TIPS FOR STARTING A BIBLE STUDY
- Pray (Matthew 7:7)
- Prepare (1 Corinthians 14:40)
- Promote (Jeremiah 31:10)
PRAY: Start all things with prayer.
- Pray for direction.
Ask Him to give you discernment in choosing a core team.
Ask His blessing on all involved.
- Thank God for the opportunity to share His Word.
PREPARE: Getting started
Preparations for a Parish-based Bible study:
- Choose materials.
- Obtain permission from the pastor.
- Determine amount of space that will be needed.
- Secure room(s).
- Set day and time of meetings.
- Decide on class format and length of classes.
- Develop core team.
- Plan registration process.
- Leadership meetings.
Bible Study Materials/Books: Always choose good Catholic materials/books for your study.
Permission: It is important to seek not only your pastor's permission but also his blessing. Get him involved as much as possible, according to his willingness and availability.
Space Availability: The parish secretary usually is the one who determines the availability of rooms, so be sure to check with him/her to secure the room(s) that you will need. Choose more than one day and time to discuss with the secretary, as the day and time for your study may depend on availability of space.
Secure Room: Be sure to have room(s) secured for the duration of the study; i.e., if your study will last several weeks, have the secretary book the room for this length of time. You may want to reserve the space for a couple extra weeks, providing for any cancellations of classes, which would cause the study to go on longer than anticipated. You can always cancel the reservation later, if not needed.
Day and Time: You may have a day/time of preference for the study, but space may not be available at the time you have chosen. Therefore, go to the parish secretary with options and let him/her advise you on what is available.
Class Format and Duration: The format will depend on the size of the class. For instance, if you have more than twenty people enrolled, it is best to divide the members into small groups to discuss the study questions. There should be between eight to twelve people in a group with one facilitator in each group. If you have less than twenty, one person can lead the class, opening with prayer, reading the Scripture, and leading the discussion. Always end each class with prayer. Class time will depend on depth of study and amount of questions. Usually a class should not be less than one hour or exceed an hour and a half. Encourage participants to come to each session prepared by reading the material and study questions prior to the class.
Core Team: You will need assistance, so prayerfully discern and choose a few people to help you. You should have an assistant-someone who will handle all administrative duties such as taking attendance, making phone calls or sending e-mails, handling registration, and acting as a liaison with the parish office staff. If more than twenty people register for the study, the members should divide into small groups for discussion. You will need a facilitator to lead each group. The amount of facilitators will be determined by the number of people enrolled in the study, i.e., if forty people register, you should have four facilitators (ten in each group, plus the group leader).
Registration: There are several ways to handle registration:
- Choose a Sunday for registration and announce it in the bulletin. Have a table set up after each Mass for registration.
- Put registration forms in a conspicuous location in the church and announce in bulletin where the forms are available. Be sure to include an address where they should send the completed form.
- Announce a meeting time in the bulletin. At the meeting give details about the study and have registration forms available. Registration forms should include space for the following information: name, address, and e-mail and/or phone number. If you need to contact the people prior to class, you will then have their contact information to do so. On the registration form give clear information concerning the time, starting date, and location of the sessions. Also, provide the subject matter of the study, the cost for the book or materials, and how they can be attained.
Leadership Meetings: Plan to meet with your core team prior to the first day of class. At that time cover all that you will do at the first session. If you will have small discussion groups, you will need to assign members to each facilitator. The core team should go over the homework questions for the first lesson in the study, making sure that everyone has a good understanding of the lesson and is prepared for the discussion. The core team should meet prior to each class if possible.
PROMOTE: Spread the Word
Make posters announcing the study and, after receiving permission, post them in the parish church.
- Place announcements in the parish bulletin.
- Send out e-mails to friends and relatives telling them about the study.
- Ask your pastor's permission to speak briefly about the study during the time for announcements at Sunday Masses.
© 2004 Gail Buckley