The title of today’s blog post and teaching tip comes from a phrase a friend of mine once said: “Things take longer than they do.” Ponder that for a moment. In my experience, it’s true!
If you are a leader of an adult or student Bible study, you have a variety of things to accomplish in about an hour:
- You have to guide your group through a relevant, thought-provoking and well-prepared Bible study.
- You have to manage the prayer requests presented by your group members.
- You have to make announcements related to your group or other things taking place in the church.
- You have to recognize and/or introduce any guests.
That’s not easy to do in just an hour. If you’re a teacher/leader in a kids’ group, you face similar pressures to get multiple things done in a relatively short period of time. So what’s a group leader to do? Here are a few tips:
- Allow time for prayer requests and announcements. I realize that many group leaders would prefer to “get to the lesson.” That’s their spiritual gift of teaching coming out. But group members need time to request prayer, and they can often grow closer together as they pray for one another’s needs during the group time. Placing people in groups of 3 to 5 for prayer is a way to get everyone involved and to eliminate a 30 minute prayer request time. As for announcements, keep them to a minimum, and don’t cover any that are already in the church’s worship bulletin – your people can read those before the worship service.
- Cut back on your Bible study content. That almost seems counter-intuitive in a Bible study, but “less is more.” If your study has 4 points, plan on covering only 3. Ask your group members to study point 4 on their own (I’m assuming you might be using an ongoing curriculum). Eliminate an illustration you were going to use. Don’t tell that story you were going to share with the group – just move on and save some time.
- End on time. I’m really fighting this one in my group. Even if I start on time, which I try to do weekly, it’s still difficult to get everything into a one-hour session. Honestly, most groups that meet on a church campus and on Sundays really need 75 minutes to get everything accomplished! Mine has only sixty minutes. It’s important that I budget my time well because I have group members who serve in our church’s choir ministry and greeter ministry who need to leave my group right on time in order for them to serve in other capacities.