The Big Picture
God’s word is alive and it should be embodied in our lives.
What Do I Need to Know about This Study?
There is a certain “genius” to being a woman. And today’s world is in need of that genius. More than ever, it seems, our culture needs the witness of authentic femininity. Being a woman is an incredible gift and opportunity. God has made us good, and he wants us to share our gift.
Pope St. John Paul II spent considerable time exploring this genius. As a pastor, who no doubt spent many hours counseling women and hearing their stories in the confessional, he had a particular insight into the female heart. From his experience and reflection on the Scriptures, Pope St. John Paul II wrote a letter specifically about women: Mulieris Dignitatem, on the dignity and the vocation of women. In it, he noted the particular genius of femininity, God’s beautiful design for women, and their essential contribution to the world.
However, even with this great calling, we know, perhaps all too well, that there is much debate and even confusion in our culture over our role. Are we the same as men? Is our role somehow inferior? What is our place in the Church, the family, and society? These questions have been vigorously debated, and differing trends have emerged, not all of them good.
Additionally, many women have experienced the heartache and struggle of not being affirmed in their dignity as women. God designed us for a unique and beautiful life, and yet too often this has been trampled upon or confused with competing visions of how femininity should be expressed.
Our hope is that this Bible study will allow us to rediscover the greatness to which we are called and encourage us to embrace it. Using the writings of Pope St. John Paul II, the Scriptures, and various other female writers, this study explores God’s original plan for us, how that plan has been derailed, but also how it has been restored in Jesus Christ. It then explores our unique dignity, our receptivity and capacity for others, and our indispensable role in society. The study also addresses some of the challenges involved in living out this call and offers some practical direction for living out this vocation.
As you study the “Feminine Genius,” we encourage you to think deeply about your privileged dignity as a woman, discuss the difficulties involved in living as a woman today, and, finally, allow Jesus and His Blessed Mother to guide you into faithfully living your amazing role in God’s plan for salvation.
How FOCUS Equip Studies Work
Each FOCUS Equip study highlights one particular passage of Scripture. As the leader, you guide a discussion about the passage, which allows participants to discover truths within the passage for themselves. This process is called self-discovered learning. Its format can help participants learn about Scripture and the way to discover Scripture on their own.
At the same time, you are not left alone to understand the Scriptures by yourself. Each chapter will contain a section titled “What Do I Need to Know about This Passage?” It will provide you with details about the passage, along with summaries about the passage’s big picture, how it applies to Jesus, and how it can apply to your group.
The discussion guide supplies you with an opening question, some background information to share about the passage, and a set of example questions and answers on each passage to use with your group.
Prepare by studying “What Do I Need to Know about This Passage?” before the Bible study, and then use the discussion guide to direct the conversation with your group.
How to Prepare Your Study
With all of this information at your disposal, you are all set and ready to go. You just need to pass out the notes, ask each question as it is written, and read the answers to the questions, right? Well, not exactly. It would not make for a very engaging Bible study. This material is a Bible study in a can: It is meant to preserve good-quality Biblical content and allow for a broad distribution, but someone still needs to take the material out of the can, spice up the content, and serve it to your study. That person is you.
This is where the audience for your study is crucial; these are the people for whom you are “cooking.” Whether you have a group that has never heard the Gospel before or a group that attempts to live out the Gospel each day, you can adapt the Bible study to the group. The flexibility of this format is what can make it so effective.
Most likely, however, you will have a group with both kinds of people. Try to create a Bible study where beginners can learn the basics while the experts can be rejuvenated. Scripture is a great way to do this. St. Gregory the Great once said, “Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade.” Both groups should be able to discover something meaningful in the Scripture passage.
For more on How to Lead a Bible study, check out our resource on FOCUSEquip.org. As a review, FOCUS Bible study leaders have 3 roles and 3 goals in each study.
Your 3 Key Roles
With all of the above information in mind, remember that you have 3 key roles in this study. These 3 roles are your contribution to the study, and doing these 3 things well will make the study successful.
1. Prayer: Ultimately, it will be God Who changes the lives of the participants. By personal prayer and praying for your participants, you open the door for God to accomplish great things. Please take time to pray for your group, talking with God about each participant.
2. Hospitality: Effectively welcoming participants, getting to know them, meeting them outside of Bible study, and becoming real friends will be a great asset to the study. Create an environment that is open and personal, allowing participants to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and experiences.
3. Facilitator: A good discussion really enhances the fruitfulness of a Bible study. Take the time to review the study and ask good, relevant questions to your group. Guide the discussion, allowing everyone to participate. Bring the discussion back if it gets too far astray.
Your 3 Key Goals
There will, no doubt, be many questions and discussions that come up throughout the study. You may even find yourself a bit lost here or there. However, the goals listed below are what you are ultimately trying to accomplish. Keeping these in mind throughout the study will help you stay on course.
1. Deep Transformation: Through interaction with God’s word and one another, it is our hope that the lives of your Bible study members will be profoundly changed. The purpose of a Bible study is not to simply learn information or to be a part of a Bible study club, but allow the Lord to transform our lives. Specifically, we hope that students, through Scripture, are drawn more intimately to our Lord in the sacraments and liturgy of the Church where they can most fully receive the gift of God’s grace in their lives.
2. Intimate Fellowship: If people are going to be deeply transformed, they will need others along the way, not only to help this transformation, but also to make sure they continue this transformation in the future. Your goal as a leader is to take a group of people with various backgrounds and personalities and help them form authentic relationships with one another.
3. Spiritual Multiplication: Another important dynamic of small groups is their ability to be reproduced. As you lead, pray that the Lord will raise up members of your small group to go on to disciple others and to lead Bible studies of their own.
One of the best ways to learn how to lead a Bible Study is to learn from others. Consider observing someone else’s Bible study to learn how they have been successful. Also, ask a missionary or your discipler to come to your study and give you feedback on how you are doing.
To properly lead this study, you will need to prepare in advance and apply God’s word in your own life.