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Lead, Don’t Teach

You notice that in all of the material, the task of teaching is never mentioned. So what is leading?

  • Leaders do not like the sound of their voices.
  • Leaders know the right questions to stimulate thought and personal growth.
  • Leaders guide, nurture, and mentor by example. They live their lessons.
  • Leaders humbly accept the premise that there may be people in the group that know more than they do. They listen and encourage participation.
  • Leaders make sure that the values and traditions to be taught are not compromised. They are willing to stand up for their faith.
  • Leaders invite the Holy Spirit to be a member of their group.


There is no more important point to stress than the need to enter a group Bible Study prepared. Discussion-oriented studies wander based on the interests, levels of experience, and backgrounds of those in the group. Before starting the study, the leader should do the following:

  • Decide how much time do you have. You owe it to the group to cover all of the material and end on time.
  • Start on time. Don’t delay the start because someone is late. Again, you owe it to your group to be prompt, thorough, and complete.
  • Don’t make it a history lesson. While the Bible is filled with wonderful history, target your lesson to change lives. Intellect and knowledge do not save. A humble and repenting heart placed in Christ’s hands is the road to salvation.
  • Determine the point of your study. Don’t try to cover too much. Answer this question, “What is it you want each member of your study group to do differently after they leave?” Make this the aim of your lesson. One life-changing point is enough per lesson.
  • Do research, read supplemental materials, use a study guide or plan.
  • Bring notes. It is OK. There is a lot of information and it is perfectly all right to bring it to help you do a good job.


Do what comes naturally. That is a great point about leading. There is no right or wrong way. Just step out in faith. If there are people following you, then you are leading correctly.

Keep the style discussion-oriented. The varied experiences of your group can help teach each other. Encourage a difference of opinion. However, be prepared to defend the tenets of your faith. By this, I mean that there are fundamentals of your faith that you should know. If someone strays or is in error, as the leader, you must bring them back on track. You are leading a Bible Study, not an open forum on religious beliefs.

Don’t Guess

It is not unusual to have someone ask a question that you do not know the answer for. In varied groups that are open to discussion, you will always have someone who is seeking clarification of something that you are unprepared to answer. If you do not know, don’t guess. Just take notes and follow up. Do research and, the following week, include the answer in your next lesson plan. You owe it to your group to do the best job you can of presenting the Gospel’s message accurately. New leaders should check out the study on Leading The Flock.

Open with Prayer

Each lesson should open with an introduction of visitors, a discussion of needed prayers and prayers, directed at opening the hearts and minds of your group. The best studies rely on the Holy Spirit to be present.

Be Flexible

If during the lesson, you discover that someone within your group has a deep concern or issue, try to help them. You are better off dropping the lesson and helping each other than sticking to a fixed agenda. Christ always took care of the needs of His followers before He changed their lives.

For large groups, break into smaller groups for parts of the lesson. It is often fun to assign a research task to smaller groups and let them work independently for 10 or 15 minutes. Letting others report back is a nice way of breaking in future leaders.

Let others speak. This is the hardest part for people who want to teach. However, one of the goals of Bible Study should be to give people the opportunity to share their faith with others. Faith sharing is best learned by practicing in small groups. Everyone should be encouraged to tell stories, share experiences and participate. If each member of your group becomes comfortable with telling what their life was like before Christ was important to them, how they came to know Christ, placing Him as the number one priority, and how their life is different now, you have just helped build a group of evangelists.


As a group leader, you hold a responsibility to make sure that the message being taught is understood correctly. I once heard it said, “The lips are responsible for what the ears hear.” This means that unless you get feedback, you don’t know what people understood. Leaders have a much better chance to listen than teachers do.

Be Creative

Use little things to drive home points.

Music or poetry to open or close a study.

Use the Internet to search out articles or current events that can be tied to your topic.

Use demonstrations:

To show how Christ is the light of mankind (See the first chapter of John), give each person a candle and then darkened the room. Light a match. The match, small as it is, will overcome the darkness. There is an important message in this example (Darkness cannot overcome Christ, Christ overcomes darkness). Then each person shares the flame and the room will light up. There is another important message (by sharing Christ, our world grows brighter).

To highlight to a group that we must work together to accomplish God’s earthly plans, hand out 3X5 index cards and a large box of crayons. Ask each person to pick his or her favorite color and take a card. When everyone is ready, simply asked each person to draw a rainbow. The point is suddenly clear. Read Genesis 9:13 to the group, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” This supports the need for diversity and cooperation. To draw a rainbow, we cannot use only our favorite color, we need the uniqueness of each creation of God (each other’s colors also).

You can buy peacock feathers at your local fabric/craft shop. They are about three feet long. Buy several and hand them out. Tell your group to balance the feathers on the end of their finger. You show them first (the secret is below). This is the quill down and the colorful end of the feather up. You should have no trouble with people struggling to do this, it’s hard. — Now for the secret. — Most people look at their finger or halfway up the feather. Instead, concentrate on the very end (the colorful part) and as you move your finger to compensate, use the top of the feather as your focal point. The lesson learned is much like the one taught in the Bible: Focus on the goal, the end prize, the finish, not the start. Once they know the secret, you will have your whole group balancing feathers on the end of their finger.

Purchase a plumb bob (plumb line) from your local building supplies. Read the Old Testament Book of Amos 7:7-8, “This is what he showed: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. The the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.” Now, Who is the plumb line? Christ of course. Demonstrate that no matter how you stand, straight or crooked, a plumb line hangs true. That is our Christ, straight and true. If we use Christ as our “plumb line” to measure our lives against, our lives will, like the wall, be built true.  (See A Very Short Children’s Story About Amos)

Hand out props:

Go to a local building supplier and purchase the largest nails you can. Each person gets a nail that should be almost 10 inches long and 3/8 of an inch in diameter. If you want to draw someone’s attention to the sacrifice our Savior made for use on that cross, just put a big nail in his or her hands while you talk about it.

Go to a fabric center. Purchase some royal colored velvet. Cut in into two inch squares. If you want to prove what Christ gave up for us, just ask everyone to close their eyes and touch their piece of velvet. They are to imagine the feel of a king’s robe. Christ traded velvet robes for the cross and our salvation. Ask everyone to place the cloth in their pocket or purse for a week. Each time they touch it, they should reflect upon the lesson.

These are just a few ideas that can help people understand God’s Word. If you come up with others that you would like to share, just email them to Lostpine and we will add them here.

Close in Prayer

Give thanks to God for the freedom to study. In much of the world, this must be done behind closed doors.