Go through the Bible study yourself. What questions do you have when you read the Bible text? If you can’t find the answers from the Bible verses or context, look up those words or verses in a Bible commentary, Bible dictionary, or the notes provided in a study Bible.
Go through the discussion questions, writing notes and your answers. As you do, think about what God is teaching you about himself or about yourself. What will he want you to remember? How can you put into practice what you have read?
You will find leader’s notes in this guide for each study. Look at them after first trying to answer each question on your own. Plan on taking about an hour to prepare the study.
Share with your I-GIG partner what you learned. You might want to go through all the questions together for practice. Discuss any concerns you may have.
Prepare to Lead
When you do the actual study with your friends, lead them through the Bible study in the same way you prepared it. Give each person an I-GIG Participant’s Guide that they can bring back each week (but have extras they can use if they forget to bring it sometime). This makes the discussion a very simple and open experience and takes pressure off of you, since everyone can read the questions.
“Initially, I did not know what to expect from the I-GIG Bible study. However, I felt extremely comfortable as we studied a passage every Friday in a small group setting. What I liked the most was that I was encouraged to ask questions and discover for myself who Jesus was. The passage on the Prodigal Son was the turning point for me – as Christ’s message and love for the lost became very evident.” –Swati
Swati (in the quote) did not say that some expert gave her answers, she said she “discovered for herself” what the text said. How do you feel about giving your friends the freedom to do this? Talk with your I-GIG partner about this.
Scripture in Your Friends' Languages
Each week it can be helpful to give each participant a printout of the Bible passages that you will be studying in their native (first) language. This is particularly helpful for those who are less fluent in English, including English as a second language (ESL) students. There are several websites that make the Scriptures available in numerous languages:
- BibleGateway.com has 60+ languages and a mobile app.
- Bible.com has 60 languages and a YouVersion app.
- InScript.org lets you display 2 versions of the Bible on screen side-by-side and has 600+ language choices.
- WorldBibles.org lets you search for Scriptures in 4000+ languages.
If any friends express interest in reading more of the Bible on their own, consider giving them a printed Bible as a gift. Unless their native language is English, a bilingual Bible (that has English side-by-side with their native language) is usually best. Here are a few places to look for Bibles:
- English study Bibles and bilingual Bibles in several languages are available at Amazon.com and ChristianBook.com.
- Discounted Chinese-English Bibles are available from ChineseResourceMinistry.org (the Chinese New Version (CNV) is easier to read than the Union version).
- EthnicHarvest.com lets you search for printed and online Bibles in 250 languages.
- Low-cost English or Spanish Bibles are available at BiblicaDirect.com.
Leadership and Teaching Styles
Your role as the I-GIG leader is to guide the Bible study discussions. In some cultures and education settings, the leader is seen as the expert and does all of the talking. That is not your role as the I-GIG leader. You do not need to be a biblical scholar or expert leader. The Bible text is the “expert” that you are studying along with all of the participants.
Encourage participants to ask questions. Reassure them that doing so doesn’t make them look dumb but it will help them to learn. This I-GIG crosses several cultures (ancient biblical, this country’s, and the home countries of each person in the group). No one can be an expert in every language and culture.
Participants may also be afraid to answer discussion questions because they don’t want to be wrong (and lose face). Let them know you value hearing their thoughts. If someone is staying quiet, they may be waiting for you to ask them. But, don’t force them to answer. After at least one other person has shared their answer to a question you can ask them, “do you have anything you want to add?” This gives them a way out as they can say “no” or just shake their head. Asking something like “what’s your answer to this question?” can be very stressful for them, as they may feel compelled to answer.
In some cultures the wishes of the oldest members are followed. If you or any participants come from such a culture, it may feel uneasy if the I-GIG leader is not the oldest person in the group. This may also be your first time leading anything. Again, reassure the group (and yourself) that the ancient 2,000-year-old Bible text (which is older than everyone in the room) is the teacher and you are just helping the discussion along (which is often called being a facilitator).
America is a very time-conscious country, so you are encouraged to end each Bible study on time. If you are not done with the study when your 60 or 90-minute time ends, let people know you’ve reached the time limit. If the group wants to continue a little longer, give participants the opportunity to leave first before continuing. You may want to apologize for going long and take the blame so participants don’t feel bad leaving when the time expires. When you prepare for the next study, work on finishing on time better.