rebelling against low expectations

How do you lead a good book study?


HOLLY WRITES: I have recently decided to try to lead a study on Do Hard Things for teens from my youth group/church. I’ve never attended a book study and am in search of advice. I suspect a “book study” is not the easiest thing to sell to teens. Has anyone lead a book study before? Are there any elements of book studies that you have attended which you found especially engaging or effective?

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  • All that I can picture as a general skeleton of a system is have each chapter (or portion of a chapter) discussed during each meeting respectively, and just have some thought provokers ready to start/direct conversation.
    (I’ve been wondering this myself recently. So i’m just as interested to see people’s answers as you are :P)

  • When you lead a book study, you have to be an open book. (Get it? Get it? :D)
    I’m serious, though. If you’re going to ask people to share their thoughts or experiences, you have to be willing to share things from your own life. But don’t make it all about you. Find a balance. Answer the questions, but not always first.
    When you ask the questions, don’t try and be clever. Ask God for wisdom in the questions you ask and the conversations you create.
    Also, pray at the beginning and end. I recommend this no matter what book you’re studying. Ask for wisdom, for open hearts, and for seeds to be planted.
    Yeah, that’s the extent of my limited knowledge!

    • Thank you Brooklyn! This looks like excellent advice, and I am taking it to heart. I am an introvert, and I realize it’s going to stretch me to lead this – needing to be an “open book” ;D. I’ve been very blessed, though, in that a friend (who happens to have an outgoing personality) has agreed to co-lead with me. I think that we will be able to balance each other nicely. Thank you especially for: “Don’t try to be clever.” I will remember that.

      • Wow, I applaud you for trying this out, even though you are an introvert. That means you’re stretching yourself, and that is commendable! Right now, myself and a couple of other teens from my youth group are doing a book study about worship, and it has been pretty enlightening. Just remember to be engaging, even though it may be difficult for you, being an introvert. Don’t be afraid to speak out and tell the other students how a certain topic has influenced you. They will respect your openness and will feel more inclined to be open to you.

        Another thing: give the other students a little bit to settle in. They may not all jump right into it right away, but I’m sure they will open up over time. And then, you may get those kids that just don’t seem to care. Try not to be offended by those who don’t contribute anything. I’m sure they are listening more than they let on.

        Hope this helps!

        • Thank you Martial Artist! I hope that this does stretch me, and I’m sure it will in some areas, but honestly, I know all the teens so it’s not going to be completely terrifying 🙂

          Thanks for your note about allowing the other students time to settle in. I’ll really need to remember that because I get frustrated very easily when people don’t seem to care or try. I pray, though, that God will awaken a passion in every heart in the study. Thanks for your comments, everyone! Keep them coming!


    • Agreed! Getting shy people comfortable enough to talk is sometimes difficult but this is definitely a good starter tip. Also, if I might add, it helps if everybody’s on the same page, even if that means that your study might be smaller than you’d planned. Like if most people are saved but there’s one or two that aren’t, than those who are may feel less free to share their thoughts! Great comment all around @brooklynmm:disqus ! 🙂

    • Oh I really have the problem with balance! I tend to open up to make people comfortable with sharing, but then I don’t shut up!

      • I struggle with this too. In my small group, I always wait for someone else to speak up, but no one does and then I end up talking anyway.

          • One of my friends and I were talking. We agreed to look at each other when we want the other to answer. She told me that she wants to answer but someone else always answers before her. Some weeks there is people like me that like to talk but other weeks I’m the only talkative one. I told her that if I look at her then I’m not going to answer. That way she can get to answer questions too.

          • Thank you for the advice! What about for people you don’t know as well? Do you have any more good suggestions? 🙂

          • No, I’m sorry. My small group is just that, small. We have six regulars so I know everyone.

  • Hmm. Good question! I’m wondering the same thing myself, but I’ll try to help. XD
    So, you’re going to want to have each person have read the portion you’ll be discussing before you discuss it. That way nobody feels stupid when everyone is tracking with what you’re saying except them (Been there, done that.) Definitely bring in Scripture to the book, if that makes sense. I’m guessing this book study will be made up of Christians, so you’ll want to encourage them with the Bible too so they all can understand it the best (if that makes any sense). Are you planning on teaching the book? Or doing “study-this-book-along-with-me”? You’ll need to figure this out, so that your study will flow the best. Does that make sense? For example, if you’re planning on teaching it, you’ll want to have a good grasp on the chapter and be prepared to do about half of the talking. Which can be hard…but it’s really good. If you’re doing like a “study-with-me” mostly discussion-based study, then you’ll want to have discussion questions prepared beforehand, and be prepared to answer them yourself. Make sure the questions are open-ended and not just yes/no questions. You wanna get everyone talking! Pray over your material as you prepare, and pray before and after the study. Get others excited about it! It’s exciting!

    Hope this helps, Holly!

    – Amanda

    • Hi Amanda! Thanks for your comment! Our plan is for this to be a “study-this-book-along-with-me” study. I have downloaded the Do Hard Things study guide and we intend to use at least some of the questions, possibly supplementing them with ones that my co-leader and I come up with ourselves. Good point about making sure they’re not yes/no questions. And yes, I will definitely be praying a lot. Thank you. Good point about bringing scripture into the study. This sounds like a good idea, but I’m not too sure how to do it because I don’t want to end up banging people over the head with verses. One of the ideas we had was for this to be a very application-focused study. To accomplish that, we’re thinking of assigning everyone a “buddy” who will pray for them and hold them accountable. That way, hopefully everyone will be able support each other and hold each other accountable for small hard things such as reading the Bible. I’m hoping that the study will just kind of naturally overflow into renewed Bible-reading for each individual. Thanks for all your advice, it was very helpful!


      • Glad I could help! 🙂

        You sound like you’ve really got it covered. I like your idea about the buddy thing. It’s like co-mentoring. Also, I think it’d be cool (in my opinion) to have everyone make their own
        100-hard-things” list (or whatever number you decide) and help each other tackle those things.

        God Bless and good luck! (Though the luck part isn’t exactly biblical, it sounded good to say. :P)

  • Thanks Holly for this great discussion question! I will likewise be starting a book study with the youth at my church soon, and am not sure how to do it! All the comments are very helpful!

  • And food never hurts 😉 As well as having a comfortable place for you group to engage.

  • just a thought…have someone who’s done bible studies or book studies to hang out with you the first few times until you get the hang of it. It’s difficult to start something new and the first time I tried promoting a simulcast for a conference I was hosting, It went awful! So it takes time and tears (unfortunately) so just try, try again. we need a book club in Ohio, people!! 🙂 (we have the BEST food, just saying’)

  • What a great idea! Did you know that they made a Do Hard Things small group curriculum? It’s just a few videos that you watch and then discuss it with provided questions, and it’s bascially about the book. it’s called “the fabulous life of a teenager” and the videos are free on youtube and if you google it you can find the free questions.

    • I have seen the videos, but I wasn’t aware that there were questions which go along with them. Thanks!

  • I have started a book study on do hard things too:) and it is through email. the people who are in the guild buy their own books. We read a chapter a week and then discuss it through email. It has been lots of fun

rebelling against low expectations

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