The first person we met 23 years ago in the huge worship center of our new church invited us to his adult fellowship group on Sunday mornings, then invited us to his regional Bible study on Friday nights. We have attended that Bible study all these years, and over 16 years ago, we offered to host the group in our home. We feel blessed to serve the body of Christ in this way.
We have replaced the worn and stained carpets in the living room twice. Things get broken. I have mopped the floors at midnight. Almost everybody has fallen asleep here, especially the little kids and pregnant moms. We average about ten families for a total of forty people each week, and while remodeling, we survived with one bathroom. Our largest event exceeded 120 people for lunch on our property, which is only a typical housing tract in Southern California. We still feel blessed to serve the body of Christ in this way.
How have we done it? Here are my 8 Tips for Hosting a Bible Study:
- The most important thing is consistent pastoral leadership and biblical teaching. Our Bible study has had the same “shepherd” for over 16 years, who was trained in expository preaching in seminary, and who is aided in teaching by two other diligent men of sound doctrine. That’s why our friends keep coming week after week for years, and new families join us, too.
- It requires a family effort. When my husband and I agreed to take on this challenge, we had to figure out the logistics of setting up chairs, providing enough lighting, and reducing clutter. When our daughters were little, I trained them to get the house “Bible-study-ready,” which meant they cleared their stuff from the house, cleaned their rooms (and tucked away certain breakables), scrubbed a bathroom, and helped set up chairs and baskets for our guests. (Every family has a basket by the door for shoes, sweaters, plasticware, and crafts to be taken home at the end of the night.)
- Tell guests your house rules. Our Bible study is comprised of people of different ages, cultures, and expectations. With such a wide variety, it’s important to tell them our preferences for our home. For example, I always wear tennis shoes, but most people like to take off their shoes, so either way is fine. We encourage really sick children and parents to stay home, but we don’t mind little colds. During snack time, the children sit on my laminate kitchen floor to eat, so it’s easy to clean up any spills. I prefer that children don’t stand on my furniture or wrestle in my home, which might be different than what they’re allowed to do in their own home; I tell children what I want and ask parents to help their children comply.
- Love the people more than your stuff. Things get broken and stuff spills. We have consistently prayed to respond with love and kindness whenever that happens. Because we remain calm (rather than get angry), we have developed trust so that even little children will “confess” to spilling or breaking something that they weren’t supposed to be touching. This relationship has helped us avoid disappointed surprises the next morning.
- Be prepared, not perfect. If I waited to share my home until everything was perfect then I would never host Bible study. I need to prepare my home with basic tidying and cleaning, by stocking supplies like paper plates and toilet paper, and being ready to share every room if needed. But this is a home lived in by a group of creative, busy people, so everything is not picture-perfect. My friends don’t seem to mind; they are just happy to be together.
- The mothers take turns teaching a Bible class for the children. Families come together to sing, read the Bible aloud, listen to praises and prayer requests, and pray to God. Then while the shepherd teaches, children 6th grade and younger go to the back room for their own Bible lesson. This reduces distractions for the adults, gives parents the opportunity to help older children take notes on the sermon, and provides a children’s Bible lesson at an age-appropriate level.
- Let others serve in their own way. Kids like to wave and greet guests as they arrive. Most of the women have rearranged my refrigerator to store snacks and washed my dishes at the end of the night. Many men have carried out the garbage or stacked and put away the chairs. Everyone takes turns bringing food to share. We all serve one another.
- Clean up at the end of the night. If I don’t mop, I surely get ants invading my kitchen. Put things away and get your house back to normal. What a treat to sleep in the next morning and wake up to a clean house!
I write this to encourage you to serve the Lord with whatever He has given you. If you have enough space, offer to host a Bible study group; remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy or perfect, but it will take some preparation. If you can’t open your home, now that you are aware of some of the factors to hosting, be sure to find ways to serve the hosts and other members of your Bible study whenever you gather together.
This advice about opening your home might be helpful if you have been thinking about hosting a book club discussion group for “Elephant in the Room.” Feel free to download your copy of the Book Club Discussion Questions from THIS page. Buy additional copies of my book from Dove Christian Publishers or on Amazon.
Please comment below to share your tips and suggestions for hosting or serving in your home Bible study.