How I Prepare to Lead Bible Study

Bible study

Tried and true Bible study lesson books

This is how I prepare to lead Bible study.

I’ve already written about the reason why we study the Bible after that initial read, here.

I’ve been teaching Bible study pretty much since I graduated from college back in the Dark Ages.

Because of our military lifestyle, I’ve led Bible studies in all four corners of the United States and in Hawai’i, not to mention up and down California.

I’ve taught in several different church denominations and in just my neighborhood.

I’ve met so many people and had so many illuminating and fascinating conversations as a result, that I’ve learned–I need to prepare before I lead a Bible Study.

Here’s how I do it.

Pray first

I ask to God to illuminate my heart and mind to the truth set before me in the text.

I ask Him to show me the things that are important to me and the other people in my study, letting the Holy Spirit direct my focus.

I thank Him for the opportunity and set to work.


Examine the text

While we can just read through a Bible passage in our devotional times or out of curiosity, the true depth, meaning and insight comes from examining the text.

I took a Kay Arthur Precepts class many years ago and really liked the preparation she uses.


Using the Precepts method

I print out a double-spaced copy of the passage I’m teaching and using colored pencils, highlight specific words.

The point is to see what words are used frequently in the passage and thus point towards the theme.

It helps me “see” truth I may not have recognized on a first read through.

I also write notes in the margin, observations I’ve made, draw lines and basically scribble all over it.

(Just like I do when editing a rough draft of my own work!)

Work through the questions in my Bible study book.

While I have taught straight out of the Bible, I’ve successfully used Bible study material for years.

I’ve only had a year of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), and one intense Precepts class, but I went all the way through the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod‘s Lifelight study (which I describe as “Lutheran BSF.”)

For years, however, I’ve been using a series of studies from InterVarsity Press called Lifeguide.

The studies are simple–they take a specific passage and ask 10 or so questions.

The focus is on discussion, and for that reason the Lifeguide studies usually incorporate a sliver, or select passages from a long book.

That works well for busy people who have applied Christian teachings to their lives for a long time.

While the study time takes roughly an hour for them to do and for us to discuss, my preparation is much longer.

Examine the answers–in the back or at the bottom of the Bible

Lifeguide studies have answers in the back of the book for select questions.

Once I’ve answered the questions myself, I go to the back and see what their “take” is on the lesson.

Bible study

Completed study, ready to lead!

It’s frequently illuminating and I return to clarify . . .

I also examine the comments and references in the two Bibles I use: a Life Application New King James Version and a Lutheran Study Bible.

The “bottom of the Bible,” (A friend refers to it as “Bob”) often have great insight that I incorporate into my notes.

(I do the lesson myself in one color pen and add notes in another color pen to differentiate my insight from that of scholars).

Be surprised by the Holy Spirit

While those steps prepare me for the study, I try to do the work early in the week, then review my notes the night before.

Often during the interim, the Holy Spirit steps in and surprises me.

I’ll “happen” to read a passage in my regular devotions that casts another angle on the study.

The Sunday sermon will highlight something I missed, whether it covers the same passage or not.

A friend will in general conversation give me an insight.

Something will happen in my own life that enables me to share either a failure or a success–with whatever a particular passage discusses.

It’s fun and exciting.

When it’s not convicting!


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