If you’re intimidated by the idea of leading a Bible study or discipleship group, then we have good news! In this article, we will share 7 biblical strategies that will help you build confidence as you lead a discussion about God’s Word.
We’ve seen these strategies work for countless leaders around the world, and we believe that God calls all of his followers to be disciples and disciple makers. Let’s jump into it:
1) Preparation strengthens confidence
Anytime you present or lead a discussion, preparation is key to leading with confidence.
Imagine you are asked to speak in front of 500 people—you might be nervous but if you have a couple weeks you also know you have time to prepare and practice your presentation. Now, imagine you get asked to speak in front of 500 people, and you need to do it in five minutes. You’d probably not feel very confident at all!
With leading Bible studies, the principle is the same. You may not be in front of 500 people, but depending on your small group size, you will be leading four to six people in a discussion about the Bible. If you spend the week preparing, you will feel much more confident than if you hastily skim through the content five minutes before the group starts.
Here are a few key ways you can prepare:
- Read the material and answer questions in advance
- Anticipate questions your group members may have and research answers
- Listen to podcasts or sermons that are relevant to the topic of study
- Come up with questions of your own
- Write a short agenda for the group meeting to help keep things on track
You may not need to do all of those things, but the more you prepare the more confidence you will feel when you lead your Bible study or discipleship group. To simplify preparation and to help ensure small groups help transform lives, we recommend following the TEAMS approach to Bible discussions.
2) Study/Meditate on the Word
Consistently studying and meditating on the Word of God will make you a more confident person, and a more confident Bible study leader.
In Joshua 1:8-9 (ESV), God speaks to Joshua and explains this concept:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The key to Joshua’s success and maintaining his strength and courage (a.k.a. maintaining confidence) was meditating on the Word of God. Studying it helped Joshua obey God and live a prosperous life, and it also reminded him that the Lord was with him wherever he went.
And this, ultimately, is the greatest source of confidence of all. God is with us, and when we trust in Him we can have confidence in His work.
Studying the Bible is not the only way to remember that God is with us and key to our confidence. Through prayer, we can approach Him and ask Him for help. This intentional act is important—it reminds us that our success is not up to us, and also helps us lead our group with a posture of dependance.
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) reminds us that, because of Christ’s work, we can approach God with confidence and that He will give us the grace and mercy we need. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
And so, pray often and pray that God will help you lead your group, that He will illuminate the Scriptures and make the Word come alive to those who study it.
4) Be Discipled by a Good Leader
If you want to grow confidence in something, then spend time learning from people who are already good at that thing.
Discipleship is all about equipping others to lead, and so when you spend time with a good discipleship group leader, you will learn to become a better leader yourself. Here at Life on Life, we have a very specific definition of discipleship: “Laboring in the lives of a few with the intention of imparting one’s life, the gospel and God’s Word in such a way as to see them become mature and equipped followers of Christ, committed to doing the same in the lives of others.”
The goal isn’t to just help others learn the Bible, but to equip others to make disciples themselves! Your leader’s goal, then, should be to equip you to become a better leader. This follows the model of Christ, who discipled a few, who then went on to become disciple makers themselves.
Take advantage and spend more time with your leaders!
5) Get a Coach
The best athletes in the world, players at the top of their game and with tons of confidence, still work with coaches. Coaches help you get better, no matter which level you currently operate.
Coaches help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, they ask good questions to get you thinking, and they push you to get better. This is one of the main reasons we include coaching as an essential part of our discipleship training process. Simply directing and delegating is not enough, so we equip and support you through weekly, then monthly coaching calls.
6) Repetition builds confidence
Sometimes, if you really want to be confident in something, you just have to do it. And do it again, and again and again. There is a reason people who frequently speak in public can seem so calm and collected. There is a reason a professional hitter can walk up to the plate and feel confident in the 9th inning.
The reason? Repetition builds confidence—and this is certainly true with leading Bible studies and discipleship groups. I’ve led groups for many years, so it feels normal and not scary. I also know that when I ask someone to lead a group for the first time, they often look at me like a deer in the headlights.
It’s normal to be nervous when trying something new, and it’s normal to spend extra time in preparation or in prayer before you lead your first group. But you just have to start—and each time you lead a group it will be easier.
7) Rely on God’s Spirit to do the Work
At the end of the day, you can relax a little because God is the one who illuminates Scripture and moves in people’s hearts. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare or practice, but it does mean you should depend on him.
Is leading discussions a weakness for you? 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) has good news: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Are you struggling with fear? Hebrews 13:6 (ESV) reminds us that “we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” On a similar note, 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) says “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
If you’re nervous to lead a Bible study or discipleship group, then that is normal! The good news is, those nerves should drive us to depend on God’s power and His Spirit. When we do that, he makes us strong and He uses our weakness to help others.
There are many different ways to build confidence as a discipleship or Bible study leader. Preparation, studying the Word, prayer, being discipled, getting a coach, repetition, and relying on God’s Spirit and strength are all helpful ways you can grow as a leader.
The work you do as a discipler has eternal value and matters, and we need confident bible study leaders. Keep practicing and praying, keep seeking out God’s strength, and keep growing as a leader. And of course, if we can help you launch a discipleship movement in your church, don’t hesitate to reach out so we can discuss our training and coaching options.