Simple Format for Group Bible Study

This is a basic outline of how to lead a Bible study in a small group setting. If you’d like to receive copies of the teaching outlines that I create and use, you can become a Patreon of my my blog and receive those for $2 per month. 


An essential element of discipleship is that small group leaders provide follow up from the last week’s assignment. Always shoot for life change and do this in an easy going way that follows up each week. Here’s some suggested questions:

  • How has what we studied last week affected your life?
  • What did you do differently because of our discussion last week?


When leading a study that goes verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible, take some time to divide the book up into teaching sections. For me, I like to select sections 4-10 verses in length. Narrative texts such as 1 Samuel, Nehemiah, etc. allows for you to cover more ground (maybe even a whole chapter) while Paul’s letters or Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels might require less text. However much material you cover, decide ahead of time what the passage will be for that meeting and try to center all your discussion around the big idea of that passage.


After you have introduced the passage, read the entire section, now take the group verse-by-verse through the passage. Always try to focus the discussion around what each verse says in light of the big idea of the passage and the overall message of that book. (For a great resource on how to do this check out the book, Effective Bible Teaching.) If you feel comfortable, try to tie those verses into the big story of the Bible. Here’s some questions you can ask as it relates to each verse:

  • Is this idea communicated by this author somewhere else? How is it similar or different?
  • What do you think the original readers of this thought when they heard it or read it?


Each and every small group needs to be centered around application to the lives of believers. We want to move from head knowledge to personal application and this is where you make it happen. When preparing for the group come prepared with a few of your own applications, but only use them near the end after others have shared or use them to “prime the pump” if the group is struggling to find applications. Here’s some questions to help:

  • How can we apply what we just read to our personal lives?
  • What can you do differently based on your understanding of this passage?

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at