A Basic Bible Study

The Bible study template I use each week.

Bible Study has started again for 2016. I lead a group of about 6-8 people to read a passage from the Bible, discuss it, think about how it applies to us, and then pray for one another (and others outside the group too).

As I’m busy doing too many things through the week, here’s the template I work through each week.

The main aim is to get people to engage with the Bible itself (as opposed to current family situation, random goings on at work, or tangents arising from the passage).

Secondary aims are:

  1. Minimal effort on the leader’s part (me).
  2. Minimal effort on members’ part (so we don’t require a theological degree to participate).
  3. All done and dusted in 90 minutes.

Chose The Passage

Depending on the part of the Bible, the passage may be half a chapter, a whole chapter, or several chapters.

Currently, we’re working through Galatians, so it’s about half a chapter each week.

Once a book from the Bible is chosen, we work through it in order. The rule is we never skip anything.

Read The Passage (Out Loud)

Someone from the group reads the passage out loud. Sometimes two people will read for longer passages.

Different people understand and comprehend in different ways, and the out loud bit is supposed to help. I’m quite surprised how often I notice something I had missed during my preparation just because it’s read out loud (though perhaps it just reflects my poor preparation).

Re-Read The Passage and Write Questions and Impacts

We spend 5-10 minutes re-reading the passage by ourselves. With the aim of considering it more deeply. 5-10 minutes is usually a little too long, so people have to think.

As we do this, we write down any questions we have about the passage. And anything which jumps out at us or strikes us as important (impacts). And make a note of which verse the question / impact comes from.

In my Western evangelical world, the idea of questioning the Bible to help understand it is par for the course. Indeed, if I wasn’t asking questions I’d feel like I wasn’t doing the passage justice.

But I’m highly conscious that people from different backgrounds and cultures would find questioning the Bible (or the leader, or both) a terrible crime. So the idea of impacts allows people to note something down without feeling like its ‘wrong’. In all honesty, it also make those from my Western culture think outside their own little box.

The impacts often skip down to the Application part below, but that’s OK.

Also, the level of depth is entirely set by the group. If people want to delve deep and ask tricky theological questions, that’s fine. If they’d rather keep it basic, no problems. Either way, the outcome of taking something away from the passage isn’t much different.

We Read One of Our Questions and Impacts

Everyone goes gets the chance to read one of the questions and impacts.

And we don’t answer them.

(This does cause some discomfort and anxiety among members at this point).

The idea is to raise ideas and perspectives on the passage. And it’s pretty common to get some unexpected or unconventional comments at this point, but that’s OK. There aren’t really wrong things to say.

We only read a single question and impact each at this point. Often people have more, which we can come back to later, but the restricted number helps focus us on what appears important.

We Discuss the Questions and Impacts

This is where the bulk of the time is spent. Perhaps 20-40 minutes.

We aim to answer some of the questions raised. And more generally discuss the passage, often based on people’s impacts.

The main role for me as leader is to point people back to the passage (or wider Bible) to find answers.

“What does the passage say?”

“Does another verse help?”

“Keep reading and we’ll see if we find the answer”

The other main thing I do is to re-phrase and re-raise the questions people have already asked.

There isn’t really any aim here other than interacting and trying to understand the Bible.

We Write a Summary

After the discussion, its quite likely people feel that they have not really wrapped things up. That there are loose ends.

On one hand, if there are questions not answered in the passage, I’m happy to leave those unanswered. Those need to be answered from other parts of the Bible (possibly in the coming weeks).

But it helps to remember the passage if we develop a summary.

Each person writes a summary. Then we give opportunity for people to read them.

Often there will be a couple of members who can put together a really eloquent summary. If so, there’s no need for me to read mine, but I can if it will help.

We Think About How the Passage Applies to Us

A passage from the Bible unapplied might as well be wasted. So we spend a few minutes noting down something to apply based on the passage.

There are four categories, for which you choose one to write something down:

  1. Change your Heart - does the passage mean we need to change how we think or affect our heart? Something which needs to change deep inside us.
  2. An Action to Do - does the passage call or command us to do something? Should we act differently because of it?
  3. Pray - does the passage drive us to pray to God? Give thanks, say sorry. Not just for ourselves, think of others too.
  4. Share - can you share something from the passage with a friend? Doesn’t need to be

Often we can think of something under each category, but its important to choose one and only one. It can (and should) vary from week to week though.

We can share these, or possibly not.

Finally we pray for each other based on the passage.

We Pray for One Another and the Wider World

This isn’t directly related to the passage. It’s good to spend this time sharing what’s going on in our lives. And then praying for one another.

It’s also important here to remember that we don’t just pray for each other. We need to lift our eyes up to our wider church, community and world.

This takes 20-30 minutes. And yes, spend the time to do this well.


This is what I work through each week at a Bible study.

It’s certainly not rocket science (or even computer science). Just reading, thinking, trying to understand, and letting the Bible shape our lives. Together.