Friday Hot Links – May 26, 2017

I hope you enjoy your Memorial weekend, and that you have time to reflect on the freedoms we have because of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served, and continue to serve, as members of our military. I’m grateful like I know you are, for their hard work and the sacrifices made by their families.

I’ve put together some links to posts from trusted sources around the Internet. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them over the holiday weekend. Thanks for following this blog, and please be safe as you travel the highways and byways of our country this Memorial Day weekend!

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy


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The one thing you must do if you use PowerPoint in your Bible study

From time to time I like to use PowerPoint in the classroom. I have asked conference attendees, “What is the worst teaching method you can use?” and I always hear, “It’s lecture.” But that’s not the right answer! The worst method you can use is the one you use all the time, so I don’t rely on PowerPoint all the time…just occasionally. When I use it, though, I always pay attention to the “1x6x6” Rule.

The 1x6x6 Rule simply says that you should create slides with one main point and no more than six lines or bullets, with no more than 6 words per line. That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Look at the example below…which line is easier to read and remember?

  1. Cross-cultural surveys indicate that 58% of people are unaware of the faith traditions of their neighbors, co-workers, and others.

    This is one of the best PowerPoint slides I’ve ever seen
  2. 58% not aware of faith traditions.

#2 above is a much better way to communicate your point, and in just 6 words. So clean up those PowerPoint slides and help your group members grasp the important points you want to make! Use the 1x6x6 Rule the next time you create a PowerPoint slide deck to help guide your Bible study. Remember, less really is more.


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3 reasons to organize your Bible study group

Who doesn’t love The Container Store? I could spend hours perusing the shelves because of all the neat gadgets they have to help organize your garage, kitchen, storage rooms, and more. My father used to say, “Everything should have a place, and everything should be in its place” (not that he followed his own mantra!). It’s a noble thought, a great idea, and something to strive for. Organization is especially important in your Bible study group. I’m speaking first-hand as a group leader myself. I’ve recently begun to organize my group and to give away certain leadership functions. The more organized we get, the better we’ll be able to accomplish our goals as a Bible study group. Here are three reasons you should consider organizing your Bible study group:

  1. It’s biblical. If you read Acts 6:1-7 and Exodus 18:13-26 (Moses and Jethro’s encounter), you’ll find two examples of groups that needed to get organized. In both instances, the work was divided among many people, and needs were met much more efficiently. Leaders in both stories were able to focus on their primary jobs.
  2. There is a transfer of ownership. As you recruit people into leadership roles, the work of the group is transferred from you, the group leader, to the people in the group. One group leader I used to know made sure each person in his group had a job to do – and he had a big group! He told me that unless people feel needed and important, they drift and fail to attend regularly. As a group leader myself, I’ve seen that in play in my own group. I’m giving away as many jobs as I can to the people in my group these days. If they do the work, it’s their group, not Ken’s group they simply attend. Do you think this might be why so many groups struggle to have regular attenders? Perhaps we haven’t organized our groups and given away the ministry to our people often enough.
  3. The needs of people will be met. In the Acts 6 and Exodus 18 stories, people’s needs were met. In Acts 6, widows began receiving a portion of the daily food allotment. In Exodus 18, Moses recruited leaders and appointed them over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and groups of ten. In the end, the people went away satisfied their legal cases had been heard, and a side benefit is that Moses’ longevity in his leadership role would occur because he had others helping him – he wouldn’t get worn out by trying to do all the work himself.

How might you organize your Bible study group to share ministry with you? Here are a few roles you might want to consider asking your people to fill:

  • Prayer leader
  • Fellowship/fun leader
  • Outreach leader
  • Apprentice teacher(s)
  • Ministry leader



Become a Master of Multi-sensory Experiences

Tuesday’s teaching tip is sensational – literally. It’s about using the senses to unlock a group member’s mind in order to serve that person and communicate biblical truth. “Each sense organ is a gateway to the mind of the pupil. The mind attends to that which makes a powerful appeal to the senses” (The Seven Laws of Teaching, pp.32-34). Our five senses are a gateway to our minds. If you want to get truth into a person’s mind, you must do it using one or more of the five senses.

In the book Talk Like Ted, nine “secrets” of effective communicators are discussed. One of them is the skill of using multi-sensory experiences to communicate more effectively. It’s a skill that all good communicators possess. If you’re going to be an effective Bible teacher, it’s one you’re going to have to master this well.

“The brain does not pay attention to boring things. It’s nearly impossible to be bored if you are exposed to mesmerizing images, captivating videos, intriguing props, beautiful words, and more than one voice bringing the story to life…the brain craves multi-sensory experiences. Your audience might not be able to explain why they love your presentation; it will be your little secret.” (Talk Like Ted, pp.204-205).

As you craft your Bible study, think about ways you can use people’s senses to communicate biblical truth. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What interesting objects can I use to illustrate a point?
  2. What smells might I introduce through the use of candles or other means?
  3. What visuals will I use?
  4. What sounds or music will I incorporate into the Bible study?
  5. Are there any foods or tastes that I can allow my group members to experience in order to help them understand a particular part of the study?

Do this regularly, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a master of multi-sensory experiences!


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Discover the power of stories in your group

Mondays on the blog are all about featuring a short excerpt from a book on group ministry, and today I’ve selected a book that I’ve never featured before.

Friend and colleague David Francis has written a series of books on group ministry, and his book The Discover Triad: Three Facets of a Dynamic Sunday School Class, has some excellent observations about the elements that help make a Sunday School class, small group, etc., more impactful for the group members. Here, in David’s own words, are his thoughts about the power of stories (one of the three facets of a dynamic group):

A Sunday School class can provide a safe place to share how Scripture is impacting our stories…”Learning occurs when we attach prior knowledge, wisdom, and experience to the information, knowledge, and material being presented at the current time. The process of connecting the two – prior experience and current information – brings about behavioral life change.” The purpose of Bible study is more than learning its content. The Bible is God’s “owner’s manual” for human life. He does not want just want us to know it; He wants us to live it. An effective way to begin a Bible study session is sharing a story that connects a life issue with the passage the group is about to encounter. A current news story works great if it fits. A third person story found on the Internet can be effective. Even a personal story told by the teacher  might be appropriate…Perhaps the best story is one told by a class member…”

As a group leader, learn to allow your people to talk and discuss their life experiences and how those intersect with the truth of Scripture that you are studying. Group leaders who are serious about allowing stories to be shared create a dynamic group experience. Those group leaders look for stories throughout the week and encourage group members to become vulnerable and share their own stories. Group members are also encouraged to share stories when they hear their group leader regularly sharing his or her stories and how those relate to the topic being studied.

Give this a try the next time you teach your group. Pre-enlist a group member to share a story, or be ready to share one yourself. Find a great current event that connects to the Bible study session, or use a story from the world of sports, politics, entertainment, etc., that tells a story that is relevant to your topic.

David also contributed to the development of a discussion-centered Bible study series, Bible Studies For Life, where this concept was incorporated into the DNA of the group Bible studies. It’s the one that my Bible study group uses weekly, and has for the past 4 1/2 years. It’s made a huge difference in my group, and now my group members love hearing and telling stories week-after-week.

Friday Hot Links – May 19, 2017

I hope you’ve had a great week. I spent 3 days leading part of a Pastor’s Essentials Conference sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. The team met with a group of pastors in central Mississippi and had a wonderful time talking, training, and discussing how to become better disciple-makers in our churches. I’d like to welcome aboard many of those pastors who’ve subscribed to the blog this week!

Here are some hot links for your weekend reading. These are from friends and colleagues I trust to speak truth about church leadership, Bible study groups, and other topics that may be important to you and your church. Happy reading, and thanks as always for supporting and following this blog!

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy



5 principles for welcoming and following up with first-time guests

My family and I spent the better part of a year searching for a new church home after moving to the Nashville area.  I was dismayed by the lack of follow-up when we visited churches and Bible study groups.  Only a few churches bothered to contact us – and even fewer Bible study groups did.  We filled out visitor cards in every worship service and group we attended, but follow-up with our family was almost non-existent. I’ve spoken to others who have experienced the same thing in their search for a church home and a Bible study group.

Here are a few principles for following up on first-time guests. I do my best to practice these with every guest who comes to the Bible study group I lead:

Principle #1 – You can be too aggressive in your follow-up

  • Guests are on a “blind date” with your church and your group – they don’t know what to expect and are often very anxious (if you’ve ever been on a blind date, you know what I’m talking about).
  • Don’t ask them to “marry” your group too fast – that will ruin the “courtship”

Principle #2 – Contact by group members is better than contact by church staff

  • A survey indicates that the impact of a home visit is reduced by approximately 50% when made by a church staff member rather than people from a Bible study group!
  • Guests will assume that contact from staff is a part of their job description, but they really appreciate a call, e-mail, or home visit by one of their peers who is excited about their Bible study group (5 Handles for Getting A Grip on Your Sunday School, p. 10)

Principle #3 – The faster you contact a guest, the more likely it is for them to connect with your group

  • A survey in the book 5 Handles for Getting a Grip on your Sunday School  demonstrated that:
    • If visited in the home within 36 hours, first-time guests return 85% of the time
    • If visited in the home within 72 hours, first-time guests return 60% of the time
    • If visited in the home 7 days after the initial visit, only 15% of first-time guests return the next week
  • Making a home visit may seem like a lot of trouble, a time-waster, and something from a by-gone era, but it can still be an effective way to reach people for Sunday School and church membership.
  • The principle remains, though – faster follow-up leads to a higher percentage of people returning to your group as guests.

Principle #4 – Follow-up is more like a marathon than a sprint.

  • The average family is now visiting a church (or churches) for 18 months before committing to join (Membership Matters, p.95)
  • Patience and follow-up are the keys to moving people from being guests to becoming members.  Pace yourself, and the efforts of your group to reach out to guests.

Principle #5 – Consecutive visits means a higher possibility of reaching guests*

  • 10% of all first-time guests will become members
  • 25% of all second-time guests will become members
  • 45% of all third-time guests will become members

You get the idea…a guest who returns to your church and Bible study group on consecutive Sundays begins to develop a routine, relationships, and a familiarity with your church’s schedule, layout, and ministries.  It makes it more difficult to leave and go to another place where they have to start all over from scratch.

*This applies if the visits are on consecutive Sunday mornings.  This was reported to participants at the Outreach Marketing Road Show in Dallas, TX.


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