3 Tips to Manage Group Bible Study Dynamics

How to intentionally pay attention, listen, and set the tone.

WordGo · 3 min read

Take a moment to imagine a healthy small group Bible study... People share their thoughts and feel heard in response. Discussion progresses steadily, and no one person demands attention or dominates the airspace. Conversation, laughter, and prayers fill the room as the group grows in faith and friendship…

Healthy and harmonious group dynamics are possible, but they don't happen accidentally or overnight! Think about it: WordGo Groups bring together people from various backgrounds, personalities, stages of spiritual maturity, and levels of emotional health. When groups first begin to meet, the conversation rarely flows freely. Therefore, whoever is guiding the discussion needs skills to manage and steer it effectively.

So, as a WordGo Group Guide, what can you do? You can intentionally pay attention to group dynamics!

Consider the following three tips to improve the study experience for everyone:

1. Set Clear Guidelines

A helpful first step for any small group is to create a Group Agreement. Doing so doesn't need to be as serious as it sounds! Simply talk through and decide to agree upon some core values and behaviors. Making foundational decisions together goes a long way toward building a healthy culture and environment for discussion.

Some examples might include:

  • "We aim to know and serve one another."
  • "We will keep Scripture central."
  • "We work to listen more than we talk."
WordGo - Journal 33 Illustrations - Detail 1

Ask your Group Members to share what they think creates an environment where people can speak freely and be heard. Listen carefully, and write their thoughts down. Encourage your Group Members to commit to the values and behaviors you've discussed. Underline the importance of respecting one another's views, personalities, and preferences.

Setting clear guidelines at the start allows you to anticipate any potential issues. But guidelines also give you a standard to call everyone back to – especially if things go off course later on.

2. Address any Distractions
WordGo - Journal 33 Illustrations - Detail 2

As you gather for Bible study, there may be moments when one or two people dominate or derail the discussion in a way that detracts from the rest of the group. Depending on a person's past group experience, personality type, or communication style, they may not be aware when their interactions are inappropriate for a group dynamic. When this happens, you can respond with both empathy and action.

For example: If one or two people are talking too much, try using the questions to keep the discussion on track and ask quieter Group Members to share first.

Another example: If someone continually moves the focus of discussion away from the Bible passage to personal issues or unrelated topics, thank them for sharing, then check in with them privately afterward.

For those who derail group dynamics, sometimes all that's needed is someone offering to listen. Prayerfully and patiently hearing out what's going on in their life makes way for peace and understanding. And as you create space outside group discussion, you model when is (and is not) a good time for this type of conversation.

3. Enhance the Culture

Discussion time is just one of many opportunities for the group to grow together in God's Word. Connecting before and after the study time will help Group Members get to know each other better, gain one another's trust, and deepen relationships and conversation.

Consider a few ways to enhance the atmosphere of your Group Gathering:

  • Provide food, drink, and music to help people relax.
  • Spark conversation by introducing members who don't know each other.
  • Use ice breakers or "get to know you" activities to kickstart interactions.
  • Create a WhatsApp group for members to share weekly updates or prayer requests.
WordGo - Journal 33 Illustrations - Detail 3

Most of all, do not lose heart! Remember: Healthy and harmonious group dynamics are possible. As you trust God and ask for His peace, patience, and kindness, you can manage even the most challenging group dynamics. Group Guides who model how to pay attention, listen, and set the tone will improve the study experience for everyone.

Remember to:

...set clear guidelines

...address any distractions

...and enhance the culture.

Looking for more? Our in-app “How to be a Guide” audio training and WordGo journal articles walk Group Guides through the essentials for impactful group Bible study.

Discover how to: get your group off to a great start; create the atmosphere for discussion; prepare for discussion times, manage group dynamics; and support connected conversation.