Strategies for studying the Bible in groups


The goal of a Living Church growth group is to provide a safe environment in which people can pursue maturity in Christ. This environment requires a balance of encouragement, safety, challenge, and knowledge. This paper was written by the Hewlett cluster of growth group leaders, and looks at some of the ways groups can approach the knowledge aspect of personal growth – how to dig deeper into a bible passage in an appropriate way for your group context.

Some different approaches to handling a Bible passage/study in a situation where a study booklet with questions doesn’t quite work.

Use of commentary and other helps

Using a commentary can be very useful to provide some background and backup for the leader. The ‘one pager’ set of notes from the sermon writer is also helpful. Sharing the leadership of the study time with other members of the Growth Group provides a fresh perspective and avoids one person taking on the role of leadership when it comes to the study.

Remain Flexible

The approach to take should be tailored to the group members. Often the questions can be a springboard into other matters that are on the mind of group members. Flexibility is often the key.

Allowing the group to address its own questions

Two main questions such as “What resonates with you in this passage?” and “what application do you see arising out of this passage?” are two good basic questions to use in many situations. People learn best when they are addressing their own questions. Using the regular “R” questions can mean setting the rest of the agenda aside to follow through with what those questions have raised.

Another approach is to give notice that certain difficult or unanswered questions that may have come up out of a general discussion will be dealt with at our next meeting. People can then come prepared for that.

Using alternative set methods of questioning:

A simplistic method suitable for individual use and also in a group setting

  • What does this passage teach me about God?
  • How does this passage find its fulfilment in Jesus if it does?
  • What does this passage teach me about mankind or people?

The Swedish Method

  • Light bulb – something that impacts the reader or strikes the reader
  • Question mark – something you don’t understand ; something you would like to ask the author about.
  • Arrow – something that applies personally to the reader’s life

The COMA Method

  • Context – what sort of writing is this? Are there any clues to the circumstances under which it was written? What has happened so far?
  • Observation – are there any major sub sections or breaks in the text? What are the main point or points? What surprises are there? What are the key words? What words or ideas are repeated?
  • Meaning – how does this section relate to other parts of the book? How does the passage relate to Jesus? What does it tell us about God? How could we sum up the meaning of this passage in our own words?
  • Application – how does this passage challenge or confirm my understanding? Is there some attitude I need to change? How does this passage call on me to change the way I live?