As Bible study teachers prepare their teaching outlines, (or use outlines provided by the producer of their curriculum), they often come to realize that there is a lot of material to cover. Most Bible study teachers have about 35-40 minutes to teach their group members. Normally, Bible studies have 3 or 4 points in the outline, similar to the number of points in a sermon. When teachers sense time is starting to run short, many do not adjust their teaching outline, but instead pick up the pace to make sure they cover all the points. There’s a better way to go about leading a Bible study!
Newer teachers may mistakenly believe they must cover all the points each time the group gathers for Bible study. More experienced leaders may have learned that they don’t have to feel any guilt or remorse over not covering all the points. These teachers end up delivering a better Bible study. Here’s why:
- Wise teachers save something for later. When a teacher is having difficulty moving through the points he wants to cover, he will wisely save the content he was going to deliver until a later time. He might cover it the next time the group meets, or he may hold it in reserve until a much later time. It won’t go to waste, though, so there’s no need to feel pressure to cover all the points.
- Wise teachers don’t want to teach a shallow lesson. Trying to get through all the points can feel like you’re in a race, moving quickly from point-to-point because of time constraints. A well-prepared lesson suddenly feels shallow because group members’ questions go unaddressed in an effort to get through the lesson. Things the teacher wanted to cover have to be left out. The end result? A lesson that leaves everyone feeling like they ate but are not full.
- Wise teachers let the Holy Spirit guide their decision. Perhaps the biggest reason some teachers are perfectly fine not covering all the points in a lesson is because they are listening to the Holy Spirit. As group members’ needs come to the surface in a Bible study, wise teachers allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. Sometimes the group needs to camp out one or two of the points in the lesson. Those are the ones that the Holy Spirit wants to use to minister to the group.
The next time you teach a Bible study, don’t feel compelled to “get through all the points.” Your Bible study will be just as effective, perhaps even more effective, if you didn’t.