No matter how many years you may have attended a Bible study, the idea of leading a Bible study can be quite intimidating for many people. There is a stigma in our church culture that Bible study leaders must be in some sort of “Super-Christian” category where they don’t struggle with sin, that they must be theologians, and that they are fearless in their leading. And that’s very wrong.
Unfortunately, so many of us also buy into the lie that a Bible study must look a certain way. For instance, if there aren’t 10-15 girls who meet faithfully each week in your home at precisely 6pm for a homemade dinner followed by two hours of intense Scripture reading, deep discussions, and heartfelt prayer time, you aren’t doing it right. Again, that’s just wrong.
Here’s the deal. Satan wants you to believe that you are inadequate. That you don’t have enough time. That you aren’t smart enough. That you don’t have enough money. That you aren’t cool enough to connect with teen girls. But, we are here to tell you, that while you may not be enough, God IS enough.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”
We sat down (over video chat!) with three incredible women who are allowing Christ’s power shine through their very different lives as they lead Bible studies with their teen girls. We discussed their method and heart behind the way they lead their Bible studies to remind you that there is no perfect leader and there is no one-size-fits-all pattern to leading a Bible study. Before we get started, let us introduce you to them!
Cassie Pattillo (C) is a student pastor’s wife, a mom to two sweet boys, and in the process of adopting from India! Rachel Frazier (R) is a newlywed, who has the joy of serving full-time as the Middle School Girls Associate in Knoxville, Tennessee. Finally, Melonie Wagner (M) serves on staff full-time as the Student Ministry Associate at First Baptist Mt. Juliet in Tennessee.
Aren’t they the cutest?! Here are 7 questions we asked these ladies and their honest, raw responses just for you:
1. What are the ages of the girls in your Bible study?
C—This is my first time leading middle school! They are all in 6th or 7th grade.
M—In our group, there is a mix of High School with a few 8th graders.
R—I oversee three different groups that are comprised of mostly middle school girls.
2. What are you studying as a group right now?
R—We just finished the studies, Beautiful Story & Beautiful Encounters.
C—My goal is to just teach them the Word directly and how to study the Bible for themselves, so we just finished walking through the book of Ephesians and plan to do an overview of the book of Psalms over the next 8 weeks.
M—Normally, we just go through a book of the Bible together and we may use a Bible study resource as a guide. For instance, we walked through Genesis in the Fall and used Jen Wilkin’s book, God of Creation, as a guide as we prepared the lessons. However, we started the teen girls Bible study Jude by Jackie Hill Perry this month!
3. What is the format of your Bible study time?
M—The girls come over to our house and meet in our bonus room on Saturday mornings. We usually spend the first thirty minutes eating breakfast, then spend about an hour and a half doing the actual Bible study portion.
C—We meet on Sunday nights throughout the school year at the church. In the summer, I do a Bible study at our house.
R—Each group meets either Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning and we try to find a location like a Chick-fil-A or something near the school. I have a group chat with the girls’ moms, and we try to see when it is best to start meeting. Since the girls don’t like to take a break, we usually do a summer Bible study out of someone’s house.
4. What are some of the hardest parts of leading a Bible study?
R—It always depends on who is your group. But, it’s often hard to keep the girls’ attention. Also, only having an hour or so is hard. A lot of the girls are still trying to understand some basic things about the Bible, so when I’m trying to teach a lesson and answer their random, yet important questions about the Bible, it gets hard to keep them on track.
M—Each group has different girls in different places. You don’t want to dumb it down, but you can’t keep it so high level, that you leave the girls who aren’t there in the dust. Also, it’s hard being okay with how our time goes in the study. We put a lot into preparing our lesson and how our time should go, but at the end of the day, we have to be okay with how the Lord leads.
C—Yes to all those things! I would also say a lack of parental commitment is hard. Parents often prioritize other things way more than Biblical knowledge, and middle school kids are fully reliant upon their parents. We desperately need them to be a part of the discipleship process, because dropping your kids off at a Bible study is not discipleship.
5. What do you feel is the most important part of leading a Bible study?
M—Prayer. It’s so easy to become reliant upon my studying and knowledge, and I have to pray and release that to the Lord. We can teach the best lesson, but if the Lord isn’t in it, then nothing else matters.
R—Even if it’s a cliché, teach them the truth. It doesn’t need to be some crazy, creative layout. Jesus will speak through anything that you do. Just ask yourself, “Is the Word being taught?”
C—Exactly, give them the Word. I could know how to use TikTok or have the best games ever planned for them, but if I don’t teach the Word, then nothing else matters.
6. How has leading a Bible study impacted you?
C—For me, it’s held me more accountable. I can’t challenge these girls to be in the Word if I haven’t been. It has made me a better student of the Word, because I want to steward it well and interpret it correctly.
R—Bible studies have made me realize my own pride, and how much I need help from others. I have to rely on other people and the Lord. I’ve also learned how being involved in a Bible study and community myself helps me foster the Biblical community among my girls.
M—Leading a Bible study has completely humbled me and made me very aware that “I don’t know it all” and “I’m never going to know it all.” I am also constantly reminded that leading is a privilege and how much it is a gift of grace from the Lord.
7. What would you say to someone who is nervous about leading a group?
R—You cannot lead others unless you’re leading yourself. No one is perfect in that, but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Also, not all groups of girls you lead will be the same. Girls respond to truth in different ways or in different times. Finally, you don’t have to have all the answers, just make sure to present the truth of God’s Word.
M—If you’re not nervous, it should be a red flag. It IS a big deal. Asking questions like, “Do I have what it takes?” or “Am I prepared?” can often be the stirring of the Holy Spirit to keep you humbled, because it keeps you reliant upon Him. I would also advise you to ask the Lord if He’s calling you to it or if you’re just trying to fill a need. This is a high calling, but if He’s called you to it, He will provide everything you need to fulfill it.
C—We don’t need to overcomplicate it. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day if you are a great teacher, considered cool, or whatever. It matters that your girls know that they are genuinely loved and if you are faithful to teach God’s Word.
If you’re feeling nervous about leading a Bible study or aren’t sure where to start, you’re not alone! Feel free to reach out to us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to come alongside you as you begin leading teen girls through the study of God’s Word!