Almost every effective small group I know of does conversational Bible study. Conversational Bible study is simply a conversation built around Scripture (or a sermon) with the goal of unearthing truth and committing to live the truth that was unearthed.
In too many instances, a conversational Bible study ends up being a night of shared ignorance. The problem is that whatever ideas or opinions are left hanging are embraced as being the final word. And when ideas or opinions that are not what God was trying to say are embraced, a night of false teaching has occurred.
When I train small group leaders, I often tell them that, “Lots if ideas and opinions can circle the runway, but the role of the group leader is to be certain only truth lands.”
What are some things we can do to be certain this happens?
- The small group leader must know what God is telling us in the passage being discussed.
- Small group leaders must allow the conversation to take place and opinions to be shared, but the final word must be the truth from God’s Word revealed.
- Study the passage in context. In most instances, this will take care of the issue.
- Ask people to refer to their study Bibles. Most groups have at least two people who carry study Bibles. Most study Bibles explain hard to understand passages.
- When someone says something outlandish, ask the other group members if that’s what they’ve heard taught or preached. It’s much more effective for the group to contradict mistaken interpretations than for the group leader to do this over and again.
Rick Howerton has one passion — to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is pursuing this passion as the small group and discipleship specialist at LifeWay Church Resources.