There are many approaches to studying the Bible in a group setting. Unfortunately, most groups have no format, making it easy for one person to do most of the talking or for those present to wander aimlessly from topic to topic. To guard against these pitfalls, I recommend a very valuable chapter-by-chapter approach borrowed and modified from Professor Erbes at Andrews University. For nearly three years I've used this approach with a group of ladies in our church. We have enjoyed our time together and have gained rich insights. You don't need a degree in religion to lead out. A moderator or someone that can get everyone to participate is all that's required, along with a love for the Scriptures.
Many in our group have kept notebooks of the chapters we've discussed. This is especially simple.
We break each chapter into four main sections: Title of the Chapter—may be one given in the Bible or one a participant gives. Doctrines—includes the 27 fundamental beliefs in addition to others we might include. Evidence of God's Love and Lessons Learned. You may not find all of these in each chapter, but everyone can learn from what others discover.
Each group member is encouraged to study daily using the following method. First, pray, requesting that the Holy Spirit will make a specific application to your life. Then scan the chapter for the title. Read it again looking for doctrines. Searching for evidences of God's love, read it a third time. Finally, look for lessons that God wants you to learn.
A personal study journal is an excellent tool which also can be an invaluable bank for sermon ideas.
A typical page in my own journal might contain the following notes:
Study of Genesis 1
Title—Creation Days 1-6.
A. Literal creation in six 24-hour days;
B. Trinity v. 3, 26;
C. Everything God made, He said was very good;
D. God made man in "Our image."
A. I can feel good about myself because God made man in His image. I am of value because God created man and "it was good."
B. God takes care of my needs because He took care of food for man and animals.
Our group then shares what we've learned individually, and I add new thoughts I've gleaned to my journal.
Since costly workbooks are not needed, low expense is a helpful feature of this approach. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentaries and Conflict of the Ages Series are readily available for most members to complement their study.
As you and your group consistently continue in this type of study, you'll be surprised at what you find with more than a casual reading of God's Word. You will draw closer to each other, be rewarded with the awesome knowledge of God's never-failing love and challenged to seek a closer walk with Him.