Comments

  1. Enjoyed the 5 steps for group discussion. Very helpful, but what are some techniques to draw the quiet ones into the group discussion.

    Reply
    • When I lead, I found out women would be more equipped to speak on a question when we would do a quick “pair share” in our “getting ready time” a few minutes prior to class. I would have them share a little bit about their favorite question with another member. That would help them to both to review and feel good enough to answer at least 1 question. Very quickly they all were sharing and bouncing off of each other! Any “pair share” brings most women out of their shell not to mention it tends to bond them together more.

      Reply
  2. This is very enlightening. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  3. I am reminded that the most important thing is for a person to know Christ. The Lord has given me 2nd chance to put my faith into action. All to the glory of God.

    Reply
  4. IT IS MY FIRST TIME TO LEAD A BIBLE STUDY GROUP DISPITE THE FACT THAT I HAVE BEEN A LEADER IN OTHER GROUPS. I NEED TO LEARN TO BE FOCUSED

    Reply
    • One simple trick I used in my time as a leader was to wear my watch on the inside of my wrist, so I could easily monitor time (to move things along, etc) discreetly.

      Reply
      • Good idea!

        Reply
  5. Very helpful tips for encouraging better group interaction and discussions, and building intergroup relationships.

    Thank you

    Reply
  6. This information is really good and thought provoking! I will encourage the ladies in my small group to read it.

    Reply
  7. What a joy to begin the Fall of 2023 with the study of John. Getting to meet new friends and learn together as we learn to grow more like Jesus

    Reply
  8. It’s really helpful to build a group with love.

    Reply
    • I used to encourage my ladies to review their Lessons on Sunday nights and choose one or two questions on each page to share with the Group on Monday night. God was so good to me. I never had a night where all the ladies chose the same two questions, and I was left with a room full of silence

      Reply
  9. Really helpful suggestions. Thanks. I’m looking forward to getting started this week. So much to learn about God’s Word and our group members.

    Reply
  10. I long to join the new group to learn more about the word of God.

    Reply
  11. I like the idea of writing down likely distractions before going into session. I will do that and rely on God to be focused and to show up for every session.
    Looking forward to a great year and heeding to the call of loving my group members.

    Reply
  12. I am 82 years old and I can honestly say BSF has had the greatest impact on my spiritual journey. In fact I do not believe I knew the Lord in a personal relationship before getting into the Word of God through BSF. Way back in the late 80s. I love the precious ladies I have met and every leader is unique in their walk with the Lord and their leadership style. I’ve taken John before and can’t wait to see what God has for me this year in BSF. Thank you Lord for the sweet friend many years ago that invited me to this life changing Bible Study. She is with you now. Praise God

    Reply
  13. I am going to enjoy my bsf discussion and connecting with people who want to know God and understand His words! Praying for others and sharing the love of God is always powerful!

    Reply
  14. Thank you, Lord, for leading me back to BSF leadership as a Group Leader. BSF has had an impactful role in my life. It is my prayer to be a light in the life of the men of my group. Thank you for these helpful tips for better group conversations. I ask that the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit remove all barriers and distractions and as a result the peace of God will through His son will transcend every stronghold that binds us this year.

    Reply
  15. Excellent suggestions. Thank you.

    Reply
  16. I am expecting to grow spiritually along with other members of my group.
    To implement these 5 tips, so as to learn from others during the division class class discussion

    Reply
  17. I’ve looked forward to this new year in JOHN with my new BSF group. The summer occupied me and pulled me away more than the last 9 years in BSF as I see MANY MANY changes on Earth. BSF helps me to stay focused on learning the Bible which keeps me calm. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me through God’s Plan in the name of Jesus.

    Reply
  18. This year I have a different age group that I am leading, I feel a tad bit challanged by the change, but I am aiming to rely on God’s power and strength to guide me through it.

    Reply
  19. I love leading an international group online. We have grown to love one another and pray for one another. Women seem to be more open to authenticity and vulnerability online, as they share their dreams, as well as their struggles. My group is from all over the world. We have grown in our desire to seek to know our God more intimately. I have learned much from their insights in Scripture. It is such a great privilege to guide them in the wonderful materials, and gifted notes and lectures that BSF gives us, as we seek more knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord. Thank you BSF.

    Reply
  20. Gladys
    I look forward to spending my time with this BSF group. I look to learning new way of studying the Bible.
    I hope to begin a new season.

    Reply
  21. This is such a powerful guidance as we move on learning the Word of God together with members of our group.It will help me to appreciate others regardless of our different personalities.

    Reply
  22. Thank you good guidance. I love my small group sessions and I am looking forward to having my iron sharpened again this year. May God bless all of you that make this possible, and all of us that participate! Thank you Jesus for all you are going to do inside our hearts this year! Amen

    Reply
  23. I share Joanne’s frustration. I too am praying for patience! I enjoy hearing from everyone in the group. We learn from each other, and no-one should dominate the conversation. I pray that our leader this year can keep the conversation moving in a respectful and fair pace.

    Reply
  24. Good evening I’m looking forward to being in the class, I don’t talk that much, but I’m praying that I open up a little more this year, I started last year at the end of Jeremiah, I am excited 🙏 for me

    Reply
  25. I’m praying about being more patient!! I’m the kind of person who likes to stay on track. It does seem that there is always, at least, one person in the group who dominates the conversation like they know more then the rest of us…they try to lead, and then off down the rabbit trail they go and totally left the scope of the question. So frustrating that makes me want to quit the group. It is difficult for the leader too because she literally cannot get a word in edgewise! Last year the leader suggested that we skip a question because we were running a little behind (due to the talkative person) and we should move on. As our group finished up that person actually said, “I really want to go back to the question we skipped” and started talking about it…..
    It really does feel hopeless sometimes.
    I’m seriously repenting and asking for patience.

    Reply
  26. I am looking forward to another year of wonderful Bible study but having difficulty returning to my previous group because of some personality differences. After much prayer God showed me that I needed to reach out to and show love in this situation and leave the results to Him. I’m excited to being a part of the results.

    Reply
  27. This is my very first BSF class. I am looking forward to meeting all of you, and I am really looking forward to studying the Gospel of John with you.

    Reply
  28. Great reminder of why we are in BSF! Deepening our walk of Faith, fellowship and most importantly knowing who GOD is and growing our relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ! Thanks for all you do, for His Glory!! 🙂

    Reply
  29. I am so EXCITED! I can’t wait to start this study. THANKS FOR THE Tips.

    Reply
  30. Very useful and helpful guidance for group leadrs and members relationship. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Looking forward to our group this year.

      Reply
  31. I will be attending the BSF group in KS. What time does it start?

    Reply
    • 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
  32. Love BSF, my appreciation to all leaders in BSF. Looking forward to start the Lesson in September.

    Reply
  33. I love BSF and have been a leader for over 15 years. But one thing BSF is lacking is allowing group members to get to know one another. We need to be able to share what is happening in our families, jobs, etc. so that we can connect with one another. I do not even know what jobs some of the other leaders have because we never share our personal lives outside of “what God is doing in our lives.” I do think that is wonderful, but there are other things that help us to get to know one another and look forward to seeing each other each week. Becausse my group has been together for a few years, we love each other and visit outside class. We are prayer warriors for each other. I greatly appreciate that.

    Reply
    • Donna – such a great thought – have you discussed with your Teaching Leader? Praying for your class and your group! Grateful for your heart and the way you love the women in your class

      Reply
    • I would agree that we need to have time to get to know those in our group. We have no time for this and it is a hinderance to real fellowship. I our group, it leads to only a few people responding to questions.

      Reply
  34. I believe that such a community is biblically to be build within a local church. However, in reality, not so many in one local community are interested in regular Bible study like what BSF discussion group does, at least here in Japan, as you have some Japanese speaking groups as well. So I am struggling to decide how to serve the local church which does not send any member, while spending time on BSF, more of which should be spent on building up the local church I belong to. I suppose you do not have any decisive answer to this unless you have biblical scholars.

    Reply
  35. It would be helpful if leaders gave out group members’ contact information so we can build relationships/encourage others outside of group time.

    Reply
    • Dear Linda – this is a great question for your group leader! Each group is unique. Your heart to connect with other members is so encouraging – I am praying all BSF members will feel this same desire. Thank you for asking!

      Reply
  36. These are all good suggestions, looking forward to a great group discussion of John this year.

    Reply
  37. These are great tips and good reminders

    Reply
  38. Looking so forward to a beautiful study of a familiar and rich new testament book. Jon is one of my favorites. I anticipate God showing up in new and mighty way.

    Reply
  39. Very helpful tips especially remove distractions. I will keep them in mind.

    Reply
  40. The groups I have been the closest with are those who everyone shares their thoughts and opinions. No one dominates the conversation. Sharing truly gives a strong bond. I trust everyone reads they key points.

    Reply
  41. Thank you for the helpful hints!

    Reply
  42. The important attitude I receive is this fact of accepting to be vulnerable. Thank you! I think I should to humiliate myself before God, I exhort all fellow Christians to do so. Thanks again.

    Reply
  43. Please can I ask – do all registered class members receive these emails?

    Reply
    • They do!

      Reply
  44. Thank you for the guidance!
    ❤️✝️✡️❤️

    Reply
  45. I love this article, it is right on cue, enjoyed reading and being reminded, thank you.

    Reply
  46. THANK YOU FOR THIS GUIDENCE.

    Reply
  47. These are great, thank you. I might add one more and that’s about answering questions: while a pause (after the leader asks the question) may feel like it needs to be filled, perhaps resisting answering if you’ve already recently done so would give the shyer ladies a chance to speak up.

    Reply
    • This is a great suggestion.

      Reply
  48. Great comments, I would add:
    Be Present and Listen- Acknowledge others and try to understand their perspective and….

    Pray : Sharing each other’s burdens builds bonds, take time to Pray about group Shares, Pains , Struggles and needs. I personally shared my 8 month old grand-daughter was diagnosed with leukemia ,the men offered to pray, at the end of the prayer, I opened my eyes to discover 12 men on their knees. I will never forget it.

    Reply
  49. Avoid having side conversations with others while attending the group meeting. Also, welcome pertinent biblical background information provided by group members. And, never be afraid to share relevant comments. Remember, God is in control!

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  50. Recommend silencing your phones or placing them in vibrate mode during class to remove that distraction for yourself & others

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  51. Thank you BSF! I continue to grow spiritually!

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  52. Thank you for the well worded reminders

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  53. God blessings, and thank you for these helpful suggestions. They are very helpful to me!🫶🏼🙏🙂

    Reply
  54. Thank you for these important reminders. BSF Groups is all about taking time to develop our spiritual lives. It’s easy for me to fall into a habit of rushing through my lesson and trying to cram group time into a busy schedule. We all benefit so much more when ladies attend small group.

    Reply
  55. Appreciate these tips for a more meaningful, healthy group dynamic this year.

    Reply
  56. Thank you for these great suggestions. 2022 was my first year in BSF and it has truly been life changing. I am looking forward to what God is going to do this year.

    Reply
  57. both of these articles are great. I cannot thank you enough for sending them at the beginning of the year. They are terrific to have in our tool box.

    Reply
    • Georgia
      Thanks for the great reminder as we begin our new year. They are all right on point.

      Reply
  58. Being in BSF for the last 7 years has been a great joy in my life. I feel I’ve grown stronger in my faith, have been better equipped to share Christ, and have met many wonderful Christian friends. I appreciate these tips for stronger group conversations…..it helps me to reflect on my purpose and personal growth in BSF as well as supporting those around me to do the same.

    Reply
  59. I love this, but last year we had the best group. I have been in BSF for almost 20 years and I have never had a group like I did last year. We became a family, we stay in touch, we see each other, we pray for each other. We love each other. And it makes me sad to have to have another group, I know its the rules of BSF but when a group of women like us, we have been through alot together last year and we would love, love to stay together this year. We have a bond that is so full of Jesus and we are all so broken and we need each other. Thank you for your time. Have a blessed day.

    Reply
  60. Thank you! This is always good advice.

    Reply
  61. I am very excited to be starting my fourth year in BSF! The study groups have been very helpful emotionally and spiritually and I thank God for bringing me to you.

    Reply
  62. I truly feel that you gave good direction for us to follow in strengthening not just the fellowship within the group but the trust to share our truths given to us by the Holy Spirit in our study time or pray without intimidation.

    I especially appreciate the suggestion for decluttering our mind. What a beautiful exercise to free the space in our minds to be filled by the Holy Spirits guidance. An activity not just for BSF but for our lives to give a time of peace and meditation on God’s direction for us.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  63. Thank you for the tip!

    Reply
  64. I was relieved to see the guideline about holding back giving a review of a certain movie or series. I am hopeful that we will stay focused on the true word of God and not a movie version. I’m sure Jesus will appreciate that also.

    Reply
  65. Thank you for listing these tips. Maybe even post them in a lecture throughout the year. That way they can be brought to the forefront of our memory.

    Reply
  66. It is helpful if group members are instructed to think ahead of the gathering what one thing they learned that they think would be most helpful for the group to hear and to be ready to share that. Also it helps to remind them to only share one or two answers or comments until after most of the other group members have had a chance to share.

    Reply
  67. So very good thank you

    I was determining in my mind not to be be vulnerable, or honest to build those cultural walls of trying to be un seen.

    So funny I would open this today.

    Again Thank you. I am so honored and blessed to be a part of BSF and praying for our this year study.

    Reply
  68. Helpful tips! Thank you!

    Reply
  69. I love the ideas about removing distractions! This can be used in most areas of life but will be very helpful in preparing for each Study. Thank you.

    Reply
  70. Being relatively a new member of BSF, I find these guidelines very informative to keep the Group discussions effective and meaningful. I would like to implement it during the study of Gospel of John. Thank you for posting the 5 tips.

    Reply
  71. The comment….’is this relevant to the group discussion’ should be on the top of the list!
    I think it is very important in view of our time restraints.

    Reply
  72. Great points that need restated every year!

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  73. As a discussion leader, these reminders, guides, are so helpful for keeping the group on track, and keeping focus on what is important and primary, what the Holy Spirit wants us to learn! Excellent reminders, thank you!

    Reply
  74. Yes stay on topic not the group to take up time discussing your social problems

    Reply
  75. Thank you so much for the helpful tips!

    Reply
  76. This is so enlightening to a great start for this year’s BSF. I am looking forward to it, to grow spiritually and to be more caring about others and their growth. To have friends, sisters in Christ is so important to me.

    Thank you for these words.

    Reply
  77. quite educating points to follow.

    Reply
  78. Being fully committed and fully engaged helps grow your relationship with Jesus! Thank you BSF for my time to grow!

    Reply
  79. This is my 5th year. One thing I noticed in past years is there just isn’t enough time to go through all the questions. In my humble opinion… less questions which translate into more discussion time on the true meaning of each lesson. We don’t need 15, 16 questions to get the point across each week.

    Reply
    • I agree
      time restraints are limiting

      Reply
    • Mike, I love your comment. I hope all group leaders see this and understand why BSF promotes the three-question method when discussing the lesson. Those 16 questions are great for the initial personal study, especially for those new to Scripture study. However, many people agree with you, Mike – less questions at discussion group allow for deeper discussion.

      Reply
    • Hello Mike

      I hear you. Your concerns are what make you a good leader. I once had the same issues you have now, but God helped me through our TL. I hope my sharing will help.
      I believe the questions in our study guide are both for personal meditation and group discussions. After your personal study, you then transition into leadership mode. The beauty of BSF is that each group is unique. What you need to do after praying is to select questions that will enable you to keep the focus on God but also grow the unique group God gives you to lead each year. Otherwise, you are in danger of turning Bsf meetings into exam centres if you attempt to answer every question. Focus on selecting questions that will enable you to have meaningful discussion with your team. You may need to paraphrase or combine questions.
      In addition to prayer (which is vital since we are studying God’s own manuscript), try reaching out to your team during the week to discover what aspects they find challenging or inspiring. Include some of these issues if necessary.
      I am now a CL, so i meet my students with no prior discussion. Prayer and deliberate preparation work for me. Some days are harder than others.
      Depend on the God who called you to this ministry. He will equip.

      Reply
  80. Thank you so much for these insightful tips! I particularly liked this in #4: Before you speak, think, “Is this relevant to the group discussion? Am I talking to draw attention to myself or to share for the good of the group?” I am sometimes guilty of speaking to break a silent stretch that feels uncomfortable, so this tip will be really helpful for me. I am looking forward to studying John for the second time and can’t wait to see what new things the Holy Spirit will reveal this year. May we all be blessed as we study God’s Word together!

    Reply
  81. I appreciate the thought put into these suggestions. And I appreciate the group leaders accepting the task and being trained in managing the group discussions. As an introvert I often leave group with personal insights unsaid bc others jump in and answer every question and work in much personal information that I hold back on sharing due to time. It is difficult to balance focus on the study material and sharing personal needs to receive encouragement and support. What is the best way to offer encouragement and support without turning group time into a support group setting focused on one person who shares it all?
    How do we acknowledge a struggling group member while attending to the study discussion? We don’t want to create an environment where we all wear masks but need clear group guidelines about group time.

    Reply
    • Agreed. I think it’s the group leader’s responsibility to send out guidelines for discussion in advance and gently remind or encourage others to participate. I had one year a leader who would call on individuals to answer questions. This kept us alert and gave all folks in the group the opportunity to speak if they chose to.

      Reply
    • BSF Leaders have all been trained to pray and offer guidance to each member.

      My last leader would come 20 minutes early and stay behind 20 minutes in order to address questions and personal issues. Members were invited to join.
      This allowed the full hour that is allotted to focus on covering the plethora of questions that are in each lesson. It is good to share personal issues before/after or in a prayer request.

      Reply
    • Thank you so much for reminding us.BSF teaches us thus can happen but your testimony is truly important. I am an introvert and a group discussion leader.

      Reply
  82. A good friend in PA asked to her groups meeting and I started BSF Fall of 2022. I am in TX so there was a little time difference. I enjoyed the teaching and fellowship so much. But I needed to switch groups mid-term to a local group with a time that was easier for me to make. I have been so blessed since my very first BSF meeting. I had reservations switching groups but was so welcomed into the new group and felt like I made the best choice for me. I tell everyone I know about BSF and how blessed I have been being a part of this community. My new sisters have listened to me talk about my earlier sisters with open hearts. I am praying that my daughter joins an international group for her studies and I’m praying for my husband to join a group either local or an international group. I have the BEST leadership ever! I am sure everyone says the same thing, but really Leanne is the dearest as I find myself being mentored with our every conversation. What a true blessing BSF has been. From the group study to the admin lectures.

    Reply
  83. Thank you for the tips they are a good reminder. I am going to use them also in my conversations with others.

    Reply
  84. I needed this advice to stay focused and not get off topic! I am really looking forward to studying John with other women.

    Reply
  85. Joining the BSF Bible study group is a blessing from God. It helped me get to know Him more.

    Reply
  86. Joining the BSF Bible study group is a blessing from God. It helped me get to know Him more.

    Reply
  87. We witnessed the need (and skillful execution) for a strong group leader and admin leader to speak with a group of women who insisted on diverting from biblical truths to their own church doctrines. We’ll hand,es!!

    Reply
    • I have been in BSF off and on since the 80’s. I have been a children’s leader, administrator a d group leader at various times. Last year, I really struggled with the way our discussion was done. We sat at large round tables put together. This separated us and sometimes made it hard to hear. I so missed our closed circle where we used to take out the extra chair for optimal intimacy. This year, I switched to a different venue and my leader said we will be in that circle. So glad. Some of those BSF “guidelines” that are now considered “burdensome”, had a critical purpose that set BSF apart from other Bible studies, and shouldn’t be discarded.

      Reply
  88. I love BSF and being guided to study the Bible. Thank you all for this ministry.

    A critique I have is the frequent reminder to “Keep conversations confidential”. Altho discretion is always a good idea, emphasizing confidentiality leads to moral dilemmas with our spouse. We must either conceal important BSF conversations from our spouse or break this rule.

    I’d recommend it be changed to “use considerable discretion in sharing outside the group”. Ultimately no rule is a guarantee anyway and it must depend on our discretion.

    But thanks again for BSF!

    Reply
  89. So that I can put aside all personal
    problems or thoughts before
    going into my group, I use my driving time to pray and give all to God. I want to be intentional about
    getting to know personally members of my group and follow
    up with their prayer request.

    Reply
    • That’s a great idea Polly!

      Reply
  90. Thank you for this! Group leaders and members need to know let the members share. It is not the leaders responsibility to fill awkward silences with their answers, comments etc. Group leaders are to facilitate not educate. Bring to prayer what others are going through and don’t feel the need to resolve members problems.

    Reply
  91. I commit to be faithful in bible study and pray. I’m looking forward to the study of John. I’m sooo thankful to God for BSF.

    Reply
  92. The tips are great reminders on how to encourage rich discussion during group. With so many distractions in our lives, thank you for sharing a practical way to remove those distractions and focus on God and each other.

    Reply
    • Yea! Y’all do a great job. Thank you for all you do.

      Reply
  93. I love #4!! There are times that we grow so close with one another, we forget that we aren’t a therapy or support group. We need to be brought back into focus.

    Reply
    • I love tip number#4..Staying on the topic and getting really involved with the study is very important!I have been with BSF for many years now.. I look forward in meeting every Thursday with these beautiful ladies of God.. Sending blessings to everyone this year with abundance of wisdom in growing in the word!!

      Reply
  94. Looking forward to a great year!

    Reply
  95. Did all BSF members receive this email? I hope so thank you

    Reply
    • Lucille – they did! But feel free to share any helpful information with your group. Some may have missed these articles

      Reply
  96. I would really like it if you left the notes & lectures up after the yearis finished. I like going back & listening to them!

    Reply
    • Bonnie – me too! I usually print the PDF or order the book so I can read my notes after the study year! I’ll send your note about the lectures to our curriculum team.

      Reply
  97. Great ideas! Keeps groups on target.

    Reply
  98. Very well spoken Hope everyone reads this.
    Excellent ideas I will remember in any group
    Thank you,

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  99. Reminder for ” balanced” sharing. Pray for Holy Spirit leading when to respond. Don’t be tempted to answer every question! (Guidance for self here:-)

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  100. I’m excited on meeting our new leader for this year in class and making some more new friends I’m excited about this study on John! it’s going to be awesome.

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  101. I am so BLESSED with BSF!!!

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  102. Romans 12:2, romans 8:28
    If we open to renewal of our minds, God”s grace/mercies will use all things for our growth and good.
    Thank you BSF for helping us grow in Christ.

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  103. Great tips! Thank you.

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  104. This is wonderful help! Thank you!

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  105. Thank you. All are wise suggestions for each of us to take to heart, so we as a group, will be blessed through open & focused discussion. All glory to our God and Savior

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  106. I love BSF. I do think being open is also talking about what is happening to our country. Sometimes I am hesitant because it borders on political but I truly believe we should not be silent about the evil overtaking us. Jesus never feared it.

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  107. Good focused information. Great reminder too. I really was touched by “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

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  108. Thank you for the sound advice regarding group conversations. I truely do not have trouble setting other thoughts aside when I come to group – to me it is a place of sanctuary and switching off from the day-to-day. Looking forward to our studies in John and to reconnecting with my Sisters-in-Christ

    Reply
    • Words can be used in a context that triggers people and emotions. For me intentional is Being Christ centered and not self centered, allowing Him (the Holy Spirit) to guide the spoken and unspoken sharing and consciously staying
      “behind the cross” as we open our
      hearts can keep our groups growing
      in His power. That’s why we study together. Always be alert to the fierce spiritual forces of the enemy using any means to stir up dissensions.

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  109. Thank you very much for the beautiful guidelines.

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  110. This is wise, insightful advice to take into our new Study! Looking forward to a wonderfully blessed year of bonding, building community, and growing in my relationship with my Savior!

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  111. The use of words like “intentional”, and “building community”, (also “marginalized”, not used here) are “Woke” terms. They are increasingly overused in BSF materials, and blogs. Of course, we are to live are life with the focus of Christ. We need to guard against becoming too much like the culture around us. The only times “intentional” appears in the Bible are in regards to killing intentionally, or unintentionally.

    Reply
    • Jen- thank you for the feedback! Hollie is writing a blog post in early September that I think you wil love! We are also working on several articles this year about how to stand apart from the culture while still making Christ known to those around us. We are praying those will be an encouragement!

      Reply
    • Good point, Jen. However, I am doing better thinking of the word “intentional” or “with intentionality.”
      I am an older adult, and my prayer life has increased dramatically. When I sit down to pray through my list of unsaved family, friends, and acquaintances, my fervency in how I pray and use of praying Scriptures over them has increased my intentionality…I do want God to save this person! These people! As I read Scripture, I look for verses to pray over people. God knows what I want and what he will do. I want Him to know how much I want this.

      Reply
    • What does “woke” mean”?

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  112. Grace and peace, I find that a lot of times the same people answer all the questions and others doesn’t have a chance to speak. Perhaps you can address that in your next email or to group leaders. Thank you

    Reply
  113. I especially enjoyed the ‘remove distractions’ …be present w/the group. Be intentional. Get a piece of paper write down what’s on my mind anxieties, distractions, expectations of the evening and everything else consuming my thoughts. Getting my mind clutter out and on to the page frees us to focus on one another.
    If we want to put worries aside to be present with our groups, we have to be intentional.

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  114. These suggestions give a gentle but clear path to follow – for BSF old-timers and beginners. Thank you!

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  115. Thank you for the reminder of focusing! Looking forward to starting up again soon. Prayers to all!

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  116. Very good. Thank you.

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  117. Thank-you for the five tips to use with small group BSF discussions. God will get the glory.

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  118. Very goof 5 steps to keep in mind for the coming year. Thank you.

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  119. Very good. Thank you and keep up the good work…I need and appreciate you. Showing up to all the meetings is key to getting the most out of the BSF experience. Looking forward to this year’s study of John.

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  120. Being a seasoned BSF member of over 25 years – these 5 suggestions remind me to Keep Christ first. When we leave our concerns at the Cross and focus on being taught by the Word of God and learning life lessons from our group, we will be able to close our time together ready to live life to its fullest. Thank you for this timely reminder

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  121. I desire to grow in the Lord

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  122. Great reminders for this coming year. And I love James 5:16, God is so good and willing to heal us!

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  123. Perfect advice! Sharing widely.

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  124. Thank you for this well-written article! I like the being “intentional” and getting our mind-clutter out on paper (lists help me)ahead of time, so I can relax and focus on the group and subject! Great tips! So excited about how the Lord is going to show up and reveal more of Himself to each of us this year!

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  125. Before you speak, think, “Is this relevant to the group discussion? Am I talking to draw attention to myself or to share for the good of the group?” Thinking of others’ edification rather than self exaltation is very important.

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  126. Thank you for the suggestions. They are very good and need to be remembered.

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  127. I like the part that says “am I talking to draw attention to my self or to God”its so profound, at times I would get carried away and share stories that are not relevant, for the sake of saying something, without focusing on God’s glory . Help me Lord to change.

    Also the reminder that I have to be intentional about preparing for my study, is a take home for me

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  128. I love these suggestions. We should all read this through at our first meetings together as a group.

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  129. How can I order the book for the bible study John? I live in Colorado Springs, CO.?

    Reply
    • Dear Ernestine – 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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  130. Group leaders calling on people to participate in the questions encourages all to interact so it’s not dead air or a topic los skipped over if no one volunteers then the leader can offer her perspective getting discussion going

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  131. I’m so looking forward to the new study and new group this year. Can I say I pray God blessed all participants

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  132. Thanks for theses helpful tips. These are really practical and relevant.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Have a nice journey with this new study.

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  133. Great points to remember and action

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  134. This is my first year to serve as a group leader. These five tips are things I plan to share at our group’s meet-and-greet. Great basic tips! BSF Women’s group study has made a big difference in my life this past two years. I am looking forward to the Study of John. May each and every one be richly blessed this year.

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  135. I liked this article a lot, Especially the two points, ‘stay on topic’ and ‘building community by making Bible Study a priority, and making follow-up a pattern that demonstrates my commitment to the group.’ I saw this demonstrated by the women and from my small group leader last year and it really touched my heart knowing others were praying for me and my situation–and cared to let me know they prayed.

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  136. I think that your idea of sharing prayer requests is a great way to not only build fellowship but to help us carry each other’s burdens.
    Galatians 6:2
    Also, doing a group activity (with families) outside of class, such as volunteering at Feed My Starving Children can be a community builder.

    Reply
  137. Both my friend, who rides with me, and I are excited for the forthcoming BSF study. We both have learned so much digging deeper into His word. I so enjoyed the group I was in and, hate to leave them, but plan to meet other women to become friends. Nothinbutlov

    Reply
  138. Has BSF stopped the daily dive? I thought that was a great tool. I don’t see it in that books or on line.

    Reply
    • Rich – unfortunately we did not produce the daily dive this year. I will let our content team know that you are missing it!

      Reply
      • Oh no! No Daily Dive! Please bring it back. ♥️

        Reply
        • I’ll let our content team know!

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  139. Excellent recommendations, this is a good way to grow in understanding and knowledge
    of the Word of God.

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  140. I am 81 yr. old and almost miles away from the Zeeland or Holland, MI classes. So, am interested in finding a zoom group that meets at 7:30 or 8 pm.

    Reply
    • Dear Linda – 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!
      Or you can find a BSF Online group at bsfonline.org

      Reply
  141. The tip to stay focused and intentional was an eye opener for me personally. I can get distracted and caught up in my own thoughts so easily. I am praying to be more intentional, focused in prayer, Bible study, and in my group. It’s scary to be vulnerable but I want to be honest and genuine.

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  142. I like the idea of writing down distracting thoughts! I’m going to try that, even in my personal Bible time. You can go back to them later and not worry about forgetting something important.
    Thanks!

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  143. I love BSF. I feel I’ve come a long way in opening up about things but I still have a long way to go. My group leaders are awesome! This makes my 6th year, I think. So thankful we got to bring it to our little town. I try to make sure I can answer several question because I hate leaving our leader with no one talking. I’m thankful for the few that are very knowledgeable about the Bible and can speak up when others can’t. I love these suggestions you posted and I pray everyone has an awesome year!!! God bless

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  144. I love BSF and my whole family has grown so much in the knowledge of the Bible and in our spiritual lives. I love connecting with other group members and bringing non believing women to BSF, but now that they are mixing (go-locating) men and women. These relationships are hampered. Widows sand single ladies feel left out. Those important little conversations afterwards don’t happen because the other spouse wants to leave right away. Naturally everyone is more distracted by having the opposite sex in the building. Sharing is deminished. Ladies don’t ask for prayer for their husbands, because they fear the ladies might mention it to them in the lobby. No one can be as transparent, because they may have issues with in the family, but they don’t want it to get back to their spouse. The effectiveness of having all men or all women groups is gone. So sad and an end of an era. I’m sure that in the near future they will have men and women in the same discussion groups.

    Reply
    • Dear Kara, this is a great point to raise to your group leader or class leadership. Many families find it easier to be involved in co-located classes so they can study on a single night, but your feedback could be invaluable to class leadership as they navigate this new concept

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  145. I would add that you should try to hold back from answering multiple questions. Sometimes others are intimidated and will not give a great contribution because they feel lacking in biblical knowledge.

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  146. Thank you for providing an avenue for feedback about group discussion tips. While I am extremely sensitive about not dominating the talking points, I am perplexed about the amount of silence when the group leader solicits feedback and only a select few responds (via Zoom sessions, as well as in person sessions). Consequently, over the course of an evening so much time is attribued to silence (and our reluctance to keep from saying something to get the conversation started). Because some folks are more comfortable listening than engaging in discussions, unless the group leader is intentional about soliciting feedback from those who seldom contribute, the sessions can become awkward for those who are eager to discuss the subject matter. The breakout rooms are great for building community but they should not be the end all for promoting engagement. Nevertheless, I love the BSF curriculum and enjoy sharing the gospel with others albeit spoken our unspoken.

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  147. Ive already started this blessed study on John and its feeding my soul! We are going to feast on God’s goodness this year, everybody!

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  148. This is very helpful advice. Thank you🥰.

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  149. Good advice!

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  150. I was a little bit distressed when I heard that we would not be in the same group this year. This article helped. As I thought about it more, I realized that last year I didn’t know anyone in my group yet, over time, they all became an important part of my life. I look forward to seeing who God is putting in my life this year!

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  151. Thank you for the suggestions they were e helpful.

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  152. During the 2022-2023 BSF year, we were all encouraged to return in person if possible. Upon doing so, I was very disappointed to see that BSF leaders/organizers ignored the potential for the BSF gatherings to become Covid super spreader events. No masking was encouraged, nor social distancing encouraged in either the small groups nor the large mass meetings. I expressed my concern to my small group leader and the only option was for me to leave the group and join a zoom team instead. That option protects only me, but not the larger BSF community. I feel that BSF holds a greater responsibility to help keep covid under control to protect the greater BSF community.

    Reply
    • Mack – thank you for sharing. Individual classes around the world were able to return to in-person meetings in accordance with their country’s regulations. We are so grateful God positioned BSF to move to online groups quickly during the pandemic. It is amazing how God prepared BSF years earlier to make the transition to Zoom quickly.

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  153. These are great tips. Thanks to BSF, it keeps me from being lazy and accountable to open the bible and study. Plus you make new friends. I love John and so excited to start.

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  154. I heard it said once that when we choose to share what the Lord has shown us through the study, this might be the very thing someone else in the group needs to hear. We bless our group and the overall richness of the sharing when we are willing to share what the Lord is teaching us.

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  155. If one of our goals is to get to know each person in our group, we should keep groups the same for more than one year.

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  156. EXCELLENT tips!: well-said in just four relevant points. I am praying they are read, remembered, and applied. Thankns

    Reply
  157. I am looking so very forward to another BSF study…for 10 years I have attended now and has helped me realize in wonderful beautiful depth how important it is to know God and His Will for us in His everlasting Love. Forever and ever ! I love meeting new friends…and the many friends I have met still stay connected. How wonderful is that?!?

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  158. Grace, tolerance, whatever you want to call it, allow that there are differences of opinion that are “in house” differences. Disagree but don’t be disagreeable.

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  159. I love our discussions, but sometimes our focus is interrupted because someone wants to interject a political, current event or theorist topic. This makes me uneasy and is often divisive. I have spoken to my group leader and she tries to deflect whereever possible, however, it keeps happening. It’s like someone let the world out of the closet, very disheartening.

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  160. This blog entry of suggestions for a better group study is so pertinent. Thank you for posting this.

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  161. Thank you for these guidelines. This will be my second year in BSF, and I feel like I have a better understanding of how to be an active listener and participant.

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  162. Looking for a mens group in Niceville Florida. Can you tell me if there’s one?

    Reply
    • Dear Rebecca – 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
  163. The ‘5 tips’ are very appropriate when we approach a new study time and new groups. Small groups can be very helpful but cannot be dominated by one or two – must be comfortable for all to share personal issues and feelings.

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  164. I am going to enter my fourth year with BSF, my last year I finally lifted the veil that held me back I always worried that my answers were wrong. I was very intimedated by the ladies that seemed to know the answers. Then it happened I just opened my heart to our Lord and let myself join in more while discussing the lessons and I am really looking forward to studying John.

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  165. Up through the previous study, there was a pdf document on mybsf for download named, “Maximizing BSF Discussion Groups”. I just searched for it in the Resources and it’s no longer there. It has great bullet points on, Best Practices (during group), Pitfalls to Avoid (during group), and Preparing for Discussion. For years, they were read by the group leader on the first day and every member given a printed copy. When they stopped handing them out, discussion time oftentimes included tangents barely connected to the question, issues with confidentiality, and the big one, using commentaries.

    Why has it been removed?

    Reply
    • Dear JDI – 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
      • Hi Bennet – – I’ve had the digital file for many years and a print version for more than 30. That particular handout and the emphasis of the points following personal introductions on the first day of class had always been done because they’re so important. I think it’s a valuable tool for all. If it’s in the physical book, great. If not, it really should be there because it really expounds on not just the 4 points of this blog but adds several more key points that bring personal study and group time parameters which increase growth and value to both. If it’s been removed from myBSF, it should be restored, in my opinion.

        Reply
        • Thank you for the feedback! I’ll work on locating this and let our curriculum team know. It is likely in the Resource Library but we can definitely link to it from the blog. GREAT idea!

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  166. Thank you so much for these tips and ways to spur me on! I always have room to grow. Sometimes, just the reminder is helpful.

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  167. Preferring BSF questions strictly focus on the passage/the Bible and personal application questions reserved for socials or personal consideration; not during the group discussion/learning time.

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  168. I prefer to stay on topic and not get personally involved with politics because it’s such an explosive subject now.

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  169. The suggestions were extremely helpful. Some of the group members do get off topic sometimes and it takes away from the focus of the questions, etc

    Reply
    • I agree with Fay! We should stay on our study and not get distracted

      Reply
    • Great steps for BSF and for life in general loved all the scriptures. Feel so blessed by our group and the support given to us by BSF. May God continue to bless this wonderful ministry

      Reply
  170. I love BSF and feel so blessed to have found one near me. I have grown so much with the help of these studies in the last 8 years. Hope you all have a blessed year studying John!

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  171. Praying that the Holy Spirit focuses my mind on Jesus and guides my thoughts to what God wants me to learn is always helpful to me. I am not usually successful in calming my own mind. I need help from the Holy Spirit in prayer before the meeting.

    Reply
    • As a GL for 15 years I found the most insightful group discussions were when the members came with competed lessons. Also as group members pray for the discussion time.

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  172. I believe we should also give others an opportunity to share so one or two people are not dominating the discussion

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  173. Very good guidelines. I especially appreciate “staying on topic “. When we get off on “rabbit trails” it eats up our time to discuss our scriptures and applications.

    Reply
    • Yes, it makes me feel uncomfortable especially if someone says something divisive or gets on a political topic.

      Reply
  174. This is very helpful to start the new year with a focus on the Lord, and on the women that he’s going to give me.
    I never feel like I’ve got it together when I come, but I know that the Lord uses me beyond that and I’m so grateful.

    Reply
    • These tips were very helpful. Focussing on growth of group not self elevation. Looking forward to the study.

      Reply
    • Very useful tips. If everyone follows them it actually makes the job of the Group Leaders very easy.

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  175. In the past the whole group did not have access to cell #, emails so it was hard to get close with members of the group. Only the group leader had that info.
    I feel that at the beginning of year this info should be given out ( possibly birthdays as well) so we can extend beyond our weekly meetings.

    Reply
    • I agree with Mary Ann. For those who want to participate and share an email or cell # we should be given the opportunity to do so. I meet on Zoom so it is nearly impossible to get to know group members without this information. Of course it should not be mandatory, but it should be offered.

      Reply
    • I agree. When a classmate is sick, we can send a card, call her, or even take treat.
      We should also commit that we will not share the information and we should have the option to say no to being included in th class list.

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    • I agree with this. I don’t feel like I know even the names of the ppl in my group last year and I usually do. It seemed too
      impersonal.

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    • Great idea! Handouts work🥰

      Reply
    • My group last year set up a group text. This allowed prayer requests to be sent out throughout the week, along with updates and praises. This created another way to stay connected outside of group meetings.

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  176. These are excellent tips for group dynamics. For someone who is a leader, how would you navigate discussion within the group when “one” person may seem to dominate the discussion? Thank you.

    Reply
    • I would love to hear strategies on this. ❤️

      Reply
    • I think everyone has a chance to talk if they want to. We have a lady in our group who is so knowledgeable about scripture and she can talk a lot, but I love listening to her. If you have input speak out. Don’t feel that you can’t. God uses us all.

      Reply
    • I tried to set the tone at the first meeting. I requested that everyone extend courtesy to each other, so everyone has an opportunity to share. And, that our time is limited and we have to avoid rabbit trails. Then, it seemed to be expected and excepted when I would have to move them on to next question. All done with a smile. I had an exceptional group.

      Reply
    • I tried to set the tone at the first meeting. I requested that everyone extend courtesy to each other, so everyone has an opportunity to share. And, that our time is limited and we have to avoid rabbit trails. Then, it seemed to be expected and accepted when I would have to move them on to next question. All done with a smile. I had an exceptional group.

      Reply
  177. I love this! Especially writing down your distractions on paper. Not only for myself but for the group members. We can also pray together over those distractions together!
    Also I love the transparency statement, I have witnessed being transparent will open the door for other group members to share. Sometimes I have felt as though I am subjecting myself to possible judgement. But who cares I have a true love and passion to understand God’s word and how to make it practical in my everyday life. What an awesome honest way to share and encourage each other in their faith and spiritual walk. We all have that common goal. BSF has truly invested in my soul and spiritual walk with Christ! Thank you for the tips!

    Reply
  178. Tip: Commit to Participate

    A Group by definition is a collection of people meeting together for a common goal.
    If people join a face-2-face group, there is more nonverbal pressure to answer the questions. When participating on Zoom, although most use the camera and can be seen, so many do not participate with answering the questions. That leaves a few with the responsibility to contribute which leads to only a few still answering the question.

    Research shows that people will retain 7% of what they Hear & 93% comes from interaction. That means those who show up just to listen are not really learning much.
    It takes “active participation” (body, mind, spirit) to gain the most from group interactions.

    A Commitment to Participate should be expected from all members if they agree to join the Bible Study. There are easy, factual answers that can be found in every lesson.

    In an attempt to foster participation, one of my “leaders” asked the group to identify two questions from the lesson in which they felt comfortable to answer. That helped a little.

    Reply
    • Excellent response -all must make an effort

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    • Excellent points

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    • I look forward to studying the book of John this year. It’s one of my favourite book in the bible. These tips will definitely help me.

      Reply
    • I understand your point about everyone participating and I would like to share my thoughts. This will be my 3rd year in a ZOOM group. I am not close to a person to person group. My girlfriend encouraged me to join a BSF study. I was reluctant, but finally agreed. The only reason I agreed was because I was told I could listen if I didn’t want to talk. After the first session, I was terrified because I wasn’t anywhere close to the knowledge of the women…..their answers to the questions would never have entered my mind. I was amazed at how much I didn’t know. So, feeling guilty that I wasn’t talking, I started asking questions about the questions in the lesson. I became a “devil’s advocate” because I didn’t understand many things that these veteran women had known and understood for a long time. I showed my vulnerability as suggested above. To this day, I’ve gotten more comfortable…..however, I’m still nervous about opening my mouth because I don’t want to appear stupid with my comment or answer to a question…..but I’m grateful that I don’t have to talk if I don’t feel comfortable about it…I’ve had certain days where I’m not prepared….or not feeling well and would just like to listen. I’m sure there are more like me out there….it’s true, contributing is important but for timid people (like myself) listening and learning was helpful when I was a “newbie” to BSF study. PS. My name is Gail as well!

      Reply
      • Gail – you are not alone! Praying for your group this year. We are all new the Bible at some point and I know your questions will help those veteran BSFers think about the passage in a new way. Your group leader is your advocate – don’t be afraid to share your concerns with her. She is there for you!

        Reply
  179. Very helpful. Thank you 🙏🙏

    Reply
    • It’s always hard for me, at the beginning of each BSF season, to adjust to being in a new group. I do participate but it’s so so hard! Hoping it will get easier as time goes on. This will be my 7th year!

      Reply
  180. Thankyou for these insightful suggestions that will help all of us get more out of our meetings. Looking forward to my first time doing this online!

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  181. This is so helpful! I’m going to post it on my mirror so I can see the reminder often. Thanks a ton!!

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  182. Thanks for the good advice and biblical references. I learn something new every day!

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  183. I cannot count the times , during our discussions, I have come across verses I have forgotten or didn’t understand. It reminds me to continue praying for wisdom of God’s word.

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  184. This was very helpful! I’m mostly concerned about distractions since I’m going through a stressful season of life. I will use the tip to write down any distractions before I go to group. Please pray for me in this area

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  185. Wow! I read all the comments thus far and Thank God a friend brought me to BSF. Although I attended Mass every Sunday, soon came to realize I did NOT have a personal relationship with God & BSF, through the Holy Spirit changed all that. I love the vulnerable, busy, apprehensive ladies being so open and their sisters in Christ lifting them up. When I came I didn’t know how to find the Scripture to answer the question. Knew nothing about the Bible. My leader had the patience of a Saint and prayed with me over the phone, led me step by step, and just stayed with me; and my life has changed completely. Thanks be to God. Hang in there ladies there is power in these groups. God’s magnificent and unimaginable power.
    Great tips, thanks for the article and the comments.

    Reply
    • Toni this is so encouraging! Praising God for how He has used BSF and an encouraging leader to grow your faith! What a Mighty God we serve! I too have been so blessed by BSF over the years! My relationship with the Lord has grown through studying His word as well! Thanks for sharing your journey!

      Reply
    • Thanks for sharing that, Toni. It has been my privilege to be a BSF leader for many years, and you are the kind of woman that we love to hear about! I praise God for the way He is inspiring you to grow in your walk with Him through His Word, His persistent love, and the devoted people He is placing in your life! Keep growing and please keep sharing your excitement—it inspires us all!

      Reply
    • Toni, thank you for sharing your journey in growing your relationship with God! I have been a BSF leader for many years and love praying for people just like you to walk through the door each year! We are all growing in Christ, and the more we give of ourselves to Him, the more He gives us of Himself! Keep up the good work—your enthusiasm is contagious to us all!

      Reply
  186. Should I stay in contact with previous group members?

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    • yes definately 100%. That’s how you make true friends.

      Reply
    • Yes! I met some of my best friends in BSF groups. There is something very special about having the Bible at the center of a friendship.

      Reply
    • Why not? If both of you have made a connection, and both of you want to. Just remember, each new year brings a new class together (with maybe a few same people) with chance to make new connections, learn from and interact with new faces and personalities.

      Reply
  187. Thank you for the tips.
    They will are very helpful.

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  188. My first TL taught us to thank each person at the end of their comment. “Thanks Joe” and no more. Joe now feels heard and appreciated. He knows he has a “place” in the group.
    Let the group add or piggyback to his comment.
    If *I* add to his comment I just made their follow up comments unnecessary.
    Basic psychology: The person who talks the most likes the person who listens the most.
    (High school cheerleaders learn this – get the big football player to talk and he will fall for her!)
    My pet peeve was a former GL who would “fix” or “re-route” my comments.
    Excited to kick off year 18 in BSF!

    Reply
  189. Thank you for the great tips!

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  190. These 5 tips are certainly enriching and encouraging and I’m excited to begin the study of “The Gospel of John”.

    Reply
  191. The BSF group discussion model has taught me how to facilitate group discussion for church life groups and ladies home bible studies. These ideas have been proven to build very beneficial groups. Thank you BSF

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  192. Great to get these tips and to have some rules!

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  193. Great tips and reminders. I actually wrote them down so that I can review them often.

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    • So thankful for the tip about letting go of things weighing me down before class! Writing down the issues will likely make a difference and help me to pray and get ready for the evening’s meeting! Excited to begin the study of John!

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  194. Let others join in the discussion. It is good to see what God is doing in discussion member’s life.

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  195. I found all the members wanted to do was debate Bible facts to show who knew more than others. Every time I tried to aim discussion towards how can we apply what we are leaning to our current lives, everyone just stated at me & would not say a word. I gave up!

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    • Never give up, Kathryn. God is able to do the impossible, so we should not lose hope. Keep formulating questions on what they can learn about God from what they are saying. I am praying that God will make a breakthrough for you this year. God does not ask you to be successful, only faithful.

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    • Nooo! So sorry to hear that!! I’ve never been in a group like that! Occasionally there may be a person who thinks they’ve got it all figured out, but mostly we’re all growing and learning from each other through our study and through our questions. Please don’t give up – bible study is about what God has for you, read, pray, meditate and listen for His voice within it.

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  196. I agree to commit to the suggestions for better discussions.

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  197. Such encouragement for all leaders but especially a NEW leader. It provides help to overcome the feeling of inadequacy. We are not going to change hearts until we submit to Him as a vessel for His Kingdom.

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  198. Thank you for your 5 – Step insights to a healthy small group discussion time. While all are true, I especially like step 1, clearing the mind from anxieties by writing them out and a heartfelt prayer will go a long way to preparing to share and receive from each other.

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  199. These tips are so valuable. I love #2, “Remove Distractions”. It will surely make for better class interaction and flow, which will foster #4 “Stay on Topic”. Thanks

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  200. This is very helpful as so go into my first year as an OGL the succinct points will be used! Thank you

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  201. This is such an excellent blog. Thank you! My question is, “How does a group handle a leader who seems to want no discussion, and is just interested in assuring there is an answer to every question?” It seems it is not a discussion when the leader is overly concerned about getting through all the questions.

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  202. Hello, I joined BSF in 2009. I enjoyed the rules of engagement and it made interactions easier. I also took on greater responsibilities by becoming an usher, then a discussion group leader. I loved preparing for lessons and interacting with the other leaders. We also had outside fellowship periods by meeting in different homes in our communities. So much has changed that it seems that anything goes such as you do not have to do the lessons in order to participate in the group discussions. How can you stay on topic when the floor is open to any and all comments – including the movies and popular books. We were also encouraged to let others speak. Frequently one or two people dominate the discussions. I feel that this may have led to many people dropping out of the group – they never had a chance to speak. Maybe we can find some middle ground.

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  203. It might help the group if, should you have a question when preparing for group discussion, you do some research on it. The additional information, especially if it includes Bible references, may prove invaluable.

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  204. Our group of men meets via Zoom throughout the study year. At the end of last year, we decided to meet in person this summer over a meal and get to know one another better in person. This Next Monday will be our third supper time together this year. We are looking forward to starting the study of John’s Gospel together. We are thankful for our leader who comes prepared with questions and keeps us involved in discussions.

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  205. I loved the scripture references. Something to hold onto for future use.

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  206. Very good tips. Thank you

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  207. These are great tips. Looking forward to start the 2023-24 BSF year.

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  208. BSF
    Bible study foremost and 1st priority.
    Fellowship can and will happen without being coerced or uncomfortable.

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  209. I think by doing #1 and #2 – the remaining 3 steps will follow! Consider starting with writing down your own “distractions” on a piece of paper and putting them in a “wait basket”. (this could be a basket you bring every week & set in the middle of the group) Demonstrating your own vulnerability may encourage your group to do the same. These are distractions that can interfere with staying “on topic” and “being present” during discussion. These “wait basket” items may be things that become part of the group prayer list (or only the GL prayer list) – which will help build community within the group. All of which will contribute toward growth when they see how God responds or at least be an example to those who will remember this NEXT year in BSF!

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    • I love that idea of the “wait basket”. Cute! Thanks for sharing, brother Jeri!

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    • Really helpful!

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  210. These are helpful tips. It is good to have these tips in mind before starting in September. Thank you!

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  211. Very inspiring
    Thank you

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  212. Thank you so very much for sharing this! They really help me focus and prepare to begin the new study. I am so looking forward to meeting our new group! Thank you! And blessings, for all you do.

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  213. I have always thought that some of the questions we are given go to a personal depth that are appropriate for a close friend. However often in the group those relationships have not been solidified . So it seems to me that this is a forced technique which for the most part turns me off totally. I do not mind being vulnerable and at my age I have nothing to hide. However this has always bothered me about some questions.

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    • Jim, that is completely understandable. Relationships and trust in a group can take time. Some are more willing to share personal details than others – and that is ok. I loved Todd Wethall’s blog post about how God has placed each of us in our groups for a reason! We will be praying for your group this year!

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    • Jim,
      I appreciate those “cringe” questions because they force extra thought (Or the guys just skip over it!)
      But you and I know men are the worst about opening up! They love to deflect with “I just need to pray more” or something generic.
      But at least that question was put in front of them. Sometimes it gets wheels turning.
      My wife is a GL and frequently comments how they got stuck on those questions with tons of tears.
      When we hit one of THOSE questions I recite my frequent disclaimer
      “What’s said in BSF stays in BSF. We don’t need all the details, let’s just talk ABOUT it.”

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    • Thanks for sharing this. You have expressed what I sometimes feel. In which case I normally choose not to share those aspects I feel are too personal.

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  214. Using the Lord’s word brings me comfort when I share current thoughts that match today’s challenges . Not for controversy but to grow inn His word and direction

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  215. The group facilitator/leader must make sure a person doesn’t manipulate the conversation. Especially on a “personal” application question. The leader can call the person after class and in love let them know that everyone needs a chance to participate in answering the questions…especially in questions where its asking you about how you feel or how you handle a situation. Those questions with personal application. Also, if this person has told the answer before about a situation in their life or circumstance it doesn’t need repeating again, referred to briefly would do.

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  216. Thank you so much for putting this out there just in time for the start of BSF!! I love the bible verses that were included and plan to share these in my class. My favorite is Hebrews 10:24-25 Spur each other on and encourage one another. AMEN!

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  217. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement! Looking forward to a delightful year studying the unadulterated word of God! Blessings💕 Sandra Roquemore

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  218. I joined BSF near the end of last year. I have since moved to another area, there’s no group near where I live now.
    How do I get my book for this year and how do I sign up for on-line/zoom discussion?

    Please and thank you very much.

    Reply
    • Dear Elizabeth – 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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  219. I tell my group if they need to pray I will pray with them after class.
    Some times we have four
    Or five ladies to stay after to pray and praise God
    The pastor lets us stay .

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  220. I loved the suggestion to clear the mind by writing everything down on paper.

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  221. Very helpful tips. Thank you💓

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    • Staying on track and giving
      everyone a chance to speak
      is so helpful for the group!

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  222. Amazing tips.

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    • I joined BSF near the end of last year. I have since moved to another area, there’s no group near where I live now.
      How do I get my book for this year and how do I sign up for on-line/zoom discussion?

      Please and thank you very much.

      Reply
      • Dear Elizabeth – 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
  223. Very helpful tips reminding me to keep on topic and not get sidetracked and miss out on what our Matchless Lord Jesus wants me to learn

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    • I will definitely try to connect and to get to know some members of the group…Thanks for the tips.

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  224. Thanks a lots for the tips. What I liked most was – to be intentional & vulnerable to build a strong bond in the group.

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  225. Thank you for this help. I am starting my third year in BSF study. The first year was terribly hard. I wanted to learn how to read the bible and understand. BSF is wonderful. There were many times I read the scripture, the study guide, the resource guides and on my own more. Then I would albeit timidly share my responses on the study and would be blown away how I didn’t read or see the same as fellow members of my group. I love that I learned from them. Sharing is very hard; especially when you know you don’t have the confidence of say someone in your group that has been participating in BSF for years and years. The first year I tried hard to fit in. There was a circle of chairs and one week another lady and i walked in together and no one budged, or moved over to make room for two more chairs. Finally a lady said, let’s move over a bit and make room. LOL. Well we are all different and the same. I made it through first year and I was hooked. I find the the quiet time with God and reading the bible is my every my morning time. The second year I talked my daughter into going to BSF with me. She is a believer, like me, who just fell through the cracks and didn’t know exactly where to start reading the bible. She spoke with a pure heart and after the first meeting and introduction she said, “I want to learn and hear everything you say.” As a mom I admittedly felt like a failure. Why haven’t I dug deeper in the Word and prayed openly with my family. I know we are good people but we were not living in Christ. The group we were assigned to last year was wonderful. My Leader for open and her heart was for everyone around our group. There was many differences in all of us yet we all shared openly. This is BSF. So now the third year is coming up. We already have a couple that need a different day and time to attend. I am anxious and excited to start up again, praying God brings us a group together like last year’s. These tips for a good group discussion is very helpful. No one has really given me any rules for the year. Last year one lady commented that in the early years of BSF if you missed a certain number of meetings you were out. I never once felt that way this year or saw that. We met in the evenings and there were winter bad weather days that made it difficult to drive and they just couldn’t make it. There is the online lecture following each week that was very helpful. When our studies ended in May all I could think of was, I don’t want to lose contact with any of these ladies. But if work and family and events overcome that I know that our time in this study and supporting each other in prayers kept me coming back. Looking for to the study this year!

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    • Vicky – thank you for sharing! Praying for your group this year – so grateful for the way God works through His Word. Encouraged by your heart for the Lord!

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      • Thank you for the tips. I agree to be intentional and vulnerable to the group since we are all seekers of the word to build us stronger and deeper..

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    • This is truly helpful to me personally towards my growth and knowledge of being intentional Bible study scholar Sharing time with each one in my group so I can get to know them is great Hebrew 10:24-25

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    • Many many many years ago in our BSF circle, we were encouraged to write down a prayer request and exchange with the neighbor sitting next to us. We were also encouraged to sit in different places each week so we would get to know each other better.
      Another method is to use a specific question and have a partner share – when you pair off and share with each other. This also helps to get to know one another and is less intimidating than speaking out in the whole group.

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  226. Very practical tips. Thanks

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  227. Someone was not happy that a few GM do not prepare but only come to listen. How to respond to such complaints?

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    • Hi Sally! That’s a great question. While we always want to encourage participation and have everyone dive into the John study, it is good to have compassion for those that may feel overwhelmed by the study or by life. Perhaps they are seekers or new believers that have never ready the Bible and need to listen to understand. Or maybe they have circumstances that prevent them from being able to do the study for now. This might be a good time to reach out to your leader for advice as you seek to understand how to encourage this person in your group.

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    • Very helpful tips, thank you!!

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    • Hi Sally,
      I was new to Bible study and came unprepared for at least a year. I absolutely could not understand how we could read the same chapter and my group members found such rich answers to the questions. I would write their answers in red ink on my homework. I thank God my group leader was so patient with me. Listening to their answers led me to the realization that I was NOT saved and thus veiled. Once the Holy Spirit moved in, the answers came..slowly but surely. Now as a group leader I encourage new BSF members by saying ” Do not,not come to group because you have not finished your homework. This is a buffet where we dine on Gods’ Word. It is Please come and be fed” I show my red ink filled pages from my start in BSF to encourage new group members. I hope this personal insight helps.

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      • This is a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing . BSF should be a safe place to come, wherever one is coming from.

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    • Sally,
      Not everyone is at the same level. And some have very limited time.
      I remember as a newbie scratching answering on my paper in the parking lot 2 minutes before start.
      I believe God sent them and it’s MY job to honor Him by getting the scripture “out in the air”.
      It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to embed it in their hearts.
      Personally I learn better by HEARING than by READING.

      Just love ’em.

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  228. Thank you for sharing this information. I have been feeling very nervous about attending a new group for BSF and even thinking of changing and going online. After reading the blog I know I need to trust God and be more vulnerable

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    • In-person Fellowship is so important! I pray that you go in-person and that your discussion group is all that God has for you! Don’t be nervous … just enjoy knowing that God placed you specifically with the ladies that He wanted you to be with. It is going to be an amazing year! Enjoy!

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  229. Timely information.

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  230. Thank you BSF for these useful pointers to help steward my role as a GL! Much appreciated!

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  231. Very useful tips . Thank you

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  232. Am I able to apply the same 5 principles if the group consists of men & women?

    What other points I should observe?

    For example, in the topic of building a family with unity and harmony, I noted some members have difficulty in authenticating discussion when their respective families are not in such a stage.

    Reply

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