Churches often have so many members that it can be hard for people to connect and get to know one another. Small group Bible studies provide an opportunity for members to interact and get to know one another on a more personal level. There are many things to consider if you are thinking of hosting a small group Bible study in your home.
Place, Day and Time
The first decision to be made is where and when you will host your Bible study. Are you willing to host it in your home, so it is more informal? Or will you host it at the church? Do those who will attend have children? Do they work late or get up early? Deciding on the right location and time can make a difference in how successful your study is. If your members have children, an afternoon study may be best, as they won't need to worry about getting home or putting the kids to bed. If there are several members with children, you may want to find a couple of teenagers in the church who would be willing to baby-sit for a few hours while you hold the Bible study.
Once you decide on a day and time, your creative side can come through. When you plan the study, decide on what type of atmosphere you wish to create. If you want a small community environment, you may want to start each session off with a meal. You can have members bring a dish to pass to cut down on your own expenses. If it is in the afternoon, you may want to serve something simple like coffee and desserts. For centuries, people have bonded over food, and it remains a useful, comfortable interaction tool.
Another idea to consider is whether you will have a time of prayer and singing in your group, and if so, will it be before the study or after? Often prayer time can run longer than scheduled, and you will need to consider this in the planning of your small group time slot.
Now that you have the minor issues decided, such as dinner or desserts, you need to make the last major decision--what to study. To be sure that you are studying a Bible topic that your members find relevant to their lives, it is best to let them all have a say in the topic choice. At your first small group Bible study meeting, have an informal session where you get to know each other and then ask each person what topic they would like to learn more about. In the days before the meeting, you could make a list of a variety of topics and present them to the members as ideas for study.
Once the group picks a topic, the next step is to choose the proper curriculum. Will you read a book by itself, or will you add a study guide with it? Will there be "homework" or will you cover everything during your group meeting? Many curriculums have DVD teachings available. Would the members like to learn by that method, or do they prefer a teacher from among the group?
There are many factors to consider when planning a small group Bible study, but the key to success is to make all of your members feel like they are important to the group. The fastest and best way to do that is to let everyone share his opinion on the style of group he desires, as well as the topic you study.