Improve your Bible Study with an Old Concept: Total Period Teaching

It’s a lost phrase in most circles of teachers and group leaders:  Total Period Teaching.  In fact, I learned it years ago while in seminary, but just because something is old doesn’t mean you throw it out.  Total Period Teaching simply says that the involvement of your group members in the Bible study will be maximized if you use the entire group time for leading them to engage in a study of God’s Word.  That means that from the time they arrive until the time they leave, you are using the entire period to teach and guide them.  We think that the teaching portion of our Bible study has to come after several other things like a fellowship time and a prayer time.  Not necessarily!  Total Period Teaching says to go ahead and get the group members thinking about Bible study topic the minute they arrive.  Here are several ways to get people to connect with your Bible study topic:

  1. Thematic music – have music playing in the background that is related to your Bible study passage or title.
  2. Visuals – hang or display posters, maps, and other objects that draw people’s attention.
  3. Objects – use an object to hook their interest…hold it, show it, display it, pass it around, etc.
  4. Question – if the place you meet for Bible study has a board, write a question on it and ask group members to think of an answer while other people are arriving.  If you don’t have access to a markerboard, simply write a question on an index card and place it in every seat.
  5. Video – show a video clip or have one playing as people arrive.  Refer to it later in the study.
  6. Paper and pencil activities – design a paper and pencil activity (pre-quiz, fill-in-the-blank, matching exercise, etc).

The rule of thumb is to not just let your group members sit there, but to get them actively engaged in the Bible study.  Think about ways to involve your group in the Bible study from the very beginning of your time together…watch those creative juices flow!


  1. That would be a wonderful method if you can figure out how to get them to arrive on time, or at least no moe than a few minutes late. Mine come in as much as 20 minutes late on a consistent basis. Same ones over and over, How do you solve thar situation?

    • Ruth, that’s a great question. The answer is to always, always start on time. Reward the good behavior of those who chose to get up and get started on time; don’t reward the bad behavior of the latecomers by waiting on them to show up. Train them to come on time by always starting on time. Over the long haul, you’ll send the message that you are not going to wait for the ones who can’t get up and get going in the mornings! If the latecomers feel awkward for interrupting the Bible study…good! Maybe they’ll change their habits and get there on time next week. Bottom line: start on time every time.

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