Whether you’re teaching teenagers, adults, women, or men, I know you want your Bible class to be as effective as it can possibly be. I know you want people to see the relevance of Scripture. I know you want people to learn and to grow. But sometimes, let’s face it, it’s hard to know how to do that. It’s hard to know how to teach an effective Bible class. So I want to share with you a few things I’ve found helpful when teaching Bible classes. I hope you find these helpful as well.
Don’t underestimate the role prayer plays in teaching an effective Bible class. This is God’s word you’re teaching and God’s people to whom you’re teaching it. Ask God for His help.
You could pray for your class what Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 3:16-19; 1:18-19). It could sound something like this:
Father, as we go through this lesson, I ask that according to the riches of your glory you may grant that we may be strengthened with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith—that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all your fullness. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope to which you have called us, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe. In Jesus’ name amen.
Pray when you’re preparing your lesson. Pray when you’ve finished preparing. Pray at the beginning of your class. Pray at the end of your class. The more you invoke God in prayer, the more effective your class will be.
2. Know the text.
You don’t have to know everything there is to know about Scripture when you teach a Bible class, but you do have to know the text you are teaching. Read through it (and the book in which it is found) as many times as possible. Read it in multiple translations. Read various commentaries on the text. When you go into class, try your very best to know that piece of Scripture forwards and backwards.
But don’t just know it in your head, know it deep down in your heart. Be in love with it. Feel about your text the way the Psalmist felt, “Your testimonies are my delight” (Psalm 119:24).
Until you know and love the text, you’re not ready to teach it, because the worst thing you could do is teach something that isn’t true and the second worse thing would be to give people the impression that Scripture is boring.
3. Have a point.
When I teach a class or preach a sermon, I try to write down on a piece of paper, “What does God want us to know?” There may be several lessons a person could learn from the material you’re coving, and you may touch on those things, but what is the big idea with which people need to leave?
If you don’t know the point of your class session, and you don’t make that point, then people will likely begin to ask, “What’s the point in coming?”
4. Outline what you’re going to say.
Your class should flow from a beginning to an end. Don’t just stand up there and ramble for 45 minutes. Map out the journey and then take the people on that journey. Here is a simple way to outline nearly any class:
- Introduction: Why should people care about this lesson?
- Observation: What does the Bible say?
- Interpretation: What does it mean?
- Application: How does it apply to our lives today?
You don’t have to be rigid about your outline (classes can be somewhat flexible), but if you don’t know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, then you probably won’t get anywhere.
5. Ask good discussion questions.
If you’re going to ask discussion questions in your class, then make sure the questions you are asking lend themselves to healthy and productive discussion. Avoid asking questions that only have one right answer.
When you’re asking discussion questions, you are trying to get people to think, and to share their thoughts with each other, so ask them questions that reflect that:
- What do you think was the cause of that?
- What are some of the words that stand out to you in this text?
- How do you think the original audience felt when they heard this?
- How do you think we can apply this?
When people respond to the discussion questions, try to give them some affirmation, even if their answer was not entirely accurate. Don’t embarrass them or belittle them in front of the class. If you do, you will stifle further discussion. Try to say things like, “I appreciate you sharing that.” Or, “That’s an interesting thought; let’s explore that for a second.” Or, “Hmm, I’ve never really thought about it like that before.”
Good discussion can make or break a class. Make sure you prepare to discuss well.
6. Teach a Christ-centered lesson.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your lesson should be Christ-centered. No matter what text or topic you’re teaching, everything should come back to “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). If our classes are only telling people to try harder, then we will weary them. But if our classes are telling people to trust more in Jesus, then we will empower and embolden them.
If you’re teaching from the Old Testament, show people how the text is pointing forward to Jesus in a foreshadowing way. If you’re teaching from the New Testament, show people how the text is point back to the cross and forward to His return. I firmly believe what Timothy Keller said, “From the main point of every text, there is some way to preach Christ with integrity.”
If we are going to teach Scripture as Christians, then everything we say must be dripping with Good News! The King has come, He died for us, He rose from the dead, and He will return! Praise God! We have nothing to fear if we walk with Him!
I love you and God loves you,