Thursday, September 2, 2010

when Titus 2 gets down and dirty: how to lead a mums' Bible study in the middle of a creche (2) the leading bit

You've baby-proofed the house. You've put a child-friendly DVD on the television. You've set out some tempting toys, and placed morning tea on the pint-sized table. You retreat into the next room, leaving the door open, and pick up your Bibles.

What next? How do you lead a Bible study with a group of mums when you'll be interrupted every 5 minutes? Here's 9 things I've learned (much of this applies to any Bible study):

  • Allow time for chatting, but start on time. We meet at 10.00 for a 10.30 start. This gives women time to arrive and chat (nothing like motherhood to mess with your ability to get out the door!) but means we have enough time to do a Bible study and pray before lunch, even with interruptions.
  • Have the courage to lead. This is especially important when everyone's struggling to concentrate! Keep the discussion on track, draw women out, and sum up as you go. It can be helpful for everyone's addled brains if you stop asking questions and do some "teaching" here and there.
  • Be very, very clear. With everyone's attention wandering, make the steps of your study very clear: "Today we'll be covering...", "So far we've learned...", "As so-and-so said...", "Now we're going to look at...", "The three main points are...". Summarise as you go, and again at the end. List women's responses to a question (note them down if it helps). Conclude with a few clear application points. When you get home, send an email to remind everyone what you learned.
  • Focus on people not the task. If I get through my elaborately prepared study and women go away overwhelmed and confused, I've achieved nothing. Go with the flow, get a feel for where people are at, be flexible as you deal with disturbances, and ensure women are cared for during the week.
  • Pause for interruptions, but don't go too long. If a woman (or 3) needs to leave the room to change a nappy or check on the kids, don't worry: just pause the study for a few minutes, or keep it going and summarise when they return. Keep your study to under an hour: if you go too long, the kids will lose patience and the mums will lose concentration.
  • Don't expect too much. I've never forgotten the week I was part of the group. Sure enough, I found my mind slipping sideways! It gave me great sympathy for those who sit and try to concentrate every week, and helped me understand how much to expect.
  • Have confidence in God's word when everything falls apart. Sometimes we can't get our mummy brains into gear. Sometimes we can barely hear through the wall of noise (I once broke into a shout just to be heard!). It doesn't matter. When God's people meet around God's word - even if we only hear a small part of it! - he's there with us (Matt 18:20), and his word is powerful and effective (Isa 55:11, Heb 4:12). He'll make sure we hear what we need to hear.
  • Pray. Serve everyone by leading the prayer time after the Bible study, even if it means doing all the praying yourself. Ask for one prayer point and one way each person wants to change in response to the study, write them down, then pray. Pray for the women in your group before you lead the study. Pray for them on the way home. Pray.
  • Laugh. You'll need it.
images are from PeteSuze and Nongbri Family Pix at flickr


BGSydneyside said...

Thanks so much Jean. I've been leading a Bible study full of Mums with Kids in the other side of the hall- and lots of your suggests are really helpful- or are things that I've had to figure out as I've gone along!
But what a blessing. So great to see Mum's who are committed to learning and staying focused on Christ even when its extra hard work!

Sharon said...

Thanks for these pointers, Jean. They are very helpful and practical.

Jean said...

Thanks for your encouragement, B & Sharon. Good to hear about your mum's group, BG - good on you for leading it despite the difficulties, they are very blessed@

Deb L said...

Jean, this is great stuff! Could you also give some pointers for us mums? I haven't joined a daytime Bible study since having kids because it's all been too daunting. I'd love to hear you talk about the attitude mums should take to coming along and handling the chaos.

Jean said...

Ooh, a follow-up post...I love it! Any ideas?

Footprints Australia said...

When my kids were tiny, I ran a mums Bible study group. We had a Uni student come to look after the kids (in a separate room), and paid her by eaching putting a gold coin in the jar. That way it was affordable, she made some pocket money, and the mums got an hour to nourish their spirits, pray, and share without too many interruptions. And Mum was right there if for any reason a little one needed her ...

I miss those days now my two are teenagers and I'm back in the workforce!

Jean said...

Excellent idea about the student. Unfortunately, our students (who helped out for a while) all got busy on the morning we run our Bible study! Ah, well, you can't have it all!! :)

Rachach said...

Jean (and others who do the same),
What a wonderful example of women who have not given up the habit of meeting together but are encouarging one another regularly.

I am so encouraged to hear that you persevere with serving other mums in this way.

I must admit we have the blessing of a 'child care' situation in my weekly women's bible study as we enjoy having little interruptions.

I think it's amazing that you aim to keep on track with the bible study amidst te chaos. That requires a lot of patience and flexibilty for all of you.


Jean said...

Thanks, Rach. Some weeks it's a very close call. But other weeks the kids are quiet and we get a lot done, despite the distractions and fudgy brains. Whichever it is, there wouldn't be a week we didn't go away encouraged in at least one way from God's word - how amazing that is!