In spite of what many denominations may teach and practice, the New Testament supports the concept of small groups, led by those who are not "ordained," meeting to worship God and conduct studies of the Bible. Aquila and Priscilla, a couple the Apostle Paul met during his second missionary journey, led a home fellowship (Romans 16:3, 5). A man by the name of Nymphas, who lived in Laodicea, also hosted a home fellowship (Colossians 4:15). Philemon, from where we get the Scriptural book of the same name, led a fellowship as well (Philemon 2).
Believers are commanded to not only meet on a regular basis but also to make it a goal to encourage other people in the ways of God, "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged" (1Corinthians 14:31).
Christians meeting together to stir each other up to do good is especially important in the end time before the return of Christ. The Apostle Paul admonishes us in the book of Hebrews, "And let us be concerned about one another, and be stirring up one another unto love and good works; Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, even as some are accustomed to do; but rather, encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24 - 25).
The person chosen to lead a particular meeting should first pray about the subject they wish to discuss. They should pray that God will lead them to not only instruct but also encourage his or her fellow believers. Prepare notes with Biblical references and whatever help you need from sources such as reference books. The Internet (and this Web site) is an excellent way to get ideas and gather the information necessary to hold a successful discussion about God's word. One method of many in leading a discussion is to have those attending the study to read a passage based on a particular topic. After the passage is read, others can then offer their comments. The important thing to keep in mind is to think about how others can be helped by what is taught and discussed.
The Bible should ultimately speak for itself when conducting a meeting to understand better the Scriptures. The person or persons leading a discussion can stimulate a response from others through the asking of questions.
Tips to avoid problems
Here are some tips for conducting Bible studies that will help you avoid certain problems.
No single person should dominate a service or study. One person speaking while all others listen (like the standard sermon given in most denomination pulpits) is NOT an effective way of teaching! Discussion helps clarify what is read and taught.
Those who attend studies of God's word should be encouraged to avoid intense and heated debates. Such behavior can tear an otherwise fruitful meeting apart!
Try to keep the discussion on the general topic being discussed. Discussions that stray far from the stated subject can end up boring and alienating some of those in attendance.
Those who do NOT listen to others learn little if anything from the Bible and do not benefit others. Encourage give and take in your meetings.
Be VARY wary of those who might use meetings for selfish purposes, such as a forum to push either their own "pet doctrines" or their unique prophetic interpretations, or to impress others in order to gain a following.
Please be mindful, as you prepare and conduct Bible studies, that many people may have to work the day after the meeting. Keep the time of the meeting to a reasonable length (one to two hours).