Do you receive published curriculum from your church, but typically revise the lessons in view of the characteristics of your particular group of learners?
Do you strive for an interactive session that involves learners, rather than merely lecturing to them?
If you answer “Yes” to any of those questions, review the following guidelines for choosing learning activities. These key words and accompanying questions will spark your thinking and help you make wise methods choices.
What teaching approaches will clearly and accurately convey the truths in my Bible passage? Is it realistic for my learners to discover these truths under my guidance? Should I lecture briefly on context and background to set the stage for intelligent discussion? Is the material so complex or controversial that this lesson requires more lecture than normal?
Remember: when it comes to Bible study, methods always serve the message.
How does the physical environment of the meeting place affect my choice of learning activities? Would another group nearby be adversely affected if I employed a noisy mixer or role play? What techniques does the physical setting or lack of equipment eliminate? What procedures, such as dividing into buzz groups, does the space or layout prevent?
What methods are realistic for the time frame I have? Should I substitute one approach to discussion for another that would conserve a few precious minutes? In case an on-target discussion of an early question takes longer than expected, have I predetermined which point or questions I’ll leave out of the lesson in the event of a time squeeze?
What approaches to this lesson will help create a warm, hospitable learning atmosphere? Which means of research into the biblical text will facilitate cooperative learning and help build relationships among participants?
Which Bible learning activities will best meet the stated objectives for the lesson? (Your primary objectives are what I call “teaching points,” or the timeless principles you want them to grasp.) How can I structure the lesson to accelerate understanding of Bible truths? To enhance focus on life application?
Do my coverage of content and use of questions balance the three phases of Bible study: observation, interpretation, and application?
How can I propel learners into the Bible text so they can discover truth for themselves? How can my questions best help them find the most important facts and truths? Do any of my questions encourage speculation rather than investigation and analysis of Bible content?
How can I make sure they look into the text for answers, rather than focusing on preconceived notions or subjective opinion?
In light of the number of people in my group, what teaching techniques are most appropriate? How should their ages and level of spiritual maturity influence my choice of methods? What teaching style did previous leaders of this group employ? How will the way the group was taught previously affect learners’ receptivity to my teaching strategies?
The first letters of the seven key words spell out METHODS. Using these guidelines can help you select appropriate methods for leading any group or class.
As you strive for variety, remember Howard Hendrick’s “selectivity principle”: The more predictable one’s teaching methodology, the lower the impact on students. The less predictable one’s choice of activities, the greater the impact.
What guideline for methods’ selection you would add?
Which of these guidelines is most helpful to you now as a group leader?
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