Little Rock Scripture Study
Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
July 2020

LR Connections July

Staying Flexible in Group Bible Study:
Ten Practical Tips

by Phyllis Baltz

An experienced Bible study facilitator offers ten practical tips for staying flexible and doing what works best for your group.

I am quite comfortable in an environment with few surprises. But (fortunately) at some point God said to me: “Phyllis, you may be missing out. It’s okay to be a bit more flexible!” 

And it is. In fact, it is this flexibility that allows my Bible study group to not only be informed by our study of the Bible, but to be transformed by it. My group began meeting in 2016. What started out as weekly evening gatherings in members’ homes has developed into something much different as we have adapted to the schedules and needs of our group. We deeply desire to study, learn, and be transformed by God’s Word. Our gatherings are also a time to support one another through prayer and friendship.

Because we are a diverse group in the way we come to Bible study, here are some tips that have helped sustain us:

  • Consider meeting every other week. This gives everyone time to savor the lesson and may help busy people find the time to be prepared.

  • Be flexible with time and place. Consider meeting at a mealtime (e.g., lunch hour, if people are working or retired). Meetings don’t have to be at your parish—they can be in someone’s home, in a quiet corner of a restaurant—wherever you can find a convenient, comfortable spot to gather.

  • Split the lesson into two sessions when needed. Review the study material in advance and decide if it is more than your group would like to read and prepare for one session. You can tell your group in advance how far to read, and which questions to answer for the upcoming session.

  • Adapt the questions as needed. Many participants struggle with the discussion questions that encourage personal reflection and faith-sharing. Begin by asking what the text says (information; easier to answer) and then move into the reflection/application question (transformation; more difficult to answer).

  • Write out prayer intentions before meeting. Ask your group to write out their prayer intentions for the closing prayer in advance. This especially helps those who are quiet to be ready and willing to share.

  • Use the Wrap-Up Lectures in the way that works best for your group. Since many of the lectures are now available online (New Editions), we view these lectures on our own time rather than during our group time. Some of our participants use this process: 1) study the materials, 2) answer the questions, and 3) review by watching the lecture before our gathering.

  • Involve as many facilitators as possible. Taking turns facilitating gets more people involved. In my group, about half of us are willing to facilitate. Each facilitator brings a different gift to the table.

  • Facilitating can be a shared experience. For those who don’t want to facilitate an entire lesson, they can share the experience with a more experienced facilitator. They may just facilitate a few questions during any given week, allowing the “regular” facilitator to fill in as needed and lead prayer.

  • Mix it up! We do a New Editions Bible study and then an Alive in the Word (AITW) topic. AITW works well when your group has limited time (each AITW book is 3 sessions). Though meeting in the summer can be difficult, we often manage to do one AITW in the summer.

  • Accept that attendance will vary. We avoid meeting at especially busy times (such as Thanksgiving through New Year’s). Even then, not every participant can come to every session. We are a group of thirteen, and we average about ten at each session. We’re grateful for whoever can come!

Every group is different. Embrace flexibility! Do what works best for your group, and be ready and willing to make changes as you go along. And remember, you can share your ideas and experiences with Little Rock Scripture Study so that others may benefit. We’re all learning together!


Phyllis Baltz

Phyllis Baltz has a Master of Religious Education degree from Loyola University, New Orleans. She is an experienced Bible study facilitator and an avid reader. Phyllis and her husband Rusty live in Hot Springs, Arkansas and are members of St. Mary of the Springs Catholic Church.




Coming next month: Tips for Online Bible Study!

Tips for online Bible studyMany of you have visited our Special Resources page for tips and "how-to" instructions for hosting a Bible study on Zoom or Skype. In next month's Little Rock Connections, Stephen Picard of the Los Angeles Bible Institute will share some of his own tips for online Bible study. Steve is an experienced Bible study facilitator and will have some useful ideas to share with us as we all consider our options for fall Bible studies.


Opportunity for LRSS facilitators and all who want to dig into Scripture

Bible studyThe University of Dallas Neuhoff School of Ministry's Catholic Biblical School offers a fully online program studying the entire Bible from a Catholic perspective. This is a wonderful program for facilitators who would like to have a more extensive background in Scripture and for longtime students of the Bible who are ready for a next step.

Classes begin in late August (see schedule here). For more information, visit the UD CBS website, read this curriculum overview, or contact Lucy Gutierrez-Olvera at 972-721-4118 or ministry@udallas.edu.


Have you heard the buzz about our new lectionary-based Bible study?


The first volume in our Ponder: Contemplative Bible Study series will be available in August (for Year B, starting Advent 2020). Consider using this series as a supplement to other Bible studies, for personal prayer, or for something new and different for your Bible study group to try. For sample pages and more, visit LittleRockScripture.org/Ponder. LRSS author and New Testament scholar Fr. Ronald Witherup writes that Ponder is "guaranteed to foster good reflection in group or individual settings."

The Kingdom of God (Alive in in the Word) wins CPA Award!

The Kingdom of GodCongratulations to Fr. Frank Matera! His recent Alive in the Word title The Kingdom of God: The Essential Message of Jesus has been awarded an Honorable Mention from the Catholic Press Association. Fr. Matera's book is a deep-dive into Jesus' teachings about the kingdom of God and the challenges and comforts it presents to us. Great for small groups, online Bible study, or individual reflection!




Catalog coming soon!

LRSS Catalog 2020 Keep your eye out for our 2020-2021 LRSS Catalog, coming your way in mid-August. We can't wait to share all that is available and all that is coming soon. The catalog will be sent by mail (sign up here if you are not already on our mailing list) and by email (sign up here if you do not already receive our emails).

Little Rock Scripture Study

Liturgical Press 2950 St. John's Road Collegeville, Minnesota 56321
Phone: 800-858-5434
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