She walked into the room and her eyes quickly took in the situation. Did she know anyone? Was there an empty chair? Had she brought everything with her she would need? It was her first time to Bible study.
If this describes you, let me tell you first of all, you’re going to be so pleased you stepped out of your comfort zone. Of all the things I’ve done in my Christian walk over the years, studying the Bible has grown my faith more than any other discipline. It is a discipline. Starting today, you’re forming a habit of spending a few minutes of time in God’s word each day. There are days (and studies) that will be dry. You’ll get confused and maybe even frustrated. Remember these words of God, penned by Isaiah:
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Isaiah 55:11 Message)
Now, let’s put aside any misgivings you have about being here. Tell the enemy you have a place at this table (because you do) and here are some tips to help you get started:
Let yourself be known
I’ve attended Bible study with some of the same women for nine years now. We know each other pretty well and we’re comfortable. When a new person walks in, I have to remind myself it can be hard for them because they don’t know the background of the individuals around the room like others of us do. I promise you’ll get there though! Jump right in with bits and pieces of your story. Ask for clarification if someone shares something about themselves you don’t quite understand. We all have a desire to be known. Let’s get to it!
Ask these people to pray for you
While the group you’re with is far from perfect, they’re seeking more of God. It’s a time of spiritual growth for them and those are the kind of people I want praying for me. Because I know when I ask them to pray, they’ll really do it. Take the time of prayer request seriously. God loves it when we pray for one another.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
I can’t speak for every Bible study teacher out there, but I love new people in my studies. Especially if they’re new to studying the Bible. Maybe they’ve been in church their entire life, but haven’t actually read their Bible much. Or some are brand new Christians and they have everything to learn. I get so excited to dig in with these folks. No one knows all the answers, but we’re on a journey to learn more together. Sometimes my ladies will ask their questions right there in the class, but I get a lot of emails too. Nothing delights me more than walking through a difficult passage or explaining scriptural context.
Do the work
Most studies offer a time of homework throughout the week. I’d encourage you to complete as much of this work as you can. You’ll learn a lot in the group time, but nothing is sweeter, or more beneficial, than the work you’ll do alone with God during the week. Plus, it gives you a greater confidence when you go back to Bible study the following week, knowing you’ve done the assignments.
Use other resources
I could go on and on here. There are a ton, a ton, of people who have received more schooling and studied longer and harder than you or your Bible study teacher. Get yourself a good Bible commentary. I have a book on maps and charts I absolutely adore. We live in an age of information overload, so do your research and find the resources that help you the most. I'd also encourage you to compare various translations in yours study. Jesus didn't write the King James Version and you'll find a rich variety of words and phrases to help you understand what the original Hebrew and Greek communicated.
Expect God to show up
It might seem completely overwhelming at first. There’s so much to learn! You should feel that way because you’re right! My mom started attending Bibles studies on a regular basis in her early 20’s. She’d grown up in the church but only knew the very basic Sunday School stories. She knew a lot of what the group would discuss might go over her head. Looking back, though, she realizes the Holy Spirit was at work. He gave her the information to meet her where she was in her faith walk. After forty years in Bible study, she’s still gleaning new information. God will do the work as you’re faithful to the task.
Really, it’s all very exciting! For those of you ready to take this Bible study stuff very seriously, you’re in for a time of rich blessing. I’d like to help with that. Moody Publishers has published a couple excellent women’s Bible studies and they sent me copies to review. Both are extremely affordable and available in print or e-book formats. I’m going to tell you about them below, right before giving two lucky readers a copy of these studies. Be sure to enter! Keep studying.
I Am Found: Quitting the Game of Hide and Seek With God and Others - This title really fits the post, doesn’t it? Author Laura Dingman takes her participants all the way back to the beginning, when shame and secrecy got their start. Through a series of questions and answers, you’ll explore how Adam and Eve responded to their sinful choice. We’ll see God’s response as well. Shame is not going away; it’s in our human nature. This study shows us how to rise above it, by admitting it out loud and realizing God loves you unconditionally and has forgiven us wholly. This study is a six-week book study.
An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonder and Devotion of the Early Church - This study covers the first part of Acts, one of my favorite books in the Bible. While Genesis is the beginning of, well, everything; Acts is the beginning of the church. A most exciting time! Author Erica Wiggenhorn offers many history lessons, while helping her participants apply the truths found in this book authored by Luke. If you’re interested in learning more about this time period, this thick book offers excellent insight. This study is a ten-week book study.
I received a copy of I am Found: Quitting the Game of Hide and Seek With God and Others, written by Laura Dingman; and An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonder and Devotion of the Early Church, written by Erica Wiggenhorn, from Moody Publishers for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are the from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.