Have you been asked to teach the Bible? Maybe you’d like to prepare something for your Sunday school class, small group, or youth group. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task, you’ve come to the right place.
Two Elements of Preparation
There are two elements to any good communication of the Bible: getting it right, and getting it across.
First, study the Bible and understand what it says and what that means. Then, determine the best way to help your people understand the passage. All of the advice that follows falls into one of these two categories.
A Preparation Guide
Here are eleven steps toward preparing a lesson on the Bible.
- Pray — You can’t do anything apart from God. Pray for your own study and pray for God’s work through you in the class.
- Read the Bible passage as many times as you can. Depending on the length, aim for at least ten.
- Study the passage. At this blog we teach the Observation, Interpretation, Application (OIA) Bible study method. Your goal should be to find the main point (or sometimes, main points) of the passage. Expect to spend several hours on this part of the process. (You may find these worksheets helpful.)
- Try not to use commentaries or notes in your study Bible until after you’ve studied the passage on your own.
- Think through this question: how does this passage (and especially its main point) connect to Jesus and the gospel?
- Prayerfully apply the passage (especially the main point) to yourself. Application can happen in the realms of head, heart, and hands. The more God works on you personally through this passage, the greater impact your teaching will have.
- Produce an outline of the passage. This needn’t be too detailed, but try to describe how the sections of your passage fit together.
- Your first goal in teaching is to lead the class to the main point of the passage. Think about how you arrived at the main point. What supporting truths helped you get there?
- To help the class grasp these supporting truths, determine what questions (both observation and interpretation) you will ask to lead the discussion. (The size of your group will determine how much interaction you can have, but you should push for as much as possible.) Because it is easy to forget your questions in the moment, write them down ahead of time. This is one of the hardest and most important parts of teaching—asking good questions.
- Think about application for the class. What questions will help the class consider personal application? Are there corporate applications the class should consider? What are some barriers to these personal or corporate applications?
- Finally, consider how you will begin the class. To get the class primed for the lesson, you might target an application or a theme or even something related to the main point. Will you start the class with a launching question? Will you start the class some other way?
If you’d like a resource to use when planning to teach the Bible, check out this worksheet. Please use it if you find it helpful.
Here’s one last piece of advice. Talk about your lesson both before and after the class.
I’ve insisted on these conversations as I train adult Sunday school teachers in my local church. These meetings have made a huge difference, both in the quality of the class and the development of the teachers.
Find a friend and chat a few days before the class. Talk about the main point and what questions you plan to ask. Give your friend permission to ask questions and tell you if your setup makes sense.
Ask your friend to sit in on the class and then pass along feedback afterward. Make sure your relationship (and their personality) allows for honesty in this conversation. Helpful feedback will involve both the good and the bad from your lesson.
What An Opportunity!
Teaching the Bible is a serious task and privilege. Don’t try to be fancy. Explain your thinking, ask good questions, and help your people see that studying the Bible is something anyone can do.