The largest research project ever conducted on effective discipleship practices revealed that healthy churches teach people to connect to God’s Word, both on an individual basis as well as in community. But that connection doesn’t just happen. It requires an intentional plan and provision of resources. It also requires a consistency of purpose. Finally, it requires time in God’s Word.
So how can you help your members learn to connect to God’s Word?
By training them on how to use a Personal Study Guide!
Why Personal Study Guides are important to a person’s discipleship development:
· THEY REMOVE BARRIERS. When you hand someone a Personal Study Guide, you remove his/her biggest obstacle in connecting with the Bible – confidence. Essentially, you equip long term members to become active participants and you tell new visitors, “We want you back. You belong here.”
· THEY ARE A TOOL. Learning to connect to God’s Word doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intentionality and commitment. The Personal Study Guide provides guidance and commentary to help an individual understand what they’re reading in a format that is easy to follow.
· THEY INCREASE A PERSON'S EXPOSURE TO THE WORD. Exposure to God’s Word transforms a disciple’s life. Giving someone a Personal Study Guide communicates that personal Bible reading and study is essential for spiritual growth and it provides them with a practical guide to approach their person Bible study time.
· THEY CAN ADD TO DEEPER DISCUSSION. The Personal Study Guide expose an individual to questions that promote understanding and application throughout the week. Giving an individual time to digest the Scripture on their own leads to deeper discussion when the group meets weekly.
· THEY CREATE A STRONGER COMMUNITY CONNECTION. Through repeated exposure to the Word and to deeper group discussion, Personal Study Guide also helps deepen the investment an individual makes to their group and to their church. As a result, the people in your groups become some of your most engaged church members.
· THEY DEVELOP LEADERS. Every group has people who are already well equipped to lead, but may not believe it yet. These guides demystify the process of preparing and leading the group conversation, giving the group member the confidence they need to take the next step toward becoming a group leader.
Ways to encourage a member’s use of the Personal Study Guide.
· Ask a member to be prepared to share a summation of a section of the study material.
· Email/Message/Facebook class members about their response to a particular quote on a page.
· Break class into small groups to compare responses to an assigned part of the study.
· Encourage use of the application questions in small groups during the class session.
· Encourage recording prayer requests in Personal Study Guide margins.
· Refer to some of the study questions throughout your teaching presentation.
· Ask a member to be prepared to present a report on a doctrine, person, or event that is in the Personal Study Guide.
· Tweet a quote (with page number) from the study to your class members.
· Encourage members to frequent the blogs on the curriculum’s website.
· Remind the class members of their responsibility in the discipling process.
· Have class members create accountability partners who will check on each other’s personal preparation for the upcoming Bible study through phone calls, social media, and email.