Bible Engagement: How to Prepare a Bible Study

Contributed by: Phil Trotter

The heart of a good study is the questions and personal study of the passage by the leader.


Well Beforehand:

Be well familiar with the passage; study it yourself, maybe using these notes.

Come up with a ‘Big Idea’ – a 1-sentence summary of what you think the passage is saying.

Form 10-12 questions to take members through the Bible Study.


On The Day:

Warm Up

Come up with a question that links peoples’ experiences or interests with the passage.

A good question will pick up on something members like or are interested in, or a relevant, current event. This will help to engage group members, pique their interest and get their head in the right space for what’s coming up.

e.g. When looking at Jesus as a role model we started by asking “In your career or favourite pastime, who would be your best ever role model?”

Looking at the Passage

Read it through at least twice. Maybe the first time listen to it read out loud, then a second time, have members read it silently.

People should be well familiar with the passage before looking closer.


1. What Does The Passage Say?

Come up with two or three questions that look at the detail of the passage.


  • Who are the people involved?
  • What is happening?
  • How are people/places described?
  • How are people being affected?
  • What is said by whom?
  • How do people respond in the passage?

At this point, you are really just breaking down what is on the surface of the passage, to help people get the full picture and become familiar with the detail.


2. What Does The Passage Mean?

Check for words or phrases that might need explaining e.g. “Son of David”.

Look at what happens before and after your passage. Note any key themes present (e.g. Jesus may have just spoken about servanthood) or action that takes place (e.g. Jesus may be en route to the Cross in Jerusalem).

Ask why what happened in the passage happened; what prompted it? Was a question asked? Did someone do something or say something?

Why did people respond as they did in the passage?

What is the pivot point, punch line or climax of the passage?


3. Summary

Pause for a moment to invite the group members, given what has been discovered from the passage, to summarise it in their own words.

Have your own summary prepared to share.


Pick one or two questions that help group members see themselves and their context being addressed by the passage:


  • Which character are we most like? Which character are we supposed to emulate (or not emulate)?
  • If the writer of this passage were speaking to us directly, what issue/situation in our lives would be the most likely prompt for this being said?
  • What would be a common reaction or response to the issue/situation?
  • How do we normally respond to that issue/situation?
  • How does this passage change our response?
  • Who, or what, are the modern day equivalents of this passage?
  • What has the passage highlighted about God? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? the Church? A true Disciple? Christian Faith? Is this congruent with our current understanding or practice?


The last question should push for an active response from group members:


  • If I were to take this passage on board – what would change?
  • How does this passage change my thinking or understanding?
  • What situation in my life does this passage give clear direction to?
  • Is this a passage that I can ‘follow Jesus’ on, or is that too difficult right now?
  • What will I do differently?

Close with Prayer for your group members

For an example of a study using this structure, see Jesus Stopped: A Bible Study on Mark 10:46-52

You can download a PDF version of this training resource here. Feel free to print and hand out these notes to your youth leaders.