Welcome to The Depths of Grace, a four part bible study series, exploring Jonah. The series will jump right in, so it’ll be helpful to give a brief outline of each session and how you might like to run it.
Begin with some time catching up and chatting. This will allow people to get themselves settled and to start to share life with one another. You might also consider an icebreaker question, especially if your group is quite new. The aim here to get everyone talking and ready to contribute as the session progresses.
When the time comes to transition into the study, it is best to mark this clearly. A moment of prayer is a great way to transition. Starting the study in prayer sets the right posture for the time ahead. As a group, you turn your attention onto God and give the evening over for Him to speak through the Bible.
Each study is made up of three sections: (1) Bible Passages; (2) Brief Notes; (3) Discussion Questions. It is worth discussing each in turn.
After prayer, read the bible passages together. The key here is not to rush. Allow time for God’s word to sink in. Consider reading the passage twice with a pause in between. Another option is to set a timer, ask everyone to read it themselves and reflect on it before coming together to read it once through as a group.
Whatever you do, the key is not to rush. As the leader it can be easy to already feel familiar with the passage. Don’t assume that everyone else is familiar too. Give time for them to get used to the passage and to begin to form their own thoughts about it.
One final note: Sometimes the passages will be long. Do not shy away from this. Still take the time to read the whole passage. Who knows what God might communicate through some obscure section of scripture!
The Brief Notes provide a basic commentary for the passage. As the leader it will be worth familiarising yourself with these notes before the session however you decide to use them. There are a number of options for how you might use these notes, here are two:
Feel free to use the notes as you choose. They are there to serve you.
Each session ends with a sizeable list of discussion questions. There is no need to answer every question as a group. Your wisdom and discretion as the leader come very much into play here: it is down to you to facilitate a guided discussion centring around the passage. As such the questions are a helpful toolbox and not a restrictive list.
You will find it helpful to read the questions through before the session starts. It is good practice to go through the whole session on your own ahead of meeting with your group. As you do so, ask God to guide you, think about the members of your group and the questions which might prompt life-changing discussion.
Life changing discussion is what you are aiming for. Yes, aim to get everyone talking but, most of all, aim to facilitate a conversation which allows the truth of scripture to bed down into the everyday lives of your group. There is no simple 3 step solution to this but two things will help:
Make sure to finish well. This might not mean a tidy finish. Sometimes it will be good to let some go on discussing whilst giving others permission to go. If you do this, make sure that it is well communicated. It’s not fun being stuck in a meeting when you want to go to bed, even if that meeting is with close friends!
If discussion comes to a natural end, it is good to end in prayer. You might want to pray in smaller groups. Prayer can be related to the study, but it is also worth allowing group members to ask one another for prayer where they feel need.
Time will fly by when you meet. Think about some general timings ahead of the meeting and try your best to stick to them. This will be helped by prior planning. It is best practice to go through the session yourself ahead of the meeting. This will ensure you know the passage and have thought through some of the trickier bits before meeting. It’ll also clear your headspace to really meet with those in your group.