I'm going into my tenth year of teaching God's word, and I can tell you without a doubt what I want out of a Bible study. Variety. Our group does our best studying in the fall, so we offer an in-depth study with daily homework in September. Mid-winter, we're still going pretty strong, so we can do another in-depth one. If we end our study and still have December to go, I like to find a short book or study on Advent and Christmas. Come spring, kids' sports pick up, Michigan snow gives way (slowly, ever so slowly) to sunshine, and spring fever starts to hit. Attendance gets sporadic. We need to do a lighter, shorter study then. If it fits with our scheduling, I enjoy taking a closer look at Lent and Easter in March and April. In the summer, I prefer doing more of a book club format, so if a lady misses a week or two due to being out-of-town, she can still keep up with the reading.
There's more. If a group reaches a point where there are lots of new faces, and the women don't know each other well, look for what I call a "self-help" Bible study. We've done studies on anger management, finding your identity in Christ, motherhood, etc. If you have a group of newer Christians, there are studies that offer a great foundation. My personal favorite are the ones that walk students through an entire book of the Bible one verse at a time. If the leader of a group is also a gifted teacher, use studies that give her a chance to offer input from the researching she's done on her own (this can make the hour-long DVD studies overwhelming at times). If your leader is more of a facilitator, the DVD series are excellent because a leader can place her focus on being organized, timely and including all of the women in the group.
All that being said, I love me a good Bible study! I've even helped promote a few through social media launches. I've worked with Grand Rapids author, Cindy Bultema, on promoting a few of her studies. Also, Moody Publishers have contacted me on a few occasions about their new women's Bible study line of products. I'm going to tell you about these studies in this post, explaining when I'd like to offer them to our group and why. I did receive copies of the study guides for each of these studies in exchange for my honest opinion about the material.
Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World by Cindy Bultema (DVD & Study Guide; 6-week study)
First of all, see how fun it is to get a book launch package in the mail?! Black streamer packaging, a handwritten note, Scripture cards, a small notepad and the study guide. If you know a writer who's working her booty off doing the writing and promoting of a book, give them a hug, buy the book and write an online review. In that order. We're starting off our Bible study year with this study on 1 Corinthians. It's a beautiful book. There's a look at biblical culture, a journey into several books of the Bible in order to understand Corinthians specifically, and application questions as well. An approximately 30-minute DVD session accompanies each week of study.
Included in Christ: Living A New Story From Ephesians by Heather Holleman (Study Guide; 8-week study)
This one takes a group through a study of Ephesians. This study focuses on application.The author shares parts of her story, and participants share theirs by answering questions throughout. It would lend itself to some great group discussion where you could get to know one another better. I'd probably use this study for our spring session and with a group who needs to get to know one another better.
His Last Words: What Jesus Taught And Prayed In His Final Hours by Kim Ericsson (Study Guide; 7-week study)
I'm going to go with the obvious choice on this one and say I'd like to do this study during the Lenten season. Wouldn't it be amazing to take an in-depth look at John 13-17 during the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday? The author examines each character involved in the story as well. Any time your group wants to take a closer look at Jesus and his disciples, this study would offer excellent insight.
The Unexplainable Church: Reigniting The Mission Of The Early Believers by Erica Wiggenhorn (Study Guide; 10-week study)
The title alone gets me excited about this one. We would tackle this jam-packed study, full of church history, New Testament characters and cultural discoveries, in the fall or winter. I'd need my ladies ready to learn a ton of new information. Participants make their way through Acts 13-28, and walk away realizing that early believers have much to teach us about modern Christianity.
Pierced And Embraced: 7 Life-Changing Encounters With The Love Of Christ by Kelli Worrall (7 Chapters)
Our Bible study group meets year-round, and we don't always do a Bible study per se. We've also done video series and read books. We select ones that still offer a very biblical basis, and will often look up accompanying Scripture as we read the book. We often do these in the summer. This book by Kelli Worrall would be an excellent one for this format. Each chapter looks at a woman who has an encounter with Jesus. You study her story in Scripture, and read application stories from today too. Each chapter ends with reflection and discussion questions.