8 Lessons Learned from Teaching an Adult Bible Study

Today’s post is from one of LifeWay’s most seasoned veteran leaders, Alan Raughton. He serves as an Adult Ministry Specialist and has 20 years of experience training and teaching others how to have effective Bible study groups.

Alan teaching his Bible study group
Alan teaching his Bible study group

At a recent retreat with some of the country’s best Sunday School and groups leaders, Alan shared 8 lessons he’s learned from teaching his adult Bible study group. His insights were great and right on point, so I asked his permission to share them with my blog audience (Alan follows my blog and is a part of that audience). Here are Alan’s insights about his ministry as a Sunday School teacher.

  1. The purpose of my class and the purpose of my church must be the same. My Sunday School class in the church in microcosm. If the purpose of the church is to make disciples, then the purpose of my class is to make disciples.
  2. People are looking for community and content. People want to build relationships with one another. They want real friends outside of class and not just friends on Sunday mornings. But they also want a pretty good Bible study!
  3. Discipleship happens best in the context of relationships. Relationships happen best when people are in small Bible study groups.

    Alan uses different teaching methods to engage his people in Bible study
    Alan uses different teaching methods to engage his people in Bible study
  4. The bigger my class gets, the smaller it must get. As my class grows, I have to move them from semi-circle rows to small circles for discussion. My class should have a “groupalogue” – everyone should be allowed to talk, even encouraged to do so. As my class grows, I need to send members out to start new adult groups, or encourage them to teach  in other age groups that reach students and kids.
  5. If I’m going to start a new group, I must have an apprentice. An apprentice is someone I work with to take over my class so I can start another group. I’ve never had anyone say, “Thanks for asking me!” I typically hear, “Let me pray about it,” which usually means “no way.” Once they understand I’m working with them over a year, they get more comfortable in the role. This is also a great way to disciple someone one-on-one.
  6. We need a new metric. I should not be judged by how many people are enrolled in my class. I shouldn’t be judged by how many people actually attend the class. I should be judged by how many new groups I start and by how many members I send out to teach in other age groups in the church.

    People learn best when they are allowed to talk
    People learn best when they are allowed to talk
  7. Class members will allow you to do everything for them if you allow it.
  8. You can get members to read their lessons each week. Use the personal study guide as you teach. Have group members mark up the PSG like they would a workbook.

As you can see, Alan has great insights from leading his adult Bible study group. I am thankful for his friendship and leadership. I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t teach and train people to do things that he doesn’t practice! He’s in the trenches every week, teaching and leading his Bible study group. He practices what he preaches.

Follow Alan on Twitter. He goes by @AlanRaughton.


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