Faith - February 12, 2018
Best Small Group Bible Studies
One of my MOST frequently asked questions is what the best small group bible studies are or whether or not I recommend any. And after getting this question time and time again, I decided it was time I dedicate an entire resource page on my blog to answering this question. I intend to keep this updated as I learn more and discover additional studies.
When I polled Team BTD on their favorite (group) Bible studies, I got A LOT of different responses from women (and some men too!) in different stages of life and with different backgrounds too. I love that. (I also got emails) I read through every single one of them, making a list of every single study mentioned. I also got several DMs from people after mentioning I was compiling a list on my IG stories.
In addition to the ones I collected from Team BTD (and friends), I added a few I had personally heard about AND actually gone through myself, and then started the vetting process.
How Did We Pick The Books On The List?
For each of the studies included in the list, it was extremely important to me that they met the following criteria:
1. Biblically sound – Let’s not be taken in by a public figure who is confident, assertive, and appears to be biblical. Our duties as Christians include biblical discernment—which can only be done by examining what a person says and comparing it with Scripture. Proclaiming God’s word is serious business. Anyone who sets out to teach the Bible should commit to being as faithful to Scripture as possible. Otherwise, people will be seriously misled.
2. Culturally relevant and relatable – Not all Bible studies are easy to relate to. I wanted to make sure the “voice” of each author is one that is easy to understand. So you’d feel like you were learning and reading from someone who GETS you and your struggles
3. Challenging – Asking hard questions that help you grow in your personal walk/relationship with Christ is essential. Rather than keeping things on the surface, I think it’s important that a Bible study pushes you individually (and your group when you meet) to face hard truths and dig deep into how we’re living our lives. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?
4. Truth-filled – It’s important to me that a Bible study is heavy on encouraging you to read ACTUAL Scripture. After all, it should be a BIBLE study guide rather than a compilation of personal stories and opinions. So each of these on this list is chock-full of Scripture too and encourages you to read through different parts of the Bible as you go through it
5. Conducive to a group setting
The List: Best Small Group Bible Studies
Before going into the list, I want to note that among the comments, there were several Bible study authors who came up continually – authors with multiple studies. I wanted to list them out as I didn’t include ALL their studies in the list. After doing some research, it seems safe to say that any Bible study from the following list of authors would be a great option for your small group: Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, Jen Wilkin, She Reads Truth, Kay Arthur, Elisabeth Elliot.
And gosh, I’m also pretty nervous publishing this list because I don’t want to offend anyone by not including them on the list. Please know that this list only covers what I had time to decipher for myself and feel is best for the BTD community. There could very well be MORE out there that I’m just not aware of, all of which could be perfectly amazing options for your small group to go through.
I know I am not the end-all-be-all of small group studies, I just wanted to provide a resource for the BTD community. I get this question all the time, so I wanted to compile a list to send people to for reference purposes. I still have lots more to read and learn myself! Oh, and one more thing, some Bible studies automatically come with DVDs and/or download instructions, others only come in the Leader Kits (and some have no videos)—details you might want to check into as you consider each study.
Lies Women Believe By Nancy DeMoss
I’ve been telling so many people about this amazing book. A real game changer, it has brought me face to face with the lies I believed about myself (that struggle shouldn’t be part of my story), lies about others (their grass is for sure greener), lies about sin (I can handle it; it won’t get that bad), lies about success (it should go quicker; it shouldn’t be a process), and lies about consequences (it won’t impact me the way I’ve been warned it will). I can seriously keep going—the list is endless!
Lies get us in trouble because, once we start believing them, we become blinded to the fact that we’re being deceived in the first place. It creates a darkness in our lives that prevent us from seeing things for what they really are. Nancy DeMoss is genius at using God’s truth to shed light on how to overcome Satan’s crafty ways and walk in God’s grace, forgiveness, and abundant life like never before.
I should also note that, in addition to Lies Women Believe (which isn’t an actual study), there’s The Companion Guide For Lies Women Believe: Life-Changing Study for Individuals and Groups.
Lies Women Believe by Nancy DeMoss
Every single woman should have this book in an easy-to-reach spot because there are so many golden nuggets here, y’all. It’s incredible. And I am constantly reaching back for it when I’m needing a healthy dose of truth. I cannot recommend it enough!
Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story By Angie Smith
There’s no getting around it: the Bible is a difficult thing to wrap our brains around. But Angie Smith. In her seven-session book, Seamless, she does a fantastic job of unpacking the overarching themes of Scripture in all of their interwoven, oftentimes mind-numbing complexity. She weaves together the Old and New Testaments until we finally see the big picture, all the while staying gospel-centered—which is so important to me. And for the visual learner, there are maps and timelines—always a fan of those.
I especially like this book because y’all are always telling me you want to be more confident in your understanding of the people, places, and promises of the Bible. I’m not just talking about those of you new in your faith, but those who have grown up in church. Seamless will help you make connections you surprisingly never made in Sunday school. I’m telling you, it’ll remove the insecurities you have regarding the greatest story ever told. And it’s perfect to do as a group—no matter its size—which will help to truly drive home the concepts.
Seamless by Angie Smith
I love how Angie breaks down the Bible in such easy-to-consume steps and makes it all seamlessly fit together into one beautiful story. You can’t go wrong with this study! I’m doing it right now without the videos and I am loving it!
No Other Gods: The Unrivaled Pursuit of Christ By Kelly Minter
Kelly Minter’s No Other Gods touches upon something I’ve been thinking about lately: my innate desire to run after comfortable things. Could comfort be a modern-day idol for me, the kind Kelly exposes in her book? She says anything our heart prioritizes before God is taking up space that is meant for Him alone. Sure money, power, and fame are the more popular modern-day idols, but what about making an idol out of Pinterest, loved ones, and even doing ministry at church? Check, check, and check.
In addition to instructional videos, homework, and various activities, there are recipes. Recipes! I’m not used to recipes in Bible studies. So I dug a little and found that one of the recipes that Kelly shares is for Cilantro Black Beans and Rice, which sounds amazing right about now. The purpose behind it is to grow friendship within your small group. Friends + food + Jesus = Yes, please.
1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ By Jen Wilkin
After doing a little due-diligence on Jen Wilkin’s 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ, I discovered it’s the perfect study for those who struggle with “big picture” thinking. Peter, an eyewitness to the life of Jesus and a man of both faith and flaws, gets us looking past our present circumstances to our eternal home in heaven. I love that. And 1 Peter sifts through God’s thoughts on humility, submission, and true identity, which should be in Christ alone. I love that too!
As for reviews, they’re saying if you’re looking for an in-depth, dig-to-the-root-of-Scripture study, this is the one you’ve been waiting for all your life. But don’t let that overwhelm you; folks absolutely love the structure of this nine-session study with eight weeks of homework, as Jen takes you verse-by-verse.
The Quest: An Excursion Toward Intimacy with God By Beth Moore
This one looks SO GOOD. People are saying they’re captivated after only reading the first few sentences of this six-session study, complete with interactive teaching videos. Beth Moore’s The Quest views faith as something that develops over a lifetime, as we grapple with doubts and questions that naturally pop-up as we seek after things we don’t fully understand. And since there’s so much I don’t understand, I love the idea of doing a study that welcomes my endless ponderings, viewing them as essential to growth.
As I read the reviews, intimacy with God was a recurring theme. Why it’s even in the subtitle: An Excursion Toward Intimacy with God. I’m seriously giddy about the reviews: “It brought me back to a personal relationship with God,” and “I’m on my second week and God is already using this journey to bring me closer to Himself.” And beyond the homework part of it, there’s space for journaling and reflection, which I have found to be a non-negotiable for intimacy with God.
Finding I Am by Lysa TerKeurst
I have to say, a study that explores the significance of Jesus’s seven “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John sounds BEYOND amazing. Lysa TerKeurst goes deep right away with this one, as she teaches “onsite” in the Holy Lands. And lots of reviews are saying the illustrations are pretty gorgeous too, which of course is a major bonus because of that alone appeals to my visual learning self.
Finding I Am doesn’t shy away from asking the kinds of questions we oftentimes ignore or simply drown-out with noise: “What is the deep cry of your heart? The ache in your soul that keeps you up at night? The prayer you keep repeating?” And based on my research, this study will challenge us to shift our thinking from “slave mentality” to “set free mentality,” trading in our feelings of emptiness for the “fullness of knowing who Jesus is.”
Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen
Seriously, just reading the description of this study made me ooo and ahh—and it got major props from reviewers too. Jennie Allen puts into place a practical plan that helps people find clarity, purpose, and passion in their lives. The way she connects with a woman’s feelings and needs is unmatched. “She could have been writing my heart. And I am only in chapter five,” says one gal. “This book is riddled with yellow highlighter for the phrases and words that impacted my soul,” says another.
There are eight sessions, all video-based, and she uses the story of Joseph to show how his trials, giftings, and relationships fit into God’s ultimate story. And through use of the tool, “Threads,” Jennie shows you how to identify the threads of your own life and braid them together for God’s purposes. And the way she cheers you on and gets you to dream . . . she’s like the best girlfriend ever.
Armor of God By Priscilla Shirer
A good friend of mine shared an analogy that Priscilla Shirer uses in Armor of God, regarding how we must daily “put on” armor to resist the enemy’s attacks. The first of which is the belt of truth, which is the Word of God. And being one who loves analogies, I was all ears. She talked about airport security and how the TSA shines a special light on licenses and passports to make sure they’re the real deal. They do this because they don’t trust their own sight; they need something outside of themselves—a special light—to test authenticity. And that, my friends, is what the Word of God does. Wow. It is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105).
As Priscilla takes you through each piece of the armor of God, she helps you develop a personalized course of action to ward off Satan’s attacks on your emotions, your mind, your relationships, and your future. Her videos are riveting—she is THE BEST speaker—and throughout the homework, she spends a lot of time implementing practical prayer strategies in this seven-session study.
Women of The Word By Jen Wilkin
Turns out Jen Wilkin is one of the faves here, as she made my top Bible study list TWICE. First I listed her book,1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ, and now we have Women of the Word. Just to be clear, this study isn’t solely about women in the Bible—Esther, Ruth, Mary, and so on. Rather it offers a concise plan that brings women into a deeper understanding of Scripture. (Just thought I’d make that point). And based on my reviews, men are way into this study too!
Jen addresses the hiccups that commonly arise when jumping into the Word: frustration from past experiences, never able to find the time, and “emotionally-driven approaches”—which are often fueled by guilty motives. This incredibly practical book will truly change such thinking, as your heart and mind become transformed. Kathy Keller, the brilliant wife of the fantastic Pastor Timothy Keller, says you will “discover the meaning of the text in the sweep of God’s redemptive plan. Women of the Word will help anyone who reads it to find their way deeper into the Word of God without having to be seminary educated, a genius, or even an especially good student.”
Open Your Bible By She Reads Truth
If you’re like me and long for no fluff and lots of substance when it comes to choosing a Bible study, Open Your Bible will hit the spot. Whether you know your Bible from Genesis-to-maps or . . . not, this study will truly build a foundation from the ground up. And what I read in the reviews is that it will give you a greater appreciation for the Word of God and its authority in our lives, creating a thirst for truth you may not even realize you have. I like that. A lot.
Another thing I like about Open Your Bible’s seven-group-session study is that it uses real-life examples along with lots of Scripture, and it has a Concordance that explores different methods of Bible study and practical tips on how to memorize Scripture. Oh, and the videos are online—and optional. But basically, you can’t go wrong with anything from She Reads Truth.
The Emotionally Healthy Woman By Geri and Peter Scazzero
Reviews are coming in hot, with statements like, “I feel like this was written just for me.” But apparently, quite a few guys are doing this workbook too, filling the world with a lot of emotionally healthy men. (Amen.) The premise is based on Geri Scazzero’s “quitting” of her inauthentic and superficial church back in the day, which meant she had to quit denying her anger and sadness, quit trying to live another woman’s life, and quit caring what others think. And suddenly the courage needed to let go of everything that doesn’t belong to God’s kingdom began to surface. I know I need that kind of courage.
Follow Me Bible Study By David Platt
Although I cannot speak for the Bible study version of this book, I can say that the actual “Follow Me” book literally changed my life. I wrote a little bit about it in this blog post a few years about. But since it was actually really hard to get all my thoughts on paper, my blog post truly only touched the surface of all that rocked my world in that book. And I don’t mean rock my world in a good way. It was a hard book to read. But Platt doesn’t hold back on truth and he doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh realities of the Christian life. His writings are challenging and call to question unpopular topics.
From what I gather about his Follow Me Bible Study, it has six group sessions and six weeks of personal Bible study. The reviews are across the board in love with this study. And while it’s convicting, it never once is demoralizing. When Jesus says, “Follow Me,” David Platt explains that it’s not an invitation to say a prayer, rather a summons to lose our lives.
What about you?
What has been your experience with group devotionals? Are there any studies that #TEAMBTD MUST know about?! Please do share in the comments! Also, do you like this post?! We spent A LOT of time on it and I truly hope it blesses and serves as a resource from some of you! After all, everything we do is for YOU.
Thanks for reading! Xo, B
Outfit Details: Levi’s Wedgie Icon Jeans (Run TTS, I’m wearing size 25 and 5′ 4″) // Levi’s Sweatshirt (wearing size XS) // Sam Edelman Ludlow Slingback (TTS) // Gucci Red Bag // ESV Journaling Bible
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