Have you been to a movie lately? If you have, then you probably sat through 15 minutes of previews…the coming attractions that Hollywood film producers want you to see now so that you’ll see their move in the future. Some of the previews are for movies that open soon…sometimes within weeks. Other previews of coming attractions feature movies that are months away from being released. Hollywood knows the importance of planting seeds. Plant now, harvest later. What can Bible study group leaders learn from this practice?
1. Learn to look ahead. Every Bible study leader should know the next series of sessions he will teach. A guide must know where he’s going, and a Bible study leader is a most important guide. If anyone in the group asks, “What’s next?,” the group leader should be able to respond with a definite answer about the “coming attraction” his group will study next.
2. Regularly promote the next “coming attraction.” As a Bible study leader concludes a teaching session, he should stop and give a short preview of the next session’s topic. When a group leader says, “I’m so excited to tell you that next week we will study the story of the prodigal son and learn new things you’ve never seen in this story!” is just one example of how excitement can be generated early, and how people can be encouraged to attend the next group meeting because the study will be so great, they won’t want to miss out. It’s also a good idea to preview a whole new Bible study series before it starts. Setting aside time to quickly look ahead at the next Bible study that spans four, six, or eight or more sessions will give group members a sense of where the entire study is going, and it lets them see how individual sessions connect to the larger study as a whole.
3. Use visual reminders. Hollywood producers don’t just tell you about their upcoming movie, they show you snippets from the upcoming movie. Theaters hang giant movie posters and leave them up for months to entice you to see new movies. Why not use visuals yourself to promote a coming attraction/Bible study? Create a flyer, send an email to group members with a screen shot of the Personal Study Guide (PSG) cover, or set up a table with PSGs, pens, a Bible, etc., to generate excitement in the upcoming study.
Hollywood knows that it must tell us in advance about the movies it is producing so that we will want to see them when they arrive in theaters. Let’s learn from their example and be proactive in previewing upcoming Bible studies so that we generate interest in the studies and involve as many people possible in the study of God’s Word.