Click below to listen to this post about great books to read with your small group on the Candidly Kendra podcast:
Have you ever read a book by yourself and thought it was fine, probably would be really helpful if you were in a different place in life, and then you talk to a friend who loved it and suddenly realize that you missed the whole point? There is something special about reading a book along with a group of friends and realizing that you can dig so much deeper than you would have on your own.
For the past 10 years (or so) I have gone through a different book every summer with my small group Bible study.
First of all, let me address the question you may be asking: “If it’s a Bible study, why are you reading other books instead?” The answer, in a nutshell, is that we do often go through the Bible itself, spending a few months discussing Ephesians or taking a walk through Psalms. But we have also learned that God uses great teachers (writers, in this case) to bring his Word alive through their interpretation and application for our lives.
How To Use a Book In Your Small Group Bible Study
1. Keep the homework minimal
We hate when someone decides to skip the study because they didn’t get the homework done. Or worse, if they quit coming altogether! So we simplify it for everyone and prefer to read the chapter out loud as part of our study. That way, any newcomers are completely in-the-know, and no one needs to skip. Of course, it’ll be best if you read books with short chapters. (Good news! Each of the books on my list below fits this desccription.)
2. “So, what did you guys think?”
Don’t overthink this. All you’ve really got to do to lead a book-study-Bible-study is to read the chapter together and then ask “What do you think?” Don’t let a little silence scare you. Just give them time to gather their thoughts and they’ll be ready to go! In fact, most people learn best by processing through their own thoughts – either verbally or internally. Resist the temptation to teach, and learn to listen more.
3. Bring in the Bible
It is a Bible study after all. As you read the week’s chapter in preparation, make a note of the Bible verses mentioned by the author. Read them to determine which verses you’d like to talk about with the group. If no Bible verses were directly mentioned, take a little bit of time to think through verses or passages that apply to the topic. If worse comes to worst, get your small group used to the question, “Where do we see this concept in Scripture? Do any verses come to mind?”
If you would like to try reading a book with your small group this summer…and if you do, I highly recommend the added ambiance of a great backyard setup, tikki torches, and barbecued ribs…here are some books that went over very well with our group.
(PS. The links below are Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you use these links to purchase a book I may receive a small commission. It has literally never happened, so don’t worry about me getting rich and snooty off this.)
The Book That Showed Us A Beautiful Christ
I just thought I’d go ahead and get this one out of the way. If you have a Christian friend who likes to read, you’ve already heard about this book.
The thing about this book is that I’m fairly certain that if I’d read it on my own I wouldn’t have mined its treasure quite as well as I did in our small group. The discussions about Christ in this book, based on Scripture and Puritan writings, were almost shocking….but in a beautiful and inspiring way.
Dane Ortlund is incredibly intelligent, wholly biblical, and yet understands perfectly our human struggles with believing in a gentle and lowly King.
The Book With Timeless Wisdom
Have you read this book lately? I think you’ll be surprised (like I was) that this book, written in 1941 is perfectly relevant for today. In fact, it feels like Lewis was looking through a crystal ball to see exactly what issues we would face today.
Actually, this book is about you. If Satan’s Head-Tempter were having a conversation with an underling about you, what would he say? What would make his rejoice? What would make him despair?
Take another look at this book with your small group. I think you’ll love the discussion!
The Book for Christians Who’ve Got It Together. …Or Do They?
The final book on the list of my top books for small group Bible study is Jerry Bridges’ exploration of the sins that tend to slip our notice. Are you pretty good at being good? Are you a respectable person? There’s a good chance that your sins are pretty “respectable,” too.
You’ll hate it…but you’ll love it!