Here are 5 practices for preparing effective Bible studies, and here is a sample of the notes I develop when I lead a study. So much for the ideology and the fruit of my preparation, but what do I physically do? How do I employ this ideology to develop a discussion plan that will hit the target?
Depend on the Lord
- Pray often throughout the preparation process.
Figure out what God has said
- Read the passage. I use my quiet times to study books of the Bible I’m teaching. I’ll read the passage as many times as I can, at least once a day for a few days before a study takes place.
- Underline or circle repeated words. I always begin with this practice. It’s so easy, and it makes important ideas pop out. I have a copy of the Bible dedicated to underlining and writing in the margins.
- Comparison and contrast, characters, and connectors. I round out my initial study with the rest of these 4 key observation skills.
- Ask and answer interpretive questions and determine the author’s main point.
- Connect the main point to Jesus.
Allow the message to change me
- Apply the passage to my life and my world. I’m not ready to teach the passage until after I’ve seen how I should change.
Decide how to lead the group toward what God has said
- Craft the main point into a single sentence. From this step on, I’m creating my leaders page for the discussion.
- Outline the passage. I want to identify the main point of each paragraph or stanza in a single sentence.
- Consider my group members and develop 3-5 observation and interpretation questions to stimulate discussion.
- Develop application questions for the individuals, the group, and our church. I’ve found it helpful to consider both what we should do/think/desire and why we don’t normally do/think/desire it.
- Consider what worldly ideas or practices might obstruct application.
Consider the beginning
- Craft a good launching question or story that will promote discussion and investigation. Often, I use the launching question to help people apply the main point of the passage (even before we’ve clarified what that main point might be).
Of course, your preparation doesn’t have to look exactly like mine. What have you found helpful in your preparation to lead Bible discussions?