through His Word
By Katy Kauffman
I love autumn everything. The pumpkin spice donuts and lattes, the color of the leaves as they change, and the boots. Fall has a style all its own. September has been all about Bible studies on my blog, and on this second day of fall, I’d like to share some tips for enhancing the style of your Bible study teaching and writing. Maybe you’ve got a style that works and fits your group perfectly. Please leave a comment of things that have worked for you! I’d like to give some tips that I’ve seen work in Bible study groups and have made the style of teaching engaging and uplifting.
4 tips for writing and teaching Bible Studies that impact the heart and mind:
1. Grab the group members’ attention from the beginning.
When I first started teaching the Bible, the beginning of my lesson started with something like: Turn to Ephesians 1, and will someone read verses 1-3 for us? I had no slant, no angle from which to approach Scripture. When I started writing devotions for my first book, all that changed. I learned to start with something that grabbed the reader’s attention.
That works for a Bible lesson as well. If a teacher started with, Open to Matthew 5, and let’s look at the Sermon on the Mount, we would obediently follow. But if she used the illustration of the house built on the rock from Matthew 7, consider how this sounds: Today I want us to look at the Sermon on the Mount and see truths that will build our lives on solid rock, so that when the storms of life come, we can stand strong. How much more enriching and attention-grabbing is that?
Sometimes we want to save all the good stuff for the end of our class or chapter. But if we front-load our lesson with why they need to listen, we can keep our class or readers with us. They will be anticipating the hope, help, or refreshment we promise to deliver. So when you teach or write, get their attention from the beginning. Be aware of people’s everyday needs and struggles, and start your lesson or chapter with something that will engage their minds and stir their hearts.
2. Explain Scripture in a memorable way.
A good Bible study uses all kinds of illustrations and examples to bring out the treasures of Scripture. Personal stories that emphasize a need or solution and group activities that get people participating help a group to remember what’s being taught. I won’t forget the illustration I saw at a Christian camp when the leader blindfolded one of the girls and had another volunteer to guide her through some obstacles, using only his voice to do it. The rest of us were told to shout to keep her from hearing him. That illustration taught me about listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice and not letting the world hinder me from hearing Him.
Definitions and commentary notes can fill in a missing piece of the puzzle and etch an understanding of Scripture on a person’s memory. Acrostics do the same thing. Dr. Charles Stanley once taught that remembering HALT could guard us from giving into temptation. He said, “Don’t ever let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.” All kinds of creative and insightful tools are at our disposal to teach the Bible, and a Bible study that touches the soul and transforms the heart uses them well.
3. Set aside enough time for group discussion.
Joy and strength come from hearing each other talk about God and His Word. I’ve heard from women in Bible classes that they want enough time to discuss Scripture, and sometimes their DVDs eat into their discussion time. Just a few years ago, more Bible study publishers were opting for studies without DVDs because people wanted to hear from each other and discuss the lesson.
As a leader or writer, select some questions you definitely want to cover in your group time, and use questions that require more than a yes/no answer. We’re encouraged when we hear how God has worked in other people’s lives and what He has taught them about Scripture, so steer away from How does this make you feel? questions and get them talking about God’s Word and work.
4. Save time by using a leader guide.
A leader guide can save a lot of time and frustration. So if you’re a writer, help a girl out! Put a leader guide in the back of your book that maps out what questions to discuss and highlights the most important points. A leader guide gives a sense of You can do it! to new leaders, and provides a sense of direction and completion for each lesson. If you’re a leader, save time preparing by seeing what the author has suggested for each lesson, and add your own notes as desired.
What do you think enhances a Bible study’s style and impact? Share your ideas in the comments section below, and as you write or teach, remember to warm the heart and feed the soul. This coming Friday, I will compare the styles of some popular Bible teachers and add a few new ones in the mix.
© Copyright 2014 by Katy Kauffmanpersonal Bible study, how to select a Bible study for a small group, women’s ministry, ideas for women’s ministry leaders, quiet time, Enhancing Your Style: 4 Tips for Writing and Teaching Bible Studies, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies