5 Tips for Better Group Conversations

Encouraging deep and meaningful Bible study discussions

By BSF Staff

In a small group Bible study, the goal is always to create a healthy, secure space where open and honest conversations flow and everyone feels equally free to contribute. Some groups find their groove from the word “go,” while others move at a slower pace. 

Whether it feels natural or takes intentional time, studying the Bible in a group is helpful for proper Scripture interpretation and long-term spiritual growth. For “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).  

The following five tips will help you encourage deep, free-flowing conversation in your groups:

1. Remove distractions

Focusing after a long day of work, parenting, or other life circumstances can be difficult. If we want to put worries aside to be present in our groups, we have to be intentional. What specific behaviors or habits could you use to shift your focus before sitting down with your group?

One method is to get out a piece of paper and write down everything on your mind. Write down anxieties, distractions, expectations of the evening, plans for tomorrow, and anything else consuming your thoughts. Getting our mind-clutter out and onto the page frees us to focus on one another.

Remember Paul’s advice in Philippians to “not be anxious about anything” but to turn to prayer. As a result, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).  

If we want to put worries aside to be present in our groups, we have to be intentional.

2. Be vulnerable

Commit to being open with your group. If you choose to be vulnerable, it will lead others to do the same! Your group and discussion will be better for it. 

While it can be scary to let yourself show weakness or not have all the answers, you are called to true community. That means showing the real you and your real life. Share your true prayer requests and answers to questions, not just what you think is acceptable or will make others think well of you. 

James tells us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).  

If you choose to be vulnerable, it will leads others to do the same!

3. Build community

The first step to building community in your group is showing up! Make sure that your group is a priority in your life. As much as you are able, show up to every group meeting.  

However, showing intentional care and interest in other group members should extend beyond your weekly meeting. Could you follow up with a member on a prayer request they shared during your discussion? Is there a need you could meet for them? Would you extend an invitation to get to know someone personally outside of your group?  

Hebrews reminds us, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25).  

Showing intentional care and interest in other group members should extend beyond your weekly meeting. 

4. Stay on topic

During your group discussion, it is best to stay focused on the passage and follow the guidance of your group leader. 

While it’s always great to share your perspective and life with the group, it may be best to hold back from giving your review of a recent movie, bringing up a divisive political topic, or telling a long story about a recent vacation during your discussion time. 

Before you speak, think, “Is this relevant to the group discussion? Am I talking to draw attention to myself or to share for the good of the group?”  

5. Grow together

Just as there is always room to grow in God’s Word, there is room for everyone to grow in group Bible study. If you commit as a group to growth, you will all be able to look back and see how far you’ve come by the end of your time together.  

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    • One simple trick I used in my time as a leader was to wear my watch on the inside of my wrist, so I could easily monitor time (to move things along, etc) discreetly.

  2. Very helpful tips for encouraging better group interaction and discussions, and building intergroup relationships.

    Thank you

  3. This information is really good and thought provoking! I will encourage the ladies in my small group to read it.

  4. What a joy to begin the Fall of 2023 with the study of John. Getting to meet new friends and learn together as we learn to grow more like Jesus

  5. It’s really helpful to build a group with love.

    • I used to encourage my ladies to review their Lessons on Sunday nights and choose one or two questions on each page to share with the Group on Monday night. God was so good to me. I never had a night where all the ladies chose the same two questions, and I was left with a room full of silence

  6. Really helpful suggestions. Thanks. I’m looking forward to getting started this week. So much to learn about God’s Word and our group members.

  7. I long to join the new group to learn more about the word of God.

  8. I like the idea of writing down likely distractions before going into session. I will do that and rely on God to be focused and to show up for every session.
    Looking forward to a great year and heeding to the call of loving my group members.

  9. I am 82 years old and I can honestly say BSF has had the greatest impact on my spiritual journey. In fact I do not believe I knew the Lord in a personal relationship before getting into the Word of God through BSF. Way back in the late 80s. I love the precious ladies I have met and every leader is unique in their walk with the Lord and their leadership style. I’ve taken John before and can’t wait to see what God has for me this year in BSF. Thank you Lord for the sweet friend many years ago that invited me to this life changing Bible Study. She is with you now. Praise God

  10. I am going to enjoy my bsf discussion and connecting with people who want to know God and understand His words! Praying for others and sharing the love of God is always powerful!

  11. Thank you, Lord, for leading me back to BSF leadership as a Group Leader. BSF has had an impactful role in my life. It is my prayer to be a light in the life of the men of my group. Thank you for these helpful tips for better group conversations. I ask that the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit remove all barriers and distractions and as a result the peace of God will through His son will transcend every stronghold that binds us this year.

  12. Excellent suggestions. Thank you.

  13. I am expecting to grow spiritually along with other members of my group.
    To implement these 5 tips, so as to learn from others during the division class class discussion

  14. I’ve looked forward to this new year in JOHN with my new BSF group. The summer occupied me and pulled me away more than the last 9 years in BSF as I see MANY MANY changes on Earth. BSF helps me to stay focused on learning the Bible which keeps me calm. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me through God’s Plan in the name of Jesus.

  15. This year I have a different age group that I am leading, I feel a tad bit challanged by the change, but I am aiming to rely on God’s power and strength to guide me through it.

  16. I love leading an international group online. We have grown to love one another and pray for one another. Women seem to be more open to authenticity and vulnerability online, as they share their dreams, as well as their struggles. My group is from all over the world. We have grown in our desire to seek to know our God more intimately. I have learned much from their insights in Scripture. It is such a great privilege to guide them in the wonderful materials, and gifted notes and lectures that BSF gives us, as we seek more knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord. Thank you BSF.

  17. Gladys
    I look forward to spending my time with this BSF group. I look to learning new way of studying the Bible.
    I hope to begin a new season.

  18. This is such a powerful guidance as we move on learning the Word of God together with members of our group.It will help me to appreciate others regardless of our different personalities.

  19. Thank you good guidance. I love my small group sessions and I am looking forward to having my iron sharpened again this year. May God bless all of you that make this possible, and all of us that participate! Thank you Jesus for all you are going to do inside our hearts this year! Amen


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