Advice on leading a small group Bible study

teachingIn the past 6 months I have had the privilege of joining some Bible studies and being a student myself. I enjoy sitting under other people’s teaching and learning insights from the Word of God. I must confess, I have a great mentor and have been surrounded by great teachers of the Word for the past 4 years while living in Moldova, serving as a missionary. I was blessed to be taught how to study the Bible and teach the Bible in a relevant and easy to understand way using the Inductive Bible study method. While sitting in these classes over the past 6 months I have been taking notes on the contrasts that I have seen between the two teaching styles. I am a fan of efficiency. We can serve in two ways, efficiently or inefficiently. Many people have a desire to serve and spend a lot of time serving. I appreciate the fact that they serve but if one serves inefficiently then many times, he can do more damage than good. With this article I would like to contrast the two styles that I have seen and see why one is more efficient.

I. Do not lecture but instead, lead the group.

Many times the leader or teacher of the study becomes a lecturer while the students sit and try to listen and pay attention. I was once in college and I know how inefficient lectures are. There are few people who can pay attention to a lecture more than 10 minutes long, I am one who cannot. Instead of lecturing, lead the group along through questions and answers. We, as people, like questions and answers and usually we learn the best through this form of studying. Also, we pay more attention for a longer period of time.

II. Do not ask questions like “what do you think it says or means” but instead ask questions that require answers from the text.

Many times leaders make a grave mistake by asking these types of questions. This is dangerous because people spend more time talking about what they think, feel, or have been taught instead of what is written in the Word of God. So Bible study time moves from Bible study to a debate or argument about what other people think the Bible says. The Apostle Paul was a master at asking questions to draw out answers from the Word when leading a group of people in Bible study. We see this in Romans and Acts as he travels and teaches and then writes a specific letter to the Romans, doing Bible study with them without actually being there.

III. Use a visual chart and have the students take notes.

Students usually feel like they will remember the truths from the study just by being present and listening but from experience I have seen that this in not the case. If we do not write things down then we will not remember them. That is why it is very important to have some kind of written visual aid for the students to follow along with you. As they take notes they will remember the lesson better and also they will have something to remind them later. Also, by having a written form of visual aide you will be able to stay on track and cover what you had planned on teaching. This will also help you to be organized and keep the students organized as well as they follow along with you.

IV. Have a specific challenge in mind to leave the students with.

Often times students are encouraged to continue studying the subject by themselves to go more in depth. That is not bad and should be encouraged but there are two problems with that response only. First of all, most students will not go on to study the subject more in depth and will be left with a feeling of not really understanding the subject that was studied. Secondly if a main truth or idea is not drawn then the information the may have discussed or learned many bits and pieces of information but they do not have a clear, focused understanding of the subject. If a person is not clear in his understanding then he will not be challenged to apply what he has learned, in other words, he will not take action. Give your students a specific task that will help them apply the main truth learned and then they will leave with a sense of understanding, leading to action, and a sense of accomplishment.

I want to thank my dear teacher, Vasile Filat, for teaching me and leading through his example. It is great to have a mentor/leader who models all of his teachings for you leading you step by step in applying the truths that he teaches you. I hope that you have such a mentor in your life and I also hope that this article helps you in leading people into the Truth of God’s Word so that we can have an impact in the lives of others and eventually in the entire world. God bless.

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