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Suggestions for the composition of Bible study groups...


By Andrew Mackinnon


Everybody in the church aged 9 years and older at the start of the calendar year can participate in a Bible study group.

Participation in Bible study groups for children aged 9 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year in Sunday school is compulsory, as Bible study groups are a key component of the Sunday school programme on Sunday morning for this older age-group.  I believe that it is highly beneficial to give children the opportunity at this formative age to sit around in a circle of twelve children their own age, six females and six males, and discuss the Bible under the guidance of a male Bible study group leader and a female Bible study group co-leader.  I believe that children this age also want this opportunity to interact with each other.

Participation in Bible study groups for teenagers aged 12 to 17 years at the start of the calendar year in Youth Group is compulsory, as Bible study groups are a key component of the Youth Group programme on Sunday afternoon.  I believe that it is similarly highly beneficial to give teenagers the opportunity to sit around in a circle of twelve teenagers their own age, six females and six males, and discuss the Bible under the guidance of a male Bible study group leader and a female Bible study group co-leader.  I believe that teenagers thrive in this kind of multilateral environment and that they quickly realise that there are people who genuinely care about their welfare when they are provided with this opportunity to freely interact with each other and freely discuss the Bible and other directly and indirectly relevant issues.

Participation in Bible study groups for adults aged 18 years and older at the start of the calendar year is not compulsory, however adult Bible study groups form a key component of each of the three Sunday church services and are a primary means by which members at church get to know each other.  Therefore, while participation in Bible study groups for adults is not compulsory, it is strongly encouraged.  Parents attending church in the morning service at 9:00 or the afternoon service at 15:15 who have children or teenagers, respectively, attending Sunday school or Youth Group, respectively, at the same time will have two hours of waiting time after the first 60 minutes of the church service has elapsed until they need to provide their children or teenagers with transport home from Sunday school or Youth Group if they donít participate in a Bible study group.  Given that Bible study groups provide the multilateral interaction between church members that sitting listening to preaching cannot, I canít imagine that, over time, there would be too many parents who would pass up the opportunity to participate in an engaging Bible study group in the meantime and get to know other parents in the church in the process.



Composition of on-site Bible study groups in Sunday school for children aged 9 to 11 years at the start of the calendar yearÖ

Bible study groups for children aged 9 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year, conducted as a key component in the Sunday school programme on Sunday morning, should probably be conducted on an age-specific basis, with groups for children aged 9 years, groups for children aged 10 years and groups for children aged 11 years, or they could be conducted on an age-mixed basis within this age-group of 9 to 11 years.  There are good reasons to keep all of the 9 year olds together, such as their limited social and cognitive development in comparison to their older peers, and there are possibly also advantages to exposing them to input from their older peers aged 10 and 11 years.  Itís really up to the Sunday school leaders to decide how they want to organise these children into Bible study groups.

If the Bible study groups for children aged 9 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year are conducted on an age-specific basis, then a good composition for a Bible study group comprising twelve children aged 9 years, for example, would be as follows:

3 x Pairs of female friends aged 9 years*

3 x Pairs of male friends aged 9 years*

1 x male Bible study group leader aged 18 plus years*, preferably a father of one or more of the children in the Sunday school, but not a father of one or more children in the Bible study group that he is leading

1 x female Bible study group co-leader aged 18 plus years*, preferably a mother of one or more of the children in the Sunday school, but not a mother of one or more children in the Bible study group that she is co-leading, married to the male Bible study group leader

* at the start of the calendar year

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.

Obviously, this method of composing the group can be similarly applied to the children aged 10 years or 11 years at the start of the calendar year.

If the Bible study groups for children aged 9 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year are conducted on an age-specific basis, a Bible study for children aged 9 years should only go for 30 minutes.  A Bible study for children aged 10 years can go longer for 40 minutes and a Bible study for children aged 11 years can go longer still for 50 minutes.  The objective is to gradually prepare them for 60 minute Bible studies in which theyíll be involved when they move up to Youth Group in the calendar year after they turn 12 years of age.

The married male leader and female co-leader of the Bible study group must not have one or more children of their own in the Bible study group that theyíre leading, otherwise those children will not be provided with the maximum opportunity to speak freely in the Bible study group.  If there were one or more children in the Bible study group who were the children of the parents leading the Bible study group, then they would be qualitatively different to the other children in the group, forming a majority, who are not the children of the parents leading the group.  The only logical composition of the group is therefore one in which no children in the group are the children of the married couple leading the group.

The purpose of composing the Bible study group of pairs of female friends and pairs of male friends is to ensure that there is nobody in the group who doesnít know anybody else in the group at the start of the group.  It can be quite daunting for anybody to join a Bible study group in which they donít know any other person in the group.

The reason why I prefer that it is a married couple who lead the Bible study group, being the parents of one or more of the children in the Sunday school, but not the parents of one or more children in the Bible study group, is that I believe that the responsibility for leading Sunday school should largely rest on the parents of the children in the Sunday school.  The spiritual growth of the children in the Sunday school is primarily the responsibility of the parents of those children.  However, given that a Bible study group of twelve children only requires one married couple to lead it, it is only those parents of the Sunday school children who are the most gifted and suited to leading Sunday school who would be called upon to provide such a valuable service by doing so.


If the Bible study groups for children aged 9 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year are conducted on an age-mixed basis, then a good composition for a Bible study group of twelve children would be as follows:

1 x Pair of female friends aged 9 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 9 years*

1 x Pair of female friends aged 10 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 10 years*

1 x Pair of female friends aged 11 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 11 years*

1 x male Bible study group leader aged 18 plus years*, preferably a father of one or more of the children in the Sunday school, but not a father of one or more children in the Bible study group that he is leading

1 x female Bible study group co-leader aged 18 plus years*, preferably a mother of one or more of the children in the Sunday school, but not a mother of one or more children in the Bible study group that she is co-leading, married to the male Bible study group leader

* at the start of the calendar year

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.



Composition of on-site Bible study groups in Youth Group for teenagers aged 12 to 14 years at the start of the calendar year...

Bible study groups for teenagers aged 12 to 14 years at the start of the calendar year, conducted as a key component in the Youth Group programme on Sunday afternoon, should be conducted on an age-mixed basis within this age-group so that the younger members of the group can benefit from the experience of the older members of the group.

A good composition for a Bible study group of twelve teenagers aged 12 to 14 years would be as follows:

1 x Pair of female friends aged 12 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 12 years*

1 x Pair of female friends aged 13 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 13 years*

1 x Pair of female friends aged 14 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 14 years*

1 x male Bible study group leader aged 18 plus years*

1 x female Bible study group co-leader aged 18 plus years*

* at the start of the calendar year

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.

The purpose of composing the Bible study group of pairs of female friends and pairs of male friends is to ensure that there is nobody in the group who doesnít know anybody else in the group at the start of the group.  It can be quite daunting for anybody to join a Bible study group in which they donít know any other person in the group.



Composition of on-site Bible study groups in Youth Group for teenagers aged 15 to 17 years at the start of the calendar year...

Bible study groups for teenagers aged 15 to 17 years at the start of the calendar year, conducted as a key component in the Youth Group programme on Sunday afternoon, should be conducted on an age-mixed basis within this age-group so that the younger members of the group can benefit from the experience of the older members of the group.

A good composition for a Bible study group of twelve teenagers aged 15 to 17 years would be as follows:

1 x Pair of female friends aged 15 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 15 years*

1 x Pair of female friends aged 16 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 16 years*

1 x Pair of female friends aged 17 years*

1 x Pair of male friends aged 17 years*

1 x male Bible study group leader aged 18 plus years*

1 x female Bible study group co-leader aged 18 plus years*

* at the start of the calendar year

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.

The purpose of composing the Bible study group of pairs of female friends and pairs of male friends is to ensure that there is nobody in the group who doesnít know anybody else in the group at the start of the group.  It can be quite daunting for anybody to join a Bible study group in which they donít know any other person in the group.



Composition of on-site and off-site Bible study groups in the 9:00 Sunday morning church service for parents of children attending Creche or Sunday school...

Bible study groups in the 9:00 Sunday morning church service for parents of children attending Creche or Sunday school should be conducted on a deliberately age-mixed basis so that the younger members of the group can benefit from the experience of the older members of the group.

A good composition for a Bible study group of twelve parents of children attending Creche or Sunday school would be as follows:

6 x married couples of various different ages with children attending Creche or Sunday school of various different ages

1 x older married couple leading the Bible study group with adult children aged 18 plus years at the start of the calendar year

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.

Since a husband and wife are one flesh, it makes perfect sense that they attend a Bible study group together.

The church of Jesus Christ desperately needs the wisdom and guidance of older married couples with adult children leading Bible study groups comprising other adults.  It is this vast reserve of experience that the church of Jesus Christ has neglected to tap into in years gone by.  Leadership of Bible study groups by older married couples in the church with adult children should be prized.

There are a lot of older married couples in the church of Jesus Christ, as well as older single males and older single females, who have vast wisdom to contribute to the church but who have previously been constrained by a culture which doesnít recognise their wealth of experience.  The key to changing this culture is for these older married couples and older singles to not only explain what the best way is but why itís the best way.  I personally have failed to heed much of the wisdom handed down to me by my elders because a lot of it came in the form of instructions without much in the way of why itís in my best interests to follow them.  What is also required to change this culture is dialogue between the generations.  There is no better context for this dialogue to take place than in Bible study groups comprising fourteen members sitting in a circle, engaged with each other in enriching multilateral communication.



Composition of off-site Bible study groups in the 13:30 Sunday afternoon church service for single adults aged 18 plus years and married adults without children...

Bible study groups in the 13:30 Sunday afternoon church service for single adults aged 18 plus years at the start of the calendar year and married adults without children can be segmented into groups for single adults and groups for married adults without children.

The groups for single adults should be conducted on a deliberately age-group specific basis.  These age-groups can be:

> 18 to 24 years of age*

> 25 to 34 years of age*

> 35 plus years of age*

* at the start of the calendar year

These age-groups avoid the unwelcome and awkward scenario of single males aged more than 30 years attending a Bible study group with single females aged 18 years who are best suited to later marrying their male peers of around the same age rather than males aged more than 12 years older than them.

Within each of the three age-groups above, a good composition for a Bible study group of twelve single adults would be as follows:

> 6 x Females

> 6 x Males

> 1 x single male leader of the Bible study group

> 1 x single female co-leader of the Bible study group

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.


The groups for married adults without children can be conducted on a deliberately age-group mixed basis so that the younger members of the group can benefit from the experience of the older members of the group.

A good composition for a Bible study group of twelve married adults without children would be as follows:

6 x married couples of various ages without children (e.g. 22 to 34 years, 35 to 44 years, 45 to 54 years, 55 to 64 years, 65 to 74 years, 75 plus years)

1 x older married couple leading the Bible study group with adult children aged 18 plus years at the start of the calendar year

OR

1 x older married couple leading the Bible study group without children

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.

Since a husband and wife are one flesh, it makes perfect sense that they attend a Bible study group together.

The church of Jesus Christ desperately needs the wisdom and guidance of older married couples with or without adult children leading Bible study groups comprising other adults.  It is this vast reserve of experience that the church of Jesus Christ has neglected to tap into in years gone by.  Leadership of Bible study groups by older married couples in the church with or without adult children should be prized.

There are a lot of older married couples in the church of Jesus Christ, as well as older single males and older single females, who have vast wisdom to contribute to the church but who have previously been constrained by a culture which doesnít recognise their wealth of experience.  The key to changing this culture is for these older married couples and older singles to not only explain what the best way is but why itís the best way.  I personally have failed to heed much of the wisdom handed down to me by my elders because a lot of it came in the form of instructions without much in the way of why itís in my best interests to follow them.  What is also required to change this culture is dialogue between the generations.  There is no better context for this dialogue to take place than in Bible study groups comprising fourteen members sitting in a circle, engaged with each other in enriching multilateral communication.



Composition of on-site and off-site Bible study groups in the 15:15 Sunday afternoon church service for parents of teenagers attending Youth GroupÖ

Bible study groups in the 15:15 Sunday afternoon church service for parents of teenagers attending Youth Group should be conducted on a deliberately age-mixed basis so that the younger members of the group can benefit from the experience of the older members of the group.

A good composition for a Bible study group of twelve parents of teenagers attending Youth Group would be as follows:

6 x married couples of various different ages with teenagers attending Youth Group of various different ages

1 x older married couple leading the Bible study group with adult children aged 18 plus years at the start of the calendar year

This totals fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether.

Since a husband and wife are one flesh, it makes perfect sense that they attend a Bible study group together.

The church of Jesus Christ desperately needs the wisdom and guidance of older married couples with adult children leading Bible study groups comprising other adults.  It is this vast reserve of experience that the church of Jesus Christ has neglected to tap into in years gone by.  Leadership of Bible study groups by older married couples in the church with adult children should be prized.

There are a lot of older married couples in the church of Jesus Christ as well as older single males and older single females, who have vast wisdom to contribute to the church but who have previously been constrained by a culture which doesnít recognise their wealth of experience.  The key to changing this culture is for these older married couples and older singles to not only explain what the best way is but why itís the best way.  I personally have failed to heed much of the wisdom handed down to me by my elders because a lot of it came in the form of instructions without much in the way of why itís in my best interests to follow them.  What is also required to change this culture is dialogue between the generations.  There is no better context for this dialogue to take place than in Bible study groups comprising fourteen members sitting in a circle, engaged with each other in enriching multilateral communication.





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