How Do I Choose the Right Bible Study?

Selecting the best Bible study to match your group’s needs is a challenge. We may be persuaded to choose the most recent or most popular study on the market, but it could turn out to be the wrong choice. Judy Dunagan offers this practical guide to help you discern the right one.

We’d love to hear from you! Which studies have been the most fruitful in your ministry? Leave a comment with your top recommendations, and check out a few of our favorites.Leslie Bennett, Women’s Ministry Initiatives

“Would you prayerfully consider starting a new ministry to women at our church?”

I remember being somewhat taken aback when our senior and executive pastors met with me back in 2001 to ask that question. Our young family had moved about every two years due to my husband’s job transfers, and my commitment to women’s ministry leadership up to this point had been leading neighborhood outreach book clubs and Bible studies in my home.

I responded, “If the main focus is getting women into the Word, then sign me up!”

That was almost twenty years ago, when there seemed to be a new awakening in His Church to go deeper into His Word within community. Women’s leaders were clamoring for ways to equip women to teach and study His Word together. Thankfully, there were some excellent Bible studies being published that helped women get into the Word every day. The Holy Spirit used those studies in my own walk to create a new hunger and thirst for His Word.

Today there are so many women’s Bible studies to choose from—many with video curriculum by bestselling authors and speakers—that it is often difficult to determine which studies to choose for the Bible studies you oversee in your ministry. Having so many choices can seem somewhat overwhelming. If you lead a women’s ministry in a larger church, I assume you and your leadership team have wrestled with these questions (and more):

Should we offer six-, eight- or ten-week studies?
Do women prefer verse-by-verse or topical studies?
What studies are best for millennials, young moms, or baby boomers?
Are we becoming too dependent on video-led studies?

Recently, I asked a Bible study author to share how she and her team select curriculum for the women’s studies in their church. This is the wise counsel of Crickett Keeth, director of women’s ministry at First Evangelical Church in Memphis:

One of my responsibilities . . . is to decide which Bible studies we use each year. With so many to pick from, I want to make sure I am choosing one that will equip women to dig into God’s Word on their own instead of just reading someone else’s commentary on the passages. Just because it’s a popular study doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for our women. To help determine which Bible study to use with our Women’s Ministry, we ask these five questions:

  1. Is it doctrinally solid?

Does the study consistently direct them to the Bible? Does it stay true to the Word or use today’s culture to interpret the meaning? Research the author and publisher to be sure their doctrine lines up with that of your church.

  1. Is it too informational?

I have found that my women like being guided to think on their own instead of just reading the author’s answers in the next paragraph. They want a guide that leads them through studying God’s Word for themselves, not a book that does the study for them.

  1. Is it thought-provoking?

Do the questions make them wrestle with the Scripture, or are the answers straightforward? We need observation questions, but we also need questions that make us think and would promote rich small group discussion.

  1. Is it the right fit and format?

Is it the right difficulty level, the right amount of homework each day, the right length? Will it encourage consistency in the Word daily?

  1. Is it practical?

They want to dig into the Word and study the meaning of a passage, but they want more than head knowledge. Does the study guide them to apply the Scripture to daily life?1

I wish I had access to Crickett’s list years ago when I first started out as a women’s ministry leader in charge of selecting our Bible study curriculum each semester at my church! In addition to her list, I’d like to offer a few more suggestions as you seek the right Bible study curriculum for your ministry:

Cover the Decision in Prayer

Be sure to cover the selection process in prayer before making your final decision on what studies to offer. I remember one late summer when I hastily chose a women’s study on my own, partly because our community was in the midst of recovering from fires that had devastated many of our neighborhoods where our pastors and leaders lived. Reeling from the shock of that disaster, I had to make a quick decision in order to promote our fall studies in time.

The newly-released study I chose ended up being very disappointing to all of us. It was driven by personality and contained more fluff than deep study in the Word. Deadlines for promoting studies are important to meet, but if the decision isn’t covered in prayer and you rush it, you might find yourself in a similar situation.

Seek Other Voices

Include your leadership team in the decision-making process or form a new team of women in your church to help select curriculum. I know several women’s ministry leaders who ask their leadership teams to first go through a study together to determine if they want to offer it to all the women in their larger Bible studies or home groups.

Survey the Women in the Studies

It is wise to survey the women attending the studies at least once or twice a year to learn more about your “audience.” You can tailor the survey to gather information about their demographics (age, stage of life, etc.) and to learn more about the type of studies they are seeking. We found this particularly helpful as our ministry began to grow and draw in younger women, including young moms and new believers.

Dear leader, my prayer is that God’s voice will be the loudest over you and your team as you seek His best choice for the Bible studies you offer through your ministry. It is important that the decision is Spirit-led rather than consumer-driven. There are many voices and opinions coming at you as a leader of women. Remember that our God is faithful and that He goes before you and behind you as you seek His leading in discipling the women you serve.

1 Crickett Keeth, “Five Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Next Bible Study,” The Ultimate Bible Study Guide, Moody Publishers, 2019.

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About the Author

Judy Dunagan

Judy Dunagan

Judy Dunagan served as a women’s ministry leader for twenty years before joining Moody Publishers in 2014 as an acquiring editor for the women's line of books and discipleship resources. A wonder seeker who chases knowledge of God and His Word, Judy is passionate about discipling women and making God’s Word come alive in everyday life. Judy and her husband, Rick, love their empty-nest years in the Colorado mountains.

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