Too often groups want to skip this step. We want to move on to the good stuff–discussion about the nuances of what the text means and how it relates to this theology and that and how it is supported by this cross reference and that and (occasionally) how it can be applied to our lives this way and that. All that is good and we will get to that. But first, we have to know what the Bible says before we can understand what it means.
I remember my first pass at trying to understand the book of Revelation. (I have had several and still don’t understand it. John Calvin wrote a commentary on every book of the New Testament and many of the books of the Old Testament but did not write one on Revelation. He was asked why he did not write one on Revelation. “I don’t understand it” was his simple reply.) Anyway, my first pass was during college and I began reading commentaries and such on Revelation. My dad offered some advice: just read the book. Read it several times, beginning to end. Get to know the book itself. You have to know what the Bible says before you can understand what it means.
Excerpt from Good Questions Have Small Groups Talking: the book.