So there you are, standing in the Bible study section of your local Christian bookstore? Or maybe you searched “Bible studies” on Amazon? And now, looking at the massive selection, there is only one word to describe how you feel—
Whether you are a women’s ministry leader selecting the studies you will offer at your church, a small group leader trying to determine the next study your group will do, or you are simply looking for a study to do by yourself at home, the choices are daunting.
Choosing a Bible study is a big deal. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
The 4 Ts of Choosing a Bible Study
I’ve been leading and teaching and even writing Bible studies for the churches where Scott has served for almost twenty years now. It’s a weighty thing to choose a study for others, to know they are depending on you to provide them with quality resources to help them grow in their walk with the Lord. Over the years, I’ve learned there are some questions I can ask to help narrow the field and I thought these might be useful for you as you find curriculum for your small group or women’s ministry or maybe you are looking for a study to do at home.
Text or Topical
I almost always start here, especially when choosing a study for a group — am I looking for a study that focuses on a particular biblical text or one focused on a specific topic? Generally speaking, I urge people to do primarily studies that focus on a biblical texts.
Examples include Jen Wilkin’s 1 Peter, Beth Moore’s Entrusted (2 Timothy), and Kelly Minter’s All Things New (2 Corinthians).
This is not to imply topic-driven studies have no place, I certainly believe they do. But they should be a supplement to a women’s ministry driven primarily by text-focused study. Topical studies are useful for exploring how to apply Scripture to our lives and are especially helpful for those who have a broad knowledge of the Bible and the cohesive nature of all Scripture.
Examples include Priscilla Shirer’s Breathe, Mary Kassain’s Conversation Peace, and Gloria Furman’s Missional Motherhood.
Type of Teaching
Many of the Bible studies you find in the Christian book store include videos with teaching by the author. This has become the default for many women’s ministry leaders … but it shouldn’t be! As with topical studies, teaching videos can be useful but they should never take the place of actual teachers in your church utilizing their gifts. Yes, those women may not be as well-known, they may not have degrees from seminary, or be as comfortable speaking as the women on the videos but there is great value and great need for women being taught in group settings by women they know, women they can observe in real life, and women they can ask questions when they are struggling or need prayer.
Be mindful as you choose study materials not to default to video courses. Open wide the doors for those in your church who have the gift of teaching to use it! There are many studies that are not video-driven and even some that have optional video.
Some you should look at include Life Lessons from Women in the Bible by Rhonda Kelley and Open Your Bible by Raechel Meyers and Amanda Bible Williams.
This is such an important factor! Be sure to consider how much time the study will require—not just for the weekly sessions but also for homework and leader preparation. If you are choosing a study for a one-hour time slot, make sure the video is no more than 12-15 minutes (if applicable). You want to allow plenty of time for discussion and homework review.
Speaking of homework, make sure you look at how much time that will take. I didn’t do this when I was first choosing studies and many women ended up quitting or frustrated by the 45 minutes of homework required each day for one of the studies I chose. There isn’t one right answer for how much homework is appropriate as it will depend on the nature of the group involved. But a wise leader will consider this as she chooses curriculum.
Using these questions as a starting point for your Bible study selection is a great way to narrow the field. There are, of course, many other valid questions or considerations. This is not an exhaustive list but it is a great place to start.
Four important factors to consider when choosing a Bible study. Click To Tweet
How do you choose a Bible study for yourself or for your group?
Links to studies mentioned
these are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission should you purchase through them.
THE book (besides the Bible) every women who teaches a study or wants to grow in her ability to study on her own needs — Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin