If you are teaching from a publisher’s curriculum, I encourage you to make it your own and customize this “off the rack” kind of study material. A custom suit is fit to the individual, but an off-the-rack one is designed for any number of customers to wear. Customizing your study will help it fit your group – it’s like purchasing an off-the-rack suit and having it altered. A publisher’s curriculum is designed for many people to use and enjoy; customize it so you get the best fit possible.
Customizing involves cutting. When I was in college, I worked in a men’s clothing department and sold off-the-rack suits. We customized clothing for individuals. Very seldom did a customer purchase a pair of slacks, a suit, or a sportcoat without some kind of modification. Customizing always involved cutting a perfectly good pair of slacks, suit, or sportcoat. You couldn’t get a customized version without cutting. And it’s the same with your Bible study materials!
- Customize by cutting questions. Not all questions are created equal. Some will generate better discussion than others, so be careful in allowing questions into your group’s study. Ask only the best discussion-generating questions, and that means cutting out any that are marginal.
- Customize by cutting activities. Things take longer than they do. When an activity is suggested in the teaching plan, you must calculate how much time it will reasonably take your group to complete it. Some activities will take 5 minutes. Others may take 10 minutes or more. Just because an activity is recommended doesn’t mean you have to do it. Cutting activities is one way to make sure that you finish your Bible study on time and in a leisurely fashion. No one likes feeling rushed to get to the end of it.
- Customize by cutting a point. What?! You mean I don’t have to teach all the points in the suggested outline?! No – you don’t! If a study has 4 points or sections, don’t feel bad about cutting back to just three points. And don’t feel bad about cutting back from 3 points to 2. Give yourself permission to customize the study by cutting out some of the content. They say that 80% of a book’s content is in just 20% of the pages. Take that same mindset into your Bible study. 80% of your Bible study may be in just one or two points.
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