If you’ve been in the faith community for any length of time you may have heard stories of church ladies with their Jello cakes and fellowship hall gatherings. As a young girl, I remember tagging along with my mom to women’s craft nights and Christmas ornament exchanges complete with punch and mixed nuts. I assumed attending scheduled programming, dressing like those women dressed, and talking like those women talked, was all there was to Christian women’s get-togethers. And I wasn’t exactly excited about joining them as a grown-up. Even in my twenties, the idea of a women’s Bible study didn’t seem to spark much joy. I just couldn’t get pumped up about video Bible studies in church basements with coffee and powdered creamer.

I was craving something fresh, something different.

As an adult, I pursued church ministry and found myself at Christian women’s shindigs on the regular. After a decade of ministry, I was ready for something new. I longed to create a space for women to connect outside what I had seen before. I longed for more than sitting at a table of eight, with women I hardly knew and talk through our pre-assigned homework. And with that thought, a quiet revolution was born. Join me. Together we can show love towards women, provide a space to belong, and leave room for the soul to be refreshed – without the use of powdered coffee creamer.

Here are six ways to create a women’s Bible study you may actually want to attend:

Find a creative space.

While it may be free and convenient to host a Bible study at your local church multi-purpose room, finding a fresh space is worth the hunt. I host Sip and Savor, a women’s Bible study, at a local restaurant on Sunday nights. I worked out with the owner and head chef to occupy the 65 seat restaurant on its only night off. It’s a clean space, with a 22 seat communal table anchored in the center of the restaurant. It’s a hip place in town that offers an industrial feel that I could never recreate on my own.

Have good food.

Pass on fruit cake, potato salad, and grocery store donuts. For the love, if you are going to provide donuts, let them be fancy. While you could serve just coffee or tea, it’s something sacred to break bread together. It’s an even sweeter night when the food is absolutely delicious. When I approached the owner of the restaurant I asked that he create shareable bites we could enjoy and wines to match. We’ve had salmon tartare, beet and chèvre salad, and gorgeous cheese plates. We’ve paired them with a velvety merlot and bright pinot grigio. Women pay a nominal fee to attend that covers their drinks, nibbles, and a journal.

Make time to connect.

It can be easy to dive right into the study in an effort to cover all the pre-planned content. While the reason to gather is to connect and pour over the scriptures, it’s vital to have time for unplanned conversations. At Sip, the first half hour is time for nibbles and wine. It’s time for women to make connections and catch up. No agenda, just time to enjoy yourself. While many women in their twenties and thirties have babies at home and houses to clean, Sip is their night out with girlfriends.

Let them sit where they want.

Countless Bible studies assign tables or individual seats to attendees. While that can work, it can be somewhat uncomfortable for women who don’t have the choice to sit where they prefer. I’ve found it to be effective to invite women to bring a friend who they already feel comfortable with. It can often be a women’s greatest fear to be in a room of women she doesn’t know. Letting women sit where they want, although a simple concept, can make a world of a difference. At Sip, we allow 35 minutes of teaching and a half hour to talk through questions that relate to the teaching. Conversations are able to go as deep as they want. Having a trusted friend at the table, in addition to others met at Sip, creates an atmosphere of comfort and security.

Keep expectations outside of Bible study realistic.

While many Bible studies require daily homework I think it’s imperative to keep healthy expectations of what women can accomplish. While regular devotional time is heavily encouraged it can look different for each woman. For the women who connect to Jesus through journaling, encourage journaling. For the women who connect through reading five chapters of the Bible a day, encourage her to read five chapters a day, or for the women who connect through meditating on one small passage, encourage her to do just that. At Sip, we don’t require homework but instead provide journal and prayer prompts as well as the scripture passages on a postcard to take home for the week.

Keep in touch.

At the core of our makeup, we desire to belong. We long to know someone is for us, standing with us, and praying for us. When we feel loved we thrive. At Sip, we ask every woman to fill out a prayer request before she leaves so the few of us who host can pray over requests during the week. We text her encouragement for her specific request mid-week. It has been a highlight for many of the women to know someone will be praying for her throughout the four-week session, in addition to the women she chooses to sit with during Bible study.

Creating a space for women to connect to Jesus and each other is sacred, holy, and life-giving. Whether it’s a church fellowship hall or a swanky bar, what matters is that women are encouraged and empowered in their faith. What matters is they have a place to belong, a place to be refreshed. What matters is they understand the scriptures and walk out the truth hidden in them. What matters is that, together, they see how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

Building community, whether that’s a small group bible study or a group of friends, can be extremely difficult. How are you intentionally taking steps to build or strengthen your community today?

Tiffany Bluhm
Tiffany Bluhm

Tiffany is a wife, adoptive mama, bookworm, foodie and Jesus girl. She teaches women’s Bible study and speaks at Christian women’s events. She blogs at TiffanyBluhm.com, has been featured on Scary Mommy, My Crazy Adoption blog, Women In Ministry blog, and is a contributor to South Sound Magazine. Her outreach endeavors have been featured in World Vision Magazine and Pentecostal Evangel.

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