I love practicing golf almost as much as I love playing the game. Give me a few hours on a driving range or practice facility that has putting and chipping greens, and I’m a happy camper. I have a few drills that I like to practice at the range: drills to help me hit longer, straighter drives…drills to help me chip and putt the ball more accurately…and drills for hitting my ball out of a sand trap with ease. I rotate my way through the various practice options at the range, and I come away with renewed confidence in my golf game.
When it comes to Bible study preparation, I have a favorite 20-minute drill that has helped me become a better Bible teacher. I learned this years ago. I’m glad to share it with you today!
1 Minute – Consult your curriculum series’ leader guide to determine what passage of Scripture your group is supposed to study the next time you meet. Open your Bible to that passage.
2 Minutes – Read the passage of Scripture in your favorite translation of the Bible. That’s it – just read it through. If you have time, read it a second time.
2 Minutes – Read the passage again in a different translation. Note any significant differences, or words that help you understand the gist of the passage. Is it clearer in one of the two versions?
5 Minutes – Ask yourself 3 questions: (1) What is the context of the passage? (2) What point is the author making? (3) How might I or my group members apply this passage to life? Jot down your insights on a notepad. Don’t go longer than 5 minutes!
5 Minutes – Create a 3 point outline of the passage based on your insights. Don’t overthink this. Think like a preacher! What 3 points would you make if you were preaching this passage to your church family? (by putting pressure on yourself to develop an outline quickly, this drill will help you quickly break down passages in the future as you become more proficient at this – you’ll find yourself seeing new things in the biblical text that may be important to your group – and you’ll make a quick decision about the main point or points the biblical author was conveying to his original audience).
5 Minutes – Compare your outline with the one in your leader guide. See how close they are. Ask yourself if your outline is stronger than the one in your leader guide. Ask, “Should I merge the two outlines into one new one, keeping the best wording and points from each one?” Perhaps you shouldn’t combine them, but your drill may have led you to see something(s) in the passage that you want to bring to your group’s attention.
This 20-minute drill will help you jump-start your Bible study preparation each week, but you must put yourself on the clock! This simple drill will make you a better teacher because you will learn to quickly digest and dissect a portion of Scripture, find the main ideas, and organize the passage into a coherent 3-point outline you can use to create a great Bible study for your group. You won’t take a half a day to do this – just 20 minutes! Do it on a lunch hour, do it during the same time frame you would have watched a favorite sit-com on television. The goal of the drill is to quickly discover main ideas in a passage and organize them into an outline you can use to guide your group’s Bible study.
I learned this drill from a pastor I once served with. On occasion at our weekly staff meetings, he’d surprise us and tell us to take out our Bibles. He’d assign us a passage of Scripture, and in an even shorter amount of time we had to come up with a teachable outline! It trained our entire staff to be able to quickly prepare an outline. It came in handy one Sunday morning when my pastor called about 90 minutes before church started with the news he had kidney stones and I’d be the one to preach that day. Because of having repeatedly done this 20-minute drill over time, I was able to pick a passage of Scripture, outline it, come up with my talking points, and step into the pulpit for our 9AM worship service with confidence that I had an outline that would help our people know God’s Word more fully.
I hope you’ll try (and enjoy) this 20-minute preparation drill. Do it multiple times, and you’ll become a pro at outlining a passage and pulling its main ideas from the text. It’s even fun to do this with a group of 3 to 5 people who all look at the same passage of Scripture, then discuss their outlines and what they saw in the passage. Doing it with a group will help give you even more insights into ways you can see new ways to help others apply God’s Word.