How to facilitate a Bible study home group

What is Facilitation?

Facilitation is a process where people gain new knowledge by participating in the Bible study rather that listening to information being presented by the ‘expert’ (be it the facilitator or pastor).  It is a process where people learn by being actively involved in the process.

Facilitating is an art of providing the right stimulus to a group so that they participate fully in their own spiritual growth.  The focus is therefore not on telling (preaching to) a group what to do, but rather on asking the right questions that will enable the group to “discover” truths and principles.

Facilitation is not teaching, not telling, not lecturing, not preaching, and not directing.

Facilitation is to provide the resources and the structure for group members to explore, learn and develop.


Auckland Park Theological Seminary (ATS) is developing Bible study resources and are making them available to the body of Christ. (If you want to be notified of new resources then please subscribe to our mailing list).

The resources that ATS make available had been written in such a manner that it provides you with content and questions needed to facilitate group discussions. You can look at some of our resources, for example the Prayer study handbook (13 week study course), or Holy Spirit study course (7 week study course) or Forgiveness: a Christ-centered perspective (1 week study). These resources are available in written format, accompanied by video and/or audio readings of the content. Included are also questions for each week that you and your group can discuss.

Download the “Guide to Facilitate a Bible study home group” as a printable PDF for your home cell →


While this facilitation guide aims to helps you structure the meetings, as facilitator you are not going to present a lesson but rather facilitate the Bible study to achieve spiritual growth. 

To be effective in your task as facilitator you would however need to study the section in depth before the group meets.  You would need to allow time for the Holy Spirit to work in your own life and help that the section becomes part of your spiritual life.  We therefore propose that the week before a Bible study group meeting, you study the section during your daily devotional time.  This might sound contradictory since you are not going to teach, lecture or preach to the group – they are going to discover it together, for themselves.  This is absolutely true, but as facilitator you want to have a grip on the content of the lesson AND also look at the social dynamics to see if someone is left out of the discussion, or if someone is going off topic, etc.  When you are not familiar with the content, you might not be able to master these two different functions at the same time.

When facilitating a Bible study discussion there are certain outcomes that you would like to achieve.  Explicitly stating the outcomes of a lesson before you start, will help you to facilitate the process more effectively and secondly, it gives you a way to measure if you were successful or not in obtaining your goals.  In many of our Bible study material we will formulate outcomes for the individual session or for the course as a whole, but some do not have formulated outcomes. When outcomes are not provided it would be a good exercise to formulate your own while doing your preparation. Ask yourself what should people understand and feel after completing today’s study – what would the Holy Spirit want people to understand and feel?

Structure of the Bible study

Opening and welcoming

Begin the discussion by opening in prayer (or asking for a volunteer) and welcoming everybody.

You may or may not want to start with a quick ‘icebreaker’ to help everybody become more relaxed. A very useful icebreaker may be what we call “Highs and Lows”.

Highs and Lows

The group starts at one end and each person briefly tells the group what their “high” (that is the highlight of their past week) was, and also what their “low” (that is a challenge, frustration or loss) during the past week was.

It should be a brief exercise where everyone is free to share whatever they feel comfortable with.  If they do not want to share the extreme low but only give a minor low, that is fine.  Don’t expand the sharing. Rather, after the Bible study, people may have the opportunity to talk to each other and get more detail should they want to.

We have experienced this to be a very beneficial “ice breaker” as it helps the group members to get to know each other better, to develop empathy and care for one another, and so builds true friendships.  Some of the “highs and lows” are often also included in the final prayers at the end of the meeting: thanking the Lord for an important provision or making a significant request.

Praise and worship

Sing one or three songs that glorify the Lord and that help everyone to focus on His great love and might.  It is to get away from our own lives, the restrictions and frustration we have, and to place our focus solely on Him; to allow the Holy Spirit to work His love and glory in our hearts.

Bible study

Ideally every member of the group needs to read the chapter at home in preparation for the group meeting. (This will not always be possible as people forget when they have a busy week.)

Read, watch or listen to the applicable chapter to get an overview of the information and then during the group’s time together, give opportunity to talk about:

  • what stood out for you? (What did you find surprising?)
  • what have you learned? and/or
  • what have you re-discovered, or what highlighted that what you’ve already known?

In the group, read the relevant scriptures (if there are too many the facilitator should decide beforehand which to read) and then discuss the questions in the group.

Follow the questions and text in the material to guide your discussion.  These questions were designed to help facilitate the learning of key concepts.  By doing the questions, the group gets an opportunity to make the principles their own. The Bible doesn’t what us to only “hear” but rather “hear and do”. Allow for participation by everybody. Be careful to bring the discussions back should people go off topic. 

Make sure all members get an opportunity to speak and be heard.  Some members may tend to talk more than they should, and the facilitator should be sensitive to ensure that no one person “hijacks” proceedings. (e.g. “thank you for your useful contribution. Let’s hear what the rest of the group has to say.” or “We will get back to your useful insight but time is running out.” etc.) The facilitator should also not “hijack” the meeting.  Do not fall into the trap of saying: “I hear what you are saying but ….”  and then continue as if you have not heard what had been said.

To end the Bible study, the facilitator can give a brief summary of the discussion. For this you may make use of the outcomes that were formulated for the chapter.

Close in prayer

Close the meeting in prayer.  You can pray or ask somebody to volunteer to close the meeting in prayer.  Ask if members have requests that they want to be included in the prayer.

Briefly inform members of the next meeting and what reading to do at home during the week in preparation for the next meeting.


Depending on time constrains it might be useful to allow some socialisation after the meeting.  Drinking coffee and tea together might be a welcome event.  (Think carefully before you serve treats as it might become too much of a financial burden to sustain.  The group might consider donating a small amount to a kitty to buy milk, coffee, tea and maybe some dry biscuits.)

Self-evaluation by the facilitator

To grow your skill set as facilitator, you can privately evaluate yourself and make notes on areas where you might want to improve.

  • Look at the set outcomes and evaluate for yourself to what degree you think the group has achieved the outcomes.
  • What might have hindered the full realisation of the outcomes?
  • What have contributed to the realisation of the outcomes?
  • What do you plan to change (if anything) for next week?
Please let us know in the comments below if you found this guide useful, if we missed any points, or if you have interesting "ice breakers" you use when facilitating your cell group.


  1. Tawane Lincoln Rabotho

    This is very helpful. Can I get a copy of this?

    • The ATS Team

      Hi Tawane, these is a link under the “Resources” section above, where you can download the facilitation guide in a printable format.

  2. mooketsi moraka

    Very useful material and eye opening explanations. A definite must have for those who want to make progres in empowering growing christians. Thank you so much.

    • The ATS Team

      Thank you for your comment Mooketsi.

      Yes! We want to see a strong and empowered Kingdom of God!

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