**This article by Rick Hove originally appeared on cru.org.
Small groups are designed to help people grow spiritually, so interacting with God’s Word through a Bible study or lesson is essential. Whether you are using pre-written studies or following the Small Group Lesson Template, it’s important to prepare in advance.
There are two important steps to preparing a lesson.
First: Apply the Lesson Yourself
You can’t lead a good discussion and point a group toward life-changing application if you haven’t studied and applied it yourself.
Study the lesson and ask God to teach you from His Word. Consider how the passage exposes your brokenness. Ask God to show you how He wants you to respond to Christ through what you are learning. If you’re personally applying the material, you’ll find it easier to provide personal illustrations.
Second: Prepare to Present the Lesson to Your Group
Go back through the lesson and think about how to help the group discover and apply its truths.
Here are four steps that will help you prepare to lead the lesson.
No matter how confident you feel in your ability to lead a group, continually ask God to guide you in your planning and implementation.
You can plant a seed and water it, but God must cause the growth. You can prepare a brilliant lesson, but God is the one who changes lives.
Spend time asking God to change you and the people in your group. Ask Him for wisdom and direction as you prepare. It’s possible to spend hours preparing for your group time, but the bottom line is it’s God who uses His Word and Spirit to work in and through you.
2. Discover the Big Idea
After you’ve spent some time studying the passage, summarize the big idea of your passage in a single sentence. “I think the big idea of this passage is __________.”
3. Determine the Learning Objectives
In light of what this passage is saying, answer the following questions:
- What do I want them to understand and believe?
- What do I want them to experience?
- How do I want them to respond to Christ?
Write down your answers at the start of the lesson. This will help you focus your questions and allocate your time around the key objectives of the study.
4. Choose the Best Questions for Your Group
Select questions and activities that will help group members discover and apply the truths of the lesson. Remember to:
- Think of specific examples you can share from your own life.
- Focus the lesson on the objectives you determined in step 3.
- Keep in mind that you want the group to discover and apply the truth themselves.
Taking the time to prepare the lesson for your small group is a worthwhile investment. Pray as you prepare and ask God to change your group members’ lives. Ask Him to guide your group as you study the Bible and to show you all how to apply it to your lives.