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Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Outreach/Small Group Bible Study

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Small Group Bible Study
North American Division

See also Small Group Bible Study - Advanced

Skill Level 1
Year of Introduction: 2016



Earning this honor meets a requirement for:

1. Describe, compare, and contrast the following forms of Bible study.

a. Personal Devotion

Personal devotion is time spent alone with God. During this time, a person would typically pray and study His Word. Personal devotion is an excellent way to begin the day, as it sets the stage for how the rest of the day can unfold.

It is similar to small group study in that some of the activities are the same, and that it can be very personal. However, during personal study, the worshiper is sharing only with God, and not with others. It is a good time to reflect on one's sins and seek wisdom from God to know if some action needs to be taken to right any wrongs.

Scheduling personal devotion time is important, and easier than any of the other forms of study since the only person who needs to find the time is you yourself. God is always available, and there is no one else to coordinate with.

Prayer is most often silent during personal devotion, as is reading His Word, as doing these things aloud may draw the attention of others and invite interruption.

b. Small Group

Small group study is when a group of two to eight people gather to pray and study the Word of God. With a small group, bonds can be forged between members of the group, and they can all encourage one another, answer questions, seek and give reassurance, and seek and give advice.

During small group study, if someone has a question, they can simply ask because there are other people there who may be able to answer, and because the setting allows (and encourages) this. During corporate worship, this would be disruptive, but in a small group, it is what drives the discussion and learning.

Unlike the other two forms of Bible study we are looking at here, prayers are usually spoken aloud by several members of the group (sometimes by all), as is reading from the Bible. This is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast various translations of the Bible, as the person reading a passage may have a different translation than you. This allows for deeper exploration of His Word as these differences are discussed.

c. Corporate Worship

During corporate worship, groups larger than eight people come together to worship together and to study God's Word. Because of this format, there is usually a small team of leaders who do most of the speaking, and much of what they say has been prepared ahead of time. They are much less likely to "go off script". This has the benefit of maintaining focus, but at the cost of curtailed exploration. In small group study, the leader will also have prepared ahead of time, but the format allows for "side paths," and the prepared material can be temporarily set aside and returned to.

During corporate worship the congregation will often sing. Though this can also happen in the other two forms, it is special with a large group because the music is more full, and individuals feel less pressure to "perform" since their voices blend in with the group's.

2. Describe, compare, and contrast the following Bible study tools:

a. Concordance

A Concordance is an alphabetical list of words found in the Bible. An exhaustive concordance is an alphabetical list of every word in the Bible. Each entry has a list indicating the book, chapter, and verse of every instance of that word. Some commentaries include some context with each reference. Strongs Concordance also assigns a number to each word in the original language (Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic), and then lists this number next to each instance. This is useful because sometimes a single word in the original language can be translated into multiple words in English, and vice versa.

Learn how to use your Concordance by reading its introduction.

b. Bible Commentary

A Bible Commentary is a transcribed and well organized systematic sequence of insights and clarifications of the Bible. They offer expanded information concerning books of the Bible, chapters, down to a verse by verse account with clear details. Commentaries always come with a viewpoint, and you must be very careful which ones you use. Non-Adventist commentaries will espouse non-Adventist interpretations and doctine. We recommend the SDA Bible Commentary set. which your church library should have (if not, ask your church board to buy the set).

c. Bible Dictionary

A Bible Dictionary is arranged alphabetically by each concept it explores. For example, and entry might describe a person, place, concept, custom, or event. It will offer insights on the concept and the subtleties that may be involved. Each entry is more like an encylopedia entry rather than a dictionary entry.

You can use a Bible Dictionary to study a person from the Bible, and learn such things about that person's as pertains to his (or her) early life, family, major events, and death.

An entry may describe the history of a place, telling you who lived there at various time periods, who ruled the land, how it was conquered, and even where it is today.

3. Discuss with a group the ways that Bible study is essential to the development of a Christian lifestyle.

The best way to know God's will is to know what He had revealed in His Word. The best way to know this is by studying the Bible. It is not enough to rely on second-hand knowledge of the scripture. You should read and study it yourself so that it can be written on your heart! Then when you are faced with a day-to-day decision, you can know the biblical principles involved and make the right choice.

Think about how this scripture applies to Bible study:

Acts 17:11 (NIV)
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

It is only by knowing what the Bible actually says that you will be able to discern truth from falsehood! Though Paul was a great teacher, he was not greater than the scriptures. We must follow the example of the Bereans.

4. Discuss with a group the importance of beginning each small group Bible study with prayer.

Before starting a group study, it is very important that prayers are offered up to the Lord, asking Him to provide the wisdom and the understanding needed to accept His words and His will for us. Pray specifically that He will send the Holy Spirit so that you may get a true understanding of what you are studying.

Remember that the purpose of Bible study is not to prove something that you already believe, but to find out what the Bible itself says. Your prayer should be that the Holy Spirit will open your mind to new (and true!) insights.

5. As a group, and with the guidance of a pastor, elder, or a club staff member, create a detailed list of guidelines for success when participating in a small group Bible study.

When your small groups comes together for the first time, or whenever someone new joins, it's a good idea to go over the guidelines so that everyone knows what to expect and how to behave. The guidelines given here are suggestions - you may add to them, or adapt them as your group sees fit. If your group develops a chronic problem, try to develop a guideline to prevent that from happening in the future.

Start with Prayer
Every meeting begin with prayer. God will send the Holy Spirit to help you understand His Word and inspire you to share things that may help others. Ask Him to do that every time!
Keep the Bible central
If a small group meets to study the Bible and no one ever opens the Bible or reads from it, what has been accomplished?
Encourage one another
An easy way to destroy the small group dynamic is by using the time to tear one another down. Small group study should be used to build the faith of all the members, not to criticize.
Treat one another with respect
Do not be dismissive of anyone's comments. If they say something that is not true, correct them gently. Be very careful to not make anyone feel stupid or unworthy. You may drive them from God's kingdom by doing so. If they say something you disagree with, explain your position without judging them.
Be humble and teachable
Don't assume that you know everything or that you know more than everyone else. If you cannot be taught, you cannot be an effective tool in God's hands. When correcting someone, do so with humility. You may discover that they were right and you were wrong! Do not be afraid of this - it's growth!
Let the Bible teach itself
Do not approach Bible study with the thought of "proving" a preconceived notion. Read what the Bible actually says, and try to understand the context surrounding any passage. Many people have "proven" that we can eat unclean meats by citing Acts 10:9-16. Don't fall into that trap. The context of that verse clearly reveals that the vision was about preaching to the Gentiles, not about eating unclean meat.
Don't discuss the faults of others
If the group enters into a discussion about the faults of an absent member, it is easy to wonder if the group will discuss your when you are gone. This destroys trust.
Don't share private matters outside the group
Small group study can be a time for people to share very personal details of their lives in confidence. Such details should not be shared outside the group. This destroys trust.
Share what you learn about God outside the group
Do share the things you've learned about God with people outside the group. God does not want you to keep the things He has revealed to you to yourself. He wants you to share, and for His kingdom to grow. God's great burden is the salvation of all, and you can be a tool in His hands by sharing.
Have regular meetings
It's a good idea to have a set time for the group to get together. That way members can plan around the meetings, and the meetings are far more likely to be well attended.
End with Prayer
At the end of your study, it's a great idea to pray again. This will help you leave in an uplifted state of mind and ready to share God's word with the world.

6. Discuss with a group how giving a small group Bible study can lead an individual to an effective life-changing experience with God. Role-play or illustrate this change experience.

Small group Bible study reveals truths about God, and knowing Him better is always transformative. It can also be a first step in a person's spiritual journey. Small groups are an excellent way to invite friends into the church. A person who lives outside God's plan can come to a small group, meet friendly people, and be introduced to the Creator. There are many people outside the church who claim to love God, but are put off by the hypocrisy of professed Christians. Meeting in a small group may destroy incorrect perceptions about Christians and about God. That's why it's so important to actually live the Christian life in reality.

7. Participate in a small group Bible study for at least 3 months, and attend the majority of the meetings/studies held by that group.

Most small groups meet weekly, so try to find a time that all the members of your group can be there. As a member of the group, make every effort to attend every meeting. If Bible study is a priority, you will be able to make it! If you attend every meeting, you will get far more from the study than if your attendance is spotty.

Three months is not a very long time. It is equivalent to one Sabbath School quarter - 13 meetings. The minimum attendance for this requirement is to make at least 7 of those 13 meetings.

8. Based on your experience while participating in your small group, create a poster, drawing, oral presentation, skit, video, or written assessment expressing the benefits of a small group. Describe some of the following features of small group Bible study:
Provides spiritual support for its members.
Provides an opening for sharing one’s faith / inviting others to the group.
Builds friendship and community among its members.
Encourages people to worship as Jesus directed, “in community.”

This can be done as a group project. If you choose to make a video, you could have each member of your small group offer a short testimony about what the study meant to them. You could also just ask them questions like

  • How did our study group provide an opening for sharing your faith?
  • Did you invite anyone to the study?
  • Did you make any new friends?
  • How do you like spending time with others studying the Bible?

These queations are, of course, drawn from the requirement. If you ask all members of your group these questions, you can edit their answers together to showcase the positive (in other words, edit out any "I don't know" responses). A video like this could be presented before a worship service at your church as a way to build up the small group bible study movement in your congregation.

You could also invite members to the front of the church and present their testimonies live to your congregation. Encourage the more introverted members who may not be comfortable in front of a camera (much less a congregation), to participate as well, but if they will not, encourage them to write an assessment. This could be a simple email to the instructor, or a blog post.

9. At the conclusion of your experience defined in requirement 7, share with someone who was not a member of your small group how these studies have helped you grow as a Christian. Invite them to join your small group, or if your group is becoming too large, multiply it into more small groups.

A public presentation of the effort made for requirement 8 will certainly meet this requirement. However, a personal invitation to a specific person is far more effective than a blanket invitation to the congregation.