Ongoing Bible study groups meet every week with no predetermined ending date. Sunday School is an example of an ongoing group. Resources for ongoing groups have advantages that may encourage you to take a second look at the value these resources bring to the group.
1. Balanced study plan.
This is arguably the biggest advantage. Half the battle of leading a group is figuring out what to actually study. If left alone, most of us teachers will gravitate to our sugar sticks, teach what we already know, or teach the things we know we are already doing. Ongoing resources that follow an organized and reasoned plan help me find balance within our group study.
2. Forces me to go to the hard places.
There are some topics that are just difficult or that I would rather avoid in a Bible study group. Using an ongoing resource and sticking to their plan challenges me as a leader to tackle some of the difficult topics found in Scripture.
3. Removes suspicion.
Some people always seem to be suspicious. They wonder why we studied what we studied thinking that it was directed toward a person in the group (but rarely toward them). Using ongoing Bible study resources eliminates this since we are simply following the scope and sequence for that particular resource set.
4. Saves time.
Examining a Bible passage, determining a specific direction, crafting question sets, and putting together a plan all take time. Using an ongoing resource set gives me back some time in my week. I may not use everything provided, but I have it if I need it.
5. Frees me to teach.
Some think that using ongoing resources enslaves them because they feel like they need to cover everything in the book but instead I choose to look at how it frees me. Using a resource gives me the freedom to focus on one section in that resource set knowing that the group can use the resource outside the group time to look at the other sections we didn’t cover as a group. It would be silly to think the only way they will cover a passage is when they are sitting in the same room with me. I need to free them to study on their own.
6. Benefit of multiple scholars and voices.
In most ongoing Bible study resources, a variety of people with different skills and expertise have contributed. These resources also tend to endure multiple reviews. No one person fully understands all the nuances of every passage, doctrine, or teaching approach. Multiple voices strengthens the final resource.
7. Adapting is easier than creating from scratch.
Even if I don’t like the teaching ideas or questions, I at least have a starting place from which to build. For me, I would rather adapt than create out of nothing.
8. Cost effective.
Most ongoing Bible study resources are printed in larger numbers which keeps the cost down comparatively.
9. Tool for those unable to attend.
Ongoing Bible study resources usually include a resource for the individual participant and the leader. That means even those who are unable to attend a group meeting can still benefit from Bible study if they have the participant resource in their hands. I sometimes forget that Bible study can and should happen even if a person is unable to attend.
10. Tool for inviting those who should attend.
I can use the participant resource as a tool to invite people to attend our group. Since the cost is usually less than other options, doing this will not break the bank. Providing the resource can also remove some of the awkwardness when they ask what we do in that Bible study group.