If you’ve ever watched the launch of a rocket into space, you’ve seen the incredible power it takes to push the orbiter out of earth’s gravity. Rockets are built to provide thrust in stages, normally three. Coincidentally, every Bible study lesson has 3 stages! They function in much the same way a rocket’s engines do. The 3 stages of a Bible study lesson serve to provide the “thrust” it takes to launch the biblical material into the mind, imagination, and heart of group members.
Stage 1: Motivation – In my opinion, this is the most critical of the 3 stages. You might feel like disagreeing with me on this one, but let me explain. The motivation stage is “liftoff” for the Bible study. It provides the initial inertia to get the biblical material into the minds of the group members, focusing them on the study at hand. You’re having to fight distractions, apathy, and other things to capture the attention of your group members. If you don’t successfully motivate a person to focus their attention on the study at hand, the other two stages don’t matter. To motivate a group to get into the Bible study, ask a great discussion question, show a video clip, share a compelling quote, call attention to a current event that ties to the lesson, display an object, give a pre-test, show a picture, or anything else that gets people thinking about studying the Bible.
Stage 2: Examination – In this second stage, you’ve overcome the initial resistance of group members to the study, and you’ve captured their attention successfully. Now it’s time to dive into God’s Word and examine the text. At this crucial stage of the lesson, you’re going to focus on the background of the passage, the surrounding text, key words, biblical places, the characters in the story, if any, and anything else that adds insight into the Scripture. It is here that most teachers spend the majority of their time. This is also the stage that gives a teacher a reputation for excellence or mediocrity. That fight is won and lost here at this stage.
Stage 3: Application – This final stage of the lesson gives the group leader the chance to answer the question on everyone’s minds: “So what?” During this final stage of Bible study, the group leader must lead his or her people to see how to connect the Bible to life. If that doesn’t take place, the group leader is simply teaching a history lesson. If the group never reaches this stage, the mission is a failure! Unfortunately, unless a group leader is a master at watching the cock and managing time, the application stage is the one that normally gets short-changed.
So which stage is your favorite? Which one do you find yourself focusing on while you prepare to teach? Try balancing all three stages, giving each one equal attention as you pray, plan, and prepare your Bible study next week. All three stages are needed. All three are important.