12 Questions to Diagnose the Health (And Viability) of Your Men’s Bible Study
1 – Is it RELEVANT?
Men want (and need) Bible study that relates to the real problems they face every day. Make sure your Bible study “connects the dots” between what the Bible says and what happens at 9:00 o’clock when the man is at work, the phones are ringing, and the customers are complaining. A Bible study that lasts will help them make that connection.
2 – Is it TRUE?
Let’s be honest. There’s been a lot of sloppy teaching out there. If not, why does Barna report that only 9% of born again Christians have a biblical worldview? Whether it’s teaching works righteousness, legalism, a health and wealth gospel, or cheap grace-it’s shipwrecking the faith of many men and destroying their families.
3 – Does it CHANGE LIVES?
Biblical manhood is learned. The ultimate test for a Bible study is whether or not men change their lives in Christ-do they become disciples? Will it lead men into a closer relationship with Jesus? If you help men fill to the overflow in their personal relationship with Jesus they will want to respond. Men will WANT to change. You don’t have to beat them up.
4 – Is it APPLICATION ORIENTED?
Every good Bible study should be IMMEDIATELY applicable to a man’s everyday life. What good does it do to help a man understand Joseph’s integrity or Daniel’s unflinching faith if we don’t show a man how he can do it too?
5 – Is it GRACE-BASED?
Do your men have to “do” something to make God happy? Do men leave your Bible study with a list of things to do, or do they leave saying, “Isn’t God awesome?” Do men leave feeling they have to do something to improve their record to be acceptable to God? Does it focus on changing the HEART or merely improving men’s BEHAVIOR? Does the curriculum focus on behavior modification or heart transformation? Does the curriculum ask men to be good, moral, or disciplined by their own will?
6 – Do you include DISCUSSION QUESTIONS so the men can flesh out the ideas?
The most effective Bible studies give men an opportunity to flesh out the material. Have three to five discussion questions ready-one icebreaker to get the conversation started, one or two “knowledge”questions to flesh out the “truth,” and one or two “application” questions to anchor the truth to their world.
7 – Do you have FELLOWSHIP, PRAYER, and ACCOUNTABILITY?
Why “else” do men come consistently to a Bible study beyond learning about the Bible? In addition to good teaching, men will want to have time for fellowship, prayer, and accountability. A good one-hour 15 minutes schedule would be 15 minutes of fellowship (coffee and donuts), 30 minutes of teaching, 20 minutes for discussion questions and/or accountability, 10 minutes for prayer.
8 – Do you have a LEADER’S GUIDE?
Over time a viable Bible study picks up a host of practical ideas that make the study effective and sustainable. Different ministries offer Bible study leader guides that combine vision (purpose), strategy, and implementation ideas. If you don’t have one, send me $10 to cover shipping and handling and I’ll send you our Leader’s Guide, How To Start a Dynamic Weekly Men’s Bible Study (Ping me at email@example.com if you need our address).
9 – Do you have a DISCUSSION LEADER’S JOB DESCRIPTION so you and other leaders know what is required?
In addition to having a Leader’s Guide to set up the study, you will need a job description so you will have a guide for leader roles and responsibilities.
10 – Do you have SUGGESTIONS TO LEAD AN EFFECTIVE GROUP?
There are some practical ideas to make your group more effective. Here’s the list I share with Man in the Mirror Bible Study Table Leaders.
- During the initial weeks of forming your group spend time having each man share where he is on his spiritual pilgrimage.
- After your group is formed host a couple’s social outing.
- Spend five hours per week on your personal ministry including Friday AM time (Leader meetings, phone calls, personal visits, Friday mornings, counseling men, etc.).
- Table Leader’s motto: “Air time for every man every week.” Ask questions to draw out the shy. Suggest to those who talk too much that we want to allow time to hear from everyone (you may want to do this privately).
- Table leaders are discussion facilitators. We use a “shepherd model” not a “teaching model.” Spend no more than 1/4th of the time talking. Listen to learn.
- Credo: “Long term, low pressure.” We are many things, including a hospital for men with broken wings. Make MIM BS a “safe place” for men to come and investigate the claims of Christianity. Do not put pressure on men to conform to certain behavior. Instead, show men Christ.
- Encourage your men to be actively involved in a Bible believing church.
- Review the A Look In the Mirror equipping newsletters entitled, “How to Lead a Weekly Men’s Small Group”, “How To Build A Strong Men’s Ministry”, “The Five Defining Disciplines of Growing Men” and “How To Develop a Personal Ministry”.
11 – Do you make NEW MEN feel comfortable?
It’s well known that first time visitors are apprehensive. Don’t put new men on the spot (like standing up and telling about themselves). Instead, let visitors be fairly anonymous. But also very welcome. As you grow, have a special first time visitors table and give the men an opportunity to tell where they are on their spiritual pilgrimages.
12 – Does it POINT MEN TO CHURCH?
A men’s Bible study is a great supplement but no substitute for the body life of a vibrant church. A Bible study is like a warming hut at the bottom of a ski slope. When a man falls down we can help him get over the shock, but then he needs to go to the real hospital-the church.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,