Teaching Tip: Use an Outline to Help People Organize Their Thoughts

Tell them what you’re going to tell them.


Tell them.

Tell them what you told them.

Years ago I learned to use this kind of simple outline to help learners organize their thoughts around a Bible study lesson I was about to present. I discovered later that it was actually recommended for use by the philosopher Aristotle. Here’s how it can work for you and your Bible study group:

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them. You can either do this verbally and explain the key points in your Bible study lesson, or you can write an outline of the lesson on a marker board if one is available where you meet. “Today’s lesson is about King Solomon and his wise words about finances. He said we should do three things: (1) know that money often disappears quickly (2) acknowledge that God’s Word makes us wise in the way we respond to money (3) ask God to provide for our daily needs and not a lot more.”  When you do something like this verbally, or by writing the outline on a board, you help people know where you’re going.
  • Tell them. This is the part of the Bible study where you simply lead the study. You’ve got a plan – just do it! Guide the study, ask questions, say important things. This is the heart of the Bible study.
  • Tell them what you told them. After you’ve completed the Bible study, do a quick review. Remind your group members of the major points of emphasis from the study. Encourage them to apply the study as you discussed during the lesson. Sometimes I do this step after the people have left the room and we’ve scattered (I send an email with a quick summary of the study and its main points).


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