A Teaching Strategy that Works: Three Keys to a Life-Shaping Bible Lesson

By Katy Kauffman

My first strategy for teaching the Bible failed. I was anxious to give the tenth grade girls I taught all of the delightful things I had discovered about our Bible passage. I lost their attention quickly. The next week I picked a more effective strategy: I gave them a what and a why. The what: Follow Jesus. The why: 12 reasons to follow Jesus from Mark Chapter 1. It worked.

If you’re looking for an effective strategy to teach God’s Word, I’d like to suggest three keys. You can apply them to just about any passage of Scripture and give your listeners a great takeaway from the lesson. When you teach, give your group three things about your Bible passage: what, why, and how. What is Scripture telling us to do or know about the Christian life? Why is this important to live out and remember? And how do we practically apply this to our everyday lives?

I have heard plenty of Bible lessons that overly emphasized the what without giving much why, and the effect was little incentive to do it. Or there was some why without much how, leaving the hearer directionless. A balance of what, why, and how gives adequate attention to the meaning of Scripture, the motivation to live it out, and the empowerment to do it.

The What

Start with the what. What is Scripture telling us to do, or what does God want us to know? Is Scripture giving us a direct command like “do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:14, NKJV)? Or is it showing us what to do through the example of someone’s life, like David in Psalm 51 confessing his sin to God? From Genesis to Revelation, God has given us His Word to show us how to walk with Him in daily life (Psalm 119:105, Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible is our how-to textbook for life. There are always new things to discover and practice, new treasures that cause us to appreciate God and live for Him. As you read and explain your Bible passage, show them the what.

The Why

But don’t stop with the what. Give them the why. My mom was faithful to tell me why as I grew up—why God’s way was best and poor choices would hurt me. I needed the why. Our Bible study groups do too. They need to know why God has said we should forgive instead of hold a grudge—it eats us up on the inside! They need to know why God tells us to love one another—love reflects His own character and builds others up instead of tearing them down. The why is motivation for the what. Sometimes it will take us some time to figure out the why, but it’s worth it.

The How

The how is empowerment to do the what and cherish the why. Let your group discuss how to live out what God’s Word is teaching. Write their ideas on the board if you have one, and let them brainstorm how they can live out God’s instruction in everyday life. As they hear from each other, they can build a sense of comradery and practically know how to apply the Bible to their lives.

Giving someone a gorgeous plate of cheesecake dripping with strawberry sauce without a fork, is frustrating. How are they supposed to eat it and not get messy? (Like we would really care about getting messy if it’s cheesecake!) They need a fork to eat cheesecake. Giving a group the how with the what provides a fork to appropriate the truth and live it out. Don’t forget the how. (I really need some cheesecake now. And a fork.)

Try it

For your next Bible lesson, try using this strategy. This coming Thursday, I will post a test case implementing what, why, and how. When we teach a group or encourage someone, we want to use the tools that will impact them the most. What is Scripture saying, why should we take it to heart, and how do we live it out?

Discussion Points:

  1. Has knowing why something was right or wrong ever helped you to make a good choice?
  2. Has knowing how to do something good ever encouraged you to try it?
  3. How often do you hear lessons and sermons give the why and how?



© Copyright 2014 by Katy Kauffman


teaching small group Bible studies, women’s Bible studies, Bible teaching, lesson plans, how to teach the Bible, A Teaching Strategy that Works: Three Keys to a Life-Shaping Bible Lesson, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

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Winning the Victory: A Blog by Katy Kauffman

Award-Winning Author, Editor, Bible Teacher

As co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies, Katy is a Bible study author and editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine. Follow Katy's blog to receive posts sharing practical strategies for winning life's spiritual battles. 


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