The Mailbag: How can we get women to WANT to come to Bible study?

Originally published March 19, 2018


My church is blessed to have two strong ladies’ Bible study leaders – one during the week for those who are available and one on Saturday for those who cannot attend during the week – who have the discernment to choose biblical content, study, and lead scripturally sound discussion. My prayer is that more women in my church would have the desire to attend these Bible studies, not only learning and growing spiritually but also for fellowship with each other and drawing closer to each other. If you have any ideas for actually getting women to want to study God’s word with other women I would love to hear them.

Been there, done that. I once taught a women’s Bible study class that consistently had only one to two women in it. I think our maximum attendance was one day when we had a whopping…four. The other women of the church chose to attend the “fluffier” classes that were being offered, and many just didn’t attend at all.

There could be any number of spiritual and practical reasons women aren’t attending your (or another reader’s) Bible studies.

☞ People are extraordinarily busy these days, especially women. Jam-packed schedules are probably the main reason for your low attendance. I’ll be honest, if I worked a full time job outside the home as well as taking care of my home and family, I’d be very unlikely to attend any Bible study class besides Sunday School. I’d want to devote that time to my family or to rest.

☞ Perhaps there are more false converts in your church than you’re aware of. People who aren’t saved are not new creatures in Christ and are devoid of the Holy Spirit, so they have no organic desire to spend time in God’s Word or with God’s people beyond the minimal amount required to fulfill whatever fleshly agenda brings them to church in the first place. There’s no human way to give them the desire to attend Bible study. Only God can accomplish that by saving them.

☞ If you go to a doctrinally sound church, your ladies may feel like they get plenty of good Bible study already and what they really want is unstructured fellowship time. See my article All Word and No Play: The Importance of Fun and Fellowship in the Doctrinally Sound Church.

☞ There may be something about the teaching style or the materials, that – even though they’re doctrinally sound – are rubbing people the wrong way. Maybe the teacher lectures and your ladies want more discussion. Maybe she talks over their heads in a very academic style. Maybe the materials are too expensive or there’s something about the book that is off-putting. Maybe your church only does “canned” (workbook, DVD, etc.) studies and what your ladies really want is to study books of the Bible, or vice versa.

☞ Hopefully this isn’t the case, but if there are factions in your church, someone could be surreptitiously – out of jealousy, sowing discord, or other reasons – discouraging the women from attending.

☞ The logistics of the class might be inconvenient for some. Do you offer child care for those who need it? Is the class held on a convenient day of the week and time of day? Is your church and the room you’re using for the class accessible to women with disabilities? 

These are just a few things that came to mind. Some of them may have to do with the class or the teacher. Others have more to do with the women themselves. What can you do to encourage more women to attend?

✔ Pray – and be ready to be in it for the long haul – that God will change hearts and give the women of your church a greater desire for His Word. In the end, God is the only One who knows all of the reasons women aren’t attending Bible study, and He is the only One with the power to transform them and overcome those reasons. Pray fervently and trust Him.

✔ If you’re truly stumped as to why women aren’t attending Bible study, ask them. You could do so face to face, individually, or, with your pastor’s permission, send out an anonymous survey (you’ll probably get a better response this way) asking things like, “Is the lecture style teaching we offer a fit for you?” or “Would you be able to attend if we offered child care?”, and also leave space to write in comments. (Naturally, you would not be asking things like whether or not you should water down the theology of the class, but if you can remove a practical barrier to attendance, why wouldn’t you?)

✔ Ask your pastor for advice. He knows the heartbeat of your congregation and will probably have some valuable counsel and suggestions.

✔ Be willing to try something different in the class. If you’ve only ever done workbook studies, do a study of a book of the Bible. Maybe a Saturday class isn’t convenient for a lot of people but a Sunday class would be. “I Shall Not be Moved” is for the theology of the class, not the logistics of it.

✔ Be willing to try something different than the class. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to do discipleship. Bible studies are awesome, but how about taking a semester off and doing some one on one Titus 2 mentoring instead? Or some unstructured “let’s just sit and chat” fellowships or ladies’ night outs? Or a prayer group? Or some outreach projects? If your ladies are already getting good preaching in the worship service and good teaching in Sunday School, it’s OK to try a discipleship method other than a Bible study class.

✔ Are you doing enough publicity well in advance of the class? You should start a minimum of 3-4 weeks before the class begins, and you should blitz with a variety of media: verbal announcements in multiple worship services, announce it in the church bulletin, newsletter, web site, and social media pages, have Sunday School classes announce it, send out a church-wide e-mail, put up fliers around the church, and encourage the ladies who are already attending the classes to personally, individually invite other women.

✔ If your pastor is OK with it, consider having one of the women who has been a faithful member of the class give a testimony (during the worship service, in the church newsletter, or wherever appropriate) about how the class has helped and blessed her, the relationships she has built through the class, etc.

In the end, the old saying is true: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” You may bend over backwards and pray your kneecaps off and you may still have a small attendance. That’s OK. That’s on God. All you are responsible for is to pray, trust and obey Him, and be faithful to Him where He has planted you. God doesn’t measure your success by how many women attend, but by your faithfulness to Him.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

9 thoughts on “The Mailbag: How can we get women to WANT to come to Bible study?”

  1. Thank you for this. The reason I stopped attending our Women’s Bible study is because we ALWAYS use a package (book + DVDs) from one of the darlings of Lifeway. You said it so well, Michelle, when you labeled it I-dolatry. In addition, when the new leader took over four years ago, she instructed strictly, “Arrive on time, get seated and no talking.” Literally, the doors are locked at the time class begins. I love the people of this church too much to leave them. We get sound doctrine from the pulpit and from one of the Bible teachers (small church – less than 200 members total.) Yet, the Pastor told me many years ago that “There’s nothing wrong with Beth Moore” when I expressed concern about her teaching. I thrive in the co-ed Bible classes. The teacher is a deacon and ordained minister. He only works from the Word. Once, when we were wrapping up a Bible book, he asked us for ideas about what to study next. I asked for a show of hands as to whether the group wanted to use a supplemental book or the Bible alone (since our teacher is astute.) The group chose the latter. Back to the Women’s group, it seems that the qualification to lead is only the ability to read…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks so much for “You Have What it Takes to Lead a BIBLE Study?” Michelle! After reading it, I am relieved to learn that it’s not only my perception that something was wrong with “If you can read, you can lead.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt a calling to lead a bible study at our church. I used to study with Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) which is a wonderful in-depth bible study but I had to drive 45 minutes one way to get there. I found some wonderful studies with Rose Publishing. It does include a dvd and study guide, but it is not fluff. I hosted the first study at my home and provided brunch for the 6 series study. About 10 women faithfully attended. The second study I was able to host at our church. I had about 7-8 who faithfully came. Some women showed up one or two times. We don’t have Sunday School at our church so I was hoping this would be a good fellowship opportunity. Frankly, I was feeling a little discouraged but after reading this I might be willing to give it another try and implent some of the hints you’ve suggested. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello OsagePrairie! Thank you for saying ” It does include a dvd and study guide, but it is not fluff.” You have reminded me to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. And please know that I am praying over you and your next class. We truly need teachers like you everywhere. I am one of the faithful who come to class regularly – and prepared. Even in the wonderful class I described above (approx 20 regular attendees on Sunday morning,) not one person ever did the homework but me. It saddened me! When our teacher would review the previous week’s homework questions, he’d ask for replies from “anyone but” me. Good thing I have a sense of humor!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love studying and reading the Bible but just reading can become monotonous. I’m a visual learner so I get the most from videos, demonstrations, illustrations and pictures. has been a God send. It has bible materials with all of the above including a study edition bible with videos that provide background information helpful to understanding many passages. It could be helpful in getting more people interested in the Bible.


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