When asked what has most encouraged their walk with Christ, female churchgoers pointed to Bible studies more than any other activity (32%).
By Mary Margaret West
To know God, you have to know His Word. As believers, it’s the cornerstone of our understanding, and it’s a lifelong journey of learning and growing. You can’t separate knowing God from His Word. At the end of the day, every believer is individually responsible for their spiritual growth and biblical literacy. But the church plays a huge role in this process.
According to Lifeway Research’s State of Ministry to Women report, one of the greatest ways churches can foster engagement and spiritual growth among women is by offering opportunities for them to be in Bible study with one another. As someone who has participated in women’s Bible studies in various contexts over the last two decades, I’m not surprised by these research findings. When asked which women’s ministry offerings have most encouraged their walk with Christ, female churchgoers pointed to Bible studies more than any other activity (32%).When asked which women’s ministry offerings have most encouraged their walk with Christ, female churchgoers pointed to Bible studies more than any other activity (32%). Click To Tweet
Hungry for Bible studies
As a women’s ministry leader in my own church, I see on a regular basis how hungry women are to be in Bible study. Their desire for growth and knowledge is exciting, and it’s why 1 in 5 (20%) female churchgoers say their own Bible study is the most helpful thing they do for their spiritual development. Another 1 in 10 (10%) say group Bible studies in their community are most helpful in their spiritual development. Bible study is the launching pad for other spiritual disciplines and for further engagement in the local church.
In the same vein, small group Bible study cannot replace the practice of studying the Bible individually. Personal growth happens when you read and study Scripture and let it work on your heart. Groups are great for discussion, community, and accountability. But they are no substitute for spending time in God’s Word by yourself. Bible study has a way of exposing the truth, correcting, bringing up questions, and challenging each of us. Bible-teaching events fit into the same category. They are beneficial and a supplement but not the primary way women will fully engage in learning from Scripture.
Making groups work
I am encouraged and challenged by these results, and I pray you are as well. Whether you’re a pastor or women’s ministry leader, don’t overlook Bible study when it comes to women in your church. Create opportunities for all women to have the chance to participate. This often means childcare and other considerations need to be taken into account. Working women need opportunities outside of a morning Bible study offered at the church. Moms typically need childcare, and sometimes that cost needs to come out of a church budget. If you’re hitting roadblocks, ask your women to help you create some solutions to potential problems. It’s amazing how creative a group of women can be! What would it look like to host Bible studies in homes around your city or town?
We often make Bible study more complicated than it needs to be, or we let potential hurdles get in the way of us truly providing effective ways for women to grow. What excuses have you made when it comes to women’s Bible study?“Bible study is the launching pad for other spiritual disciplines and for further engagement in the local church.” — @marymargaretc Click To Tweet
Preparing for Bible studies
Let’s clearly define the term Bible study. Some churches offer book clubs, discussion groups, or other activities that are different than Bible studies. These are great options, but they don’t fall under a “one size fits all” category. At the heart of it, Bible study is simple; it always involves God’s Word and opportunities for growth and challenge.
Pastors and ministry leaders must also consider who is leading Bible studies for women in the church. Are the women leading (or who you’re considering asking to lead) women known for their love of God’s Word? Or are they just women with a great reputation? Do they have the opportunity to speak into what the church is offering women? Is it an area of passion for them? Are they a natural teacher who has the ability to lead instead of facilitate a study?
Engaging women in Bible studies
In the State of Ministry to Women, when women’s ministry leaders were asked from a list which two things have been most effective at encouraging women on their faith journey with Christ, leaders overwhelmingly selected Bible studies (80%). Leaders in churches can see it, and women experience it. The Word of God is transformative, and we have to let it do its work.
There’s something that happens when women gather around the Bible that is different than any other context in which you find a group of women. Bible study drives community and conversation and can be a unifying experience. Women of various generations should have the opportunity to learn alongside one another and learn from each other’s experiences.
Accessibility to Bible studies has never been greater. Whether it’s streaming teaching videos online, digital versions of studies, or global availability, we are living in a time where we are without excuse. And at the end of the day, God’s Word is all you need. Everything else is a tool and resource meant to supplement.“At the end of the day, God’s Word is all you need. Everything else is a tool and resource meant to supplement.” — @marymargaretc Click To Tweet
The investment is worth the work. Bible studies are a proven way to engage women in community and spiritual growth, which trickles down into women leading, discipling, and being more engaged in the life of the church. Whether or not you have a dedicated women’s ministry leader, is your church actively providing opportunities for women to study Scripture together? If not, there’s no time like now to start. Don’t miss the chance to engage families by engaging women in Bible study.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.