My daughter, Lilly, has always wished she had a sister. And I have always wished a sister for her. But for whatever reason, that wasn't the plan God has had for her. So I told her early and often that just because she didn't have a sister by blood didn't mean she couldn't have sisters still. I told her there'd be girls in her life whom she'd love like sisters. I told her God would give her sister friends to fill that empty spot in her heart.
And then I purposed to find a way to help her build those relationships. Because we all know that relationships don't just happen. They take intentionality and effort. They take time and thought. Relationships take work.
For years now it's been my plan to have a Bible study for Lilly and her girl friends. I'm a dreamer, so I imagined it would be a group of friends who she’d grow up with, from the pre-teen years all the way through the teen or college years. I dreamt of deep relationships, deep talks, and deep laughs. I dreamt of sharing prayer requests and ice cream sundaes. I dreamt of service projects, tea parties, and girls camping trips. I knew this could be the place where Lilly found the sisters she’s dreamt of.
As Lilly and her girl friends approached the preteen years, it felt like the right time to start this long awaited Bible study. And in the few short months we’ve been meeting, I’ve already seen many of the dreams I had for the group coming true. We’ve gathered. We’ve talked. We’ve laughed. We’ve served. We’ve eaten, sang, prayed, and danced.
It is always such a sweet time.
Leading a Bible study like this isn’t new to me. I spent all of my teen years and early 20s leading Bible studies just like this one. With groups of girls sitting on my bed or living room floor, braiding hair and talking about our relationship with Jesus. I loved it so much. I took a break when my kids were all small. I'm so very glad to be doing this again. Spending time with kids, be they little ones or growing up ones, are just my favorite.
Leading this girls Bible study also reminds me of how much God cares about me. And Lilly. I’m reminded that He knows all our heart's longings and that they matter to Him.
I am reminded that God is for us.
And now, since I've gotten lots of questions about how I run this girls Bible study, I am going to do my best to answer those questions. It is my sincere hope that you will find inspiration here to create your own girls Bible study. There is something wonderful about making a space where girls can cultivate deep, meaningful relationships with each other and with a caring adult, all centered around the word of God!
To get you started, here are the details on how I set the study up and how we spend our time together.
1. Ages of girls in the study: the girls in the group are ages 9-12. It was important to me to begin this group before the girls were all teens. It's my hope that by establishing relationships before they're teens we can avoid some of the self consciousness and awkward feelings that sometimes come with teenhood. So that when they are all teens, we have grown comfortable with one another and our group feels like a safe and warm place to be.
I also wanted the girls to be old enough to actually study the word of God. That’s why I didn’t start at age 5 or 6. I wanted them to have a bit more of an attention span, and the ability to tackle some tougher ideas.
So far it's been a dream. They are delightfully fun and innocent and silly and sweet. But also interested in discussing the Bible and their faith.
The mixed ages is also proving to be a blessing as the older girls are leaders for the younger ones.
2. How often we meet: we meet once a month on a Sunday afternoon. We're together about 2 hours. I'm sure it could be much longer! They always want more playtime after bible study time is done. I’d also love to meet more than once a month. But at this time, that is all we can commit to. And I am happy to have it!
3. Where we meet: for convenience sake we meet at my house each time. It makes it one less thing to remember for the mamas. And brings a feeling of continuity for the girls.
Is this a sacrifice for me and my family? Yes, it is.
I like to have the house tidy (not clean but at least tidy) and snacks for the girls. My husband and boys need to be out of the way because I don’t want the distraction of the boys around the house. So Aaron often takes the boys out somewhere while the girls and I have our study. He doesn’t mind a bit because we’re both committed to creating this for our daughter and her friends. It helps to have his support. And clearly, it is worth these small sacrifices to have this group form.
4. What we study: right now we are doing topical studies anchored in a lot of scripture. I asked the girls for topic ideas and from that list I’m trying to choose the topics that are applicable to their lives. As well as the ones that they can apply to their lives, putting their faith into action.
I write my own studies. They are fairly short, and I reference scripture, Bible stories, real life examples from my own life and theirs, as well as other books I know they've read. For example, one week in our study we talked about Little Women. Another week we talked about Laura Ingalls in the Little House books. I often reference their own experiences with siblings or their parents. I try to make it personal and relatable to them.
Some of the topics we have covered so far are:
What a Christian Life Looks Like
The Power of Kind Words
What to do When We’re Worried
I do not have these studies available for you anywhere. Sorry! But after getting so many requests, maybe I need to think about it.
5. What else we do: we eat! I wanted the girls to feel like their time was modeled after the time they see their mamas spend together. And we mama always share good food. So I have snacks for the girls. Sometimes they bring snacks to share too.
We also share prayer requests and we sing. I want to sing more--need to brush off my guitar.
6. Incorporating Service Projects: its important to me that our Bible study group builds relationship with one another in lots of different ways. I also want the girls to put their faith in action. So I envisioned service projects being a part of our time together. Thus far, we’ve only participated in two service projects, but since we’ve only met together 5 times, I think that’s a good start.
The week we studied the power of kind words, we wrote notes of encouragement to a friend in need. Thus, putting the lesson we'd just studied into practice. I loved showing them that the simple act of sharing an encouraging word can make a powerful impact on a heart.
This past week we worked together to pack shoe boxes with simple gifts to send to children in need as part of Operation Christmas Child. It was powerful to pack and wrap the boxes, imagining the girl who would open them. We prayed together over each box, and the girl who would receive it. I shared with the girls that when they were 13 we could all work in the processing center for Operation Christmas Child, taking on a bigger role of service.
I’m not sure yet what our next service project will be. But I love thinking about the years ahead and all the ways these girls can serve God by serving others.
7. What I hope for the future: not surprisingly, I have big dreams. I imagine us meeting for years to come. For the girls to grow up together, entering womanhood as a band of sisters. My vision for our group is not a Bible study only, but a group of girls who are richly involved in each other's lives spiritually, emotionally, and through time spent together doing a variety of activities. I dream of friendships rooted in relationship with God.
Like I said, I hope this both inspires and equips you to create a Bible study group for the girls in your life.
Here are a few Bible verses that further remind me why I am doing this:
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16