A woman recently asked me how to start a women’s study in her parish. After that a young college girl inquired about starting a bible study in her sorority. That was followed by a mother wanting to begin one, in her home, with her friends.
This got me thinking...How many people would like to start a study but feel it might be more than they could handle? Since I believe starting a study is both painless and yet tremendously rewarding, I thought I would share my various responses in one coherent article...
If you already have a group of interested women, your best bet is to look at your own schedule and offer a couple of options for getting together. I would suggest an hour and a half to two hours, once a week. So, for example if Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. work best for you, send out emails, or make phone calls, to everyone. Let them know these options and ask for feedback. You will want to ultimately go with the most popular choice because of the options you gave, both, or all, were good for you, the moderator.
If you do not have a group of interested women (or participants if it is co-ed), ask your church paper to put in a small article stating that you are starting a women’s study and also send out inquiry emails to your own friends and family. Ask them to send the email on, as well, to their friends and family. Let me add that men greatly benefit from participating in a “woman’s” study because it gives them a real sense of a woman’s worth and helps them instill that in their daughters or see it in their wives, sisters, etc.
Many men have found great value in this type of study and can really add to your group with their valuable perspectives. Anyhow, if you are advertising in your church paper or through email, give a “reply by” date so that everyone who is interested knows that you are truly doing this!
Once you have your group, you will give a start date that gives everyone enough time to purchase the book you will be using.
Depending on the size of the room in your home that you will use your group might be as small as three or as large as a dozen, or more. Whatever you are comfortable hosting is the key. Once your study begins there are a few guidelines that help to make it successful. If you have a space at your parish that is better for gathering, make some phone calls to see what it takes to line it up for the length of your study—maybe 12 weeks for 2 hours each week etc.
For your first meeting you might provide a light snack and beverages and have a sign up sheet for the following three of four get-togethers. If you try to sign up too far into the future, people tend to forget. And it is always good to recognize that a reminder email is helpful as we all get caught up in our schedules and sometimes forget these things that nourish our souls! Something that goes out to everyone the day before the meeting and is a simple message like; Blessings…I just wanted to remind everyone of tomorrow’s study and that we are looking forward to Sue’s snacks…
Meetings begin with a prayer (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be or anything that the leader might have found and made copies of, like prayers from our Saints etc.) and prayer requests as we count on Christ’s words that where two or more are gathered, so there is He.
Then the leader asks everyone to open their resource books to a particular page. The leader may give a little background before reading begins or just delve right in. The leader may read or may ask others to take turns reading. The leader stops at Scripture and everyone finds the verses, someone reads, the leader guides discussions about what these mean to individuals etc. When I lead a study, I have each participant, before we even began, find a verse that is in our day’s reading and mark it with a sticky note so that when we got to it, that person is ready to read it.
A study should be quite flexible and very dynamic. The leader can ask questions about anything being read and certainly the participants can ask questions of one another. It is always fascinating the way in which the Holy Spirit moves in these gatherings.
What is also important is for the leader to keep the participants on track and know when to help everyone refocus, if necessary. It isn’t uncommon for some participants to sort of take over the floor, so to speak, and the leader has to lovingly acknowledge that person’s contribution and help the group move on. Part of bible study is creating an environment that everyone feels great love and support in their individual journeys and those needs will definitely come out as you read through the resource book!
Every session, after the first, begins with a prayer and then maybe a brief recap of the last week’s activity or “homework” if there was any. For instance, a particular topic like “letting go” may have been covered and the participants are asked to live this message with more awareness throughout the week making a recap an excellent time to discover how living what we learn is both important and often a challenge!
The leader can have just a couple of questions ready to explore before the new material is covered: “What did you find challenging about practicing “letting go?” or “What did you discover about yourself when you need to let go of something?” These questions will lead to great discussions and then the leader will draw the participants into the day’s chapter and begin reading etc.
All in all, studies make for great times! They immerse you in the Word of God and the realities of His love for you; being a leader of a study will allow you to help others on their journeys with Christ.
You may want to begin discerning if you are being called to offer some sort of study this fall and to use part of your summer to begin preparing. Most women love studies during the early autumn months; they find it a particularly powerful time to hunker down and get immersed in the things of God. There is something quite mystical about this time of year when summer turns to fall and women seem especially drawn to things that settle their spirit and feed their soul.
I encourage you to answer God’s call to moderate your own women’s study or to sign up for one that will develop your relationship with Jesus in a way that will bring you joy and fulfillment.
Cheryl Dickow is the author of Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman's Guide to Fulfillment Today by Connecting with Her Past and has conducted many women's studies--both online and in parish programs. Her website is www.BezalelBooks.com; she can be reached at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com with questions about starting a woman's study.
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|Published by: AciCYCIshtAanEO|
|Date: 2011-08-26 16:50:06|
|Good job making it aapper easy.
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