Setting up a group study


Group Guidelines

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Starting a Scripture Study Group

A scripture study group can be started by a ward as an enrichment activity, by two wards meeting together, or as a stake activity.  Some individuals, couple missionaries for example, are using the Sisters at the Well scripture study materials for their own personal study.

The Basics

Each year’s study covers one book or section of scripture so that the sisters can have the experience of studying the word of God in more depth than it is possible to do in a gospel doctrine class that must cover one of the Standard Works in a year.  The lessons are designed to provide guided study materials for personal study. Sisters meet together weekly or every other week to discuss together the insights they gleaned from their personal study. When there are notes, they are to be read after answering the questions. They are not intended as source material for answers. The scriptures are the only source we use for answering the study guide questions. We want you to learn to search the scriptures for yourselfAfter you have exercised your brain and spirit, you are welcome to see what others say and have learned from the same scriptures.

Group Leaders

During group meetings, the group leader conducts the discussion by going through the lesson questions one at a time and calling on sisters to share the answers they have written during their personal study. Usually this is done by just going around the room in turn, and answering the question that comes to you. If there is time, the group leader may say, ‘Does anyone have something to add?’

The group leader is not a teacher.  There is no teacher.  The person designated to be the discussion leader at meetings is not even necessarily the person who knows the most about the scriptures.  What is needed is someone who is good at group dynamics and who is sensitive to the spirit and able to keep things moving.  There is a separate file for Group Leaders that should be downloaded if you are the leader.

Study Group Schedule

Your group will have to determine the meeting schedule that works best for you.  We recommend a weekly meeting. (This is a change from the every other week schedule we recommended in the past. But we have heard your feedback and noted the successes of groups using a weekly meeting schedule.) Meeting every other week is still a possibility. If meeting weekly seems like a huge commitment, consider the following: A weekly meeting will mean that inevitably women will have to miss some of the meetings.  Things come up in all our busy lives.  However, when you miss a class that meets weekly, you will only go two weeks without meeting.  If you miss a class that meets every other week, you will have gone an entire month without being part of a group discussion. A sister is much more likely to lose motivation when such a long time goes by between meeting with her group. Meeting weekly also means that there is far less to cover at one meeting, which translates into more discussion time and shorter meetings.

Finally, we have learned by experience, that many sisters put off doing the written work until the proverbial day before. If you have put off four pages of questions, it is going to be impossible to do the work. We don’t recommend “cramming” and hope that every sister learns to make scripture study part of her daily routine. But for those inevitable times when we have put it off, a shorter lesson helps us catch up.

As for what day and time to meet, it is going to come down to what works for the women in your group.  We have seen women solve these scheduling problems in many creative ways and we know that if you make this a matter of prayer you will find the schedule that is workable for your sisters. Some wards have more than one group: a night group and a day group for example. Some meet early Saturday morning.

Most ward groups will want to take a break for Thanksgiving, restart sometime in January and be finished by May.  Any meeting place is fine--a home or meeting house.

Lesson Materials

This study presupposes that participants have access to the internet, where they can download the lessons and study notes.  (available at <> ) If there are sisters in your group who do not have access to the internet, someone should take responsibility to print out written copies for them.

After a group meeting, (or after answering the written questions) a sister can read the study notes that go with a lesson if there are any.  (Some lessons have study notes, some don’t.)   Though doing written work may seem like “homework,” remember, this isn’t school.  There are no right and wrong answers. You are recording what you get out of the scriptures for your life. 

We encourage you to pace yourself when you begin a new set of questions so that you do a little each day.  This encourages daily scripture reading and study--a marvelous habit that is one of the goals of the group.  On each sheet of questions there is space to write your answers.  We know that the spaces are small. If you are printing out the file and answering with a pen, use a fine tip pen and write small! Turn the page over and write on the back. Many of the studies come with two versions of each file, a pdf. file and a Microsoft Word file (docx). If you wish to download the doc. file you can “write” your answers using the computer, perhaps even using a different color type. This way you can take as much space as you wish.

Remember that the exercise of writing down what you are learning is an important part of the study.  The discipline of organizing your thoughts into written words really cements what you have studied into your mind and heart.  This study time becomes a real communication between you and the One whose words we’re studying.  Many sisters have told us how valuable an exercise it is to write down their thoughts.

One more time: No outside sources are allowed.  We don’t want to know what an expert thought about the reading.  We want you to share what you gained for your own life through interacting with the Spirit of the Lord in His Word.  Many of the questions involve a personal application.  They are designed to help you think about how you could use scriptural principles in your own life.  We are not against reading other people’s ideas about the scriptures. Just do it after you have had your own personal experience with them.

Meeting Times

Meetings should be kept short--ideally one hour to an hour and 15 mins.   It helps if sisters arrive 5 minutes early for greetings and an opening prayer.  This allows meetings to start on time.  If you have not written an answer down for a particular question, you don’t get to share during the discussion on that question.  It really isn’t fair to make exceptions to this rule. And human nature being what it is, if we don’t have to have written answers, we will lose the motivation to do the study in this way, which will in the end, destroy the whole purpose: which is to enrich your personal study time.

Don’t Give Up

After years of working with women’s scripture study groups there are some things we have learned to expect.  For example:

  1. 1.Sometimes you will have to miss a group meeting.  Things come up.  It happens to all of us.                            Don’t give up!

  2. 2.Sometimes you don’t get much done or written during a particularly busy week.  Come to the group meeting anyway.  You will learn from the other sisters and come away inspired and spiritually refreshed. 

    Don’t give up!

  1. 3.Satan knows how important this is.  He will send all sorts of distractions and discouragement and rationalizations to quit.  He will tell you that you have missed too much and can’t catch up to the rest of the sisters.  Nonsense!  Realize where the opposition is coming from and     

    Don't give up!