A guest post by Leah of leahegood.com.
A survey taken by over one thousand Christian women revealed that 80% were interested in attending a women’s Bible study.
The leading motivation to attend a women’s Bible study was spending time with other Christian women. Learning more about God and the Bible followed close behind.
Like the women who participated in the survey, I value opportunities to build relationships with my sisters in Christ and enjoy doing so through a good discussion over an open Bible. Sounds simple but sometimes it gets complicated.
Women cite lack of depth and cliques the most common negative traits of women’s ministries.
Have you ever left a Bible study and wondered what the point was? Sometimes there are a lot of words but not much content.
Or perhaps you attend a Bible study hoping to build community and make new friends, but you find that everyone has an established friend group and they seem oblivious to the fact that you are on the outskirts of all of them.
So what should you look for in a women’s Bible study, and how can you avoid problem areas like shallowness and cliques?
3 Things to Look for in a Women’s Bible Study
1. Is the Bible Being Studied?
If you were sitting across the table from me, you might be looking at me a little strangely right now. The name is pretty self-explanatory.
It’s a Bible study. Obviously the Bible is being studied. But is it?
If you’ve participated in women’s studies before, take a second to think through the content you’ve covered. If you’re among the women longing for more depth, maybe it’s because you’re actually doing book studies instead of studying the Bible.
There are so many wonderful Christian books available to us, and there is nothing wrong with getting together to discuss them. However, that would probably be more accurately labeled a book club instead of a Bible study.
Books, podcasts, and articles like this cannot replace or compare to the Bible. If you’re craving more, take a second to evaluate. Are you in the Word personally? Are you discussing the Word with the Christian friends you want to build deep fellowship with?
How can you tell if a women’s Bible study is actually studying the Bible? Evaluating is pretty simple. Is the Bible primary or secondary? Are Christian books supporting material or are they the focus? Can you sit through an entire meeting without opening your Bible?
If you are searching for a women’s Bible study to attend, look for one that values Scripture first.
If you are already participating in a study and realize that the Bible has become secondary or even obsolete, you can be the one to change that.
Challenge yourself and the others to answer discussion questions with Scripture. Come prepared with a verse that came to mind as you read. When questions arise or struggles are shared, try asking, “Well, what does the Bible say about that?”
2. Are Multiple Generations and Life Stages Represented?
It’s easy to divvy people up by age or the stage of life they are in. We have young people’s studies (age), college and careers studies (life stage), and young mom’s studies (life stage).
As with book studies, there’s nothing wrong with getting together with people that share your experiences. However, limiting ourselves to fellowship with people who are similar to ourselves both breeds cliques and restricts the perspectives and experiences available to the group.
Imagine being part of a women’s Bible study specifically for young mom’s. When one mom shares a struggle she’s having, many others are likely to sympathize. Advice will be shared. Stories of similar struggles will be passed around. You’re all in it together and there’s a feeling of solidarity because of similarity.
Now imagine being part of a women’s Bible study with a few young moms, a few grandmothers, and some women who haven’t started families yet. The same young mom shares her struggle. Another young mom sympathizes and shares a resource she’s using.
Next one of the grandmothers shares how her child did the same thing, but she has the age and experience to share how it turned out and give both of the younger mothers encouragement that they’re doing okay and this season of life doesn’t last forever.
Meanwhile, the women who haven’t started families yet are listening and learning. Maybe they have more time available and they volunteer to babysit to give the young mom a chance to rest and recoup. Or maybe their fears of starting a family are lessened.
Titus 2 instructs the older women to be teachers of good, training the younger women how to be godly wives and mothers. This Biblical practice can’t happen if we are isolated from one another.
If you are searching for a women’s Bible study, consider looking for one with a variety of ages and life stages.
If you are part of a Bible study that tends to exclude people of different ages and life stages, consider challenging the status quo.
Suggest asking an older woman to lead a study or share her experience regarding a certain topic. Invite a single friend to come to the study with you so she has a buddy and doesn’t feel like an outsider with all the mom talk. Host an evening gathering at your home so that the women who work can participate.
3. Is There a Balance of Truth and Grace?
“I don’t go there anymore because the ladies are catty.”
Regardless of the terminology used, a lack of grace and compassion drives people away instead of inviting them into community. A women’s Bible study should be a place of friendship and safety.
When a group of people gather to study the Bible, they automatically share something in common. They value Scripture.
Maybe some women send their children to school while others homeschool. Maybe one woman wears skirts exclusively and everyone else has no problem with jeans.
There’s no place for an “us versus them” mentality among Christians. We’re in this together.
Our goal isn’t to win the argument or prove that our kids are excelling the most. Instead, our goal should be to point each other towards Christ, mutually learn to understand his Word, and collectively serve Him well.
On the flip side of the coin, we shouldn’t be so concerned with fitting in and not offending that we allow misinterpretation of Scripture to go unchecked. The Bible is not everything it is perceived to be.
There are ways to redirect without being unkind. Try, “I’m not sure that’s what the writer meant. If you look at the context…” or “That’s one way of looking at it. If you compare it to this other reference, though, you get a different perspective.”
If you are looking for a Bible study, look for one that is neither catty nor passive.
If you are part of a Bible study, be a champion of inclusion and Biblical accuracy. Intentionally talk to someone who is a little bit different from everyone else. Make an effort to understand the background and perspectives different women bring to the discussion.
If the Scripture is wrongly interpreted, be kind but say something! Humbly point to other verses that shed more light on the subject.
You may also like: 7 Best Bible Study Apps for Christian Women — All Free!
Of course, there are many other facets to women’s Bible studies, but these broad categories will help you begin the process of evaluation. To recap:
- Look for a gathering of women that dives into God’s Word together. Show that you value the Scripture by making comments and asking questions that cause your women’s Bible study to open their Bibles and dig deeper.
- Look for a Bible study that includes women of several different ages and life stages. If your group is too homogenous, be the one who mixes it up! Invite a single friend, host an evening gathering that is accessible for working women, or invite an older woman to share from her experience.
- Look for a women’s Bible study that balances truth and grace. Be a safe place for other women by refusing to have an “us versus them” mentality. Cultivate relationships instead of competition, but don’t be passive about Biblical accuracy. Be unified in seeking an accurate understanding of God’s Word.
How have you been blessed by a women’s Bible study? Where do you see room for improvement in women’s ministries?
Latest posts by Leah E. Good (see all)
- What is Righteousness in the Bible? (Plus 3 Ways to Pursue It) - December 16, 2019
- What Rahab in the Bible Can Teach Us About Empathy - November 11, 2019
- What to Look for In a Women’s Bible Study - September 30, 2019