This is article eight of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.
Principle Five: Preparation
I’ve discovered that most learners are not quite ready to examine the scripture passage even after a motivational activity and the unit/session introduction. They need some background information to prepare them for examining the scripture with depth.
Most curriculum is divided into 3-4 bold-print headings with commentary for each based on a portion of the focal passage. Usually, the first section is background information that sets the stage for the Bible study and the biblical truth. I use this Bible background information to prepare learners to examine the focal passage with depth.
Here are three ways I have done this:
- Using the information in the first section of the session found in the Leaders’ Guide commentary, I prepare an illustrated mini-lecture (5 minutes). I read through the information and underline key words. Then I write key words from the Bible background information on paper strips. I put tape circles on wall ahead of time. As lecture is given, I put the key word strips on tape circles on the wall one at a time. The strips are the leader’s notes for the lecture and a visual hook for the learners. Remember: Support all verbal methods with a visual method. The computer has made this very simple, now. Simply type the words out using a large font, leaving a space between each key word, then cut into strips.
- I often use monologues or skits to set the stage for the Bible study. Enlist learners ahead of time.
- I involve learners in listening teams to listen for and to tell back facts that lead into the Bible study. These teams sometimes become “buzz groups” to discuss what they heard.
When learners are motivated and then prepared with background information, they are ready to examine the biblical passage with depth.
Time Out – Prayer Requests: After I have set the stage for Bible study, I take a brief Time-Out for prayer requests. I create a visual or use the white board to record prayer requests in three parts:
- Members – personal prayer needs
- Ministries – Prayer needs of the church (most pressing announcements)
- Missional – Evangelistic Prayers-first names of lost people
Transition: The Time-Out for announcements and prayer requests takes learners mind off of the biblical truth. Leaders will need to re-focus the learners on the Bible truth. I prepare a brief activity to re-motivate learners into the study following the prayer requests time. My favorite is an “Agree/Disagree Game.” I get learners to stand and move to the center of the room. I have placed placards with “AGREE” and “DISAGREE” on opposite walls. I have prepared some agree/disagree statements, usually with some humorous touches and I read these to the group. They move from one side of the room to the other as they agree/disagree with the statement. For example:
- John’s message was “Repent of sins in preparation for the Messiah’s appearance”.
- At Jesus’ baptism, a sea gull interrupted the service and had to be shoo…ed away.
Which one would you agree/disagree with? I do not comment on any of their answers until the very last one, and then I use it as a Segway into the examination of the Bible passage. This transition gets the learners up and moving and re-engaged and re-focused on the biblical truth.
Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.