The prelude’s importance in a teaching session

Mondays on the blog are about sharing a quote from a book that will help you think about your teaching ministry in a new way. Today’s post is taken from the book Basics of Teaching for Christians by Christian educator and author, Robert Pazmino. In today’s post, Pazmino is going to help us understand one of several “movements” in a teaching session. He uses musical terms to help us comprehend the importance of the prelude, lude, interlude, and postlude as movements found in any Bible study. Today I’m going to focus on the prelude:

The prelude comprises those initial movements that engage students and introduce the teaching content on a particular occasion. The prelude sets the stage for what will follow. The lude designates the major teaching…the postlude brings the teaching…to a conclusion…Students come to a session with various concerns and preoccupations. The challenge for the teacher is to refocus their attention on the matters of the day…In the context of an ongoing group, the prelude builds bridges with what has gone before and what will be coming after the…session. So the prelude more than sets the stage for the major movements that will be explored in the lude of the instruction…The prelude excites the imagination, piquest the mind, and engages the will of the participants in ways that anticipate the transformative potentials of the…content. A teacher hopes that an effective prelude will gain the attention of participants – a growing challenge in a culture so fascinated with entertainment…The ultimate threat for teachers is boredom.

So how might you, the teacher, use the prelude as a way to capture your people’s interests and attention?

  • Pose a question
  • Make a controversial statement
  • Share a story from the news
  • Share a story from history
  • Play a video clip
  • Quickly review content covered in the last session and how it ties to the current study
  • Give your people a pre-test (could be a short fill-in-the-blank document, or a multiple choice test to see how knowledgable they are about the topic at hand)

Don’t assume people have interest in the Bible study as they walk into your classroom or gather around your living room! They come to our groups preoccupied with the cares of life. Make sure you use the time leading up to the exploration of Scripture as a time to capture people’s attention and help them get focused on your Bible study’s main truths.


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Friday’s Hot Links – Sept. 8, 2017

Please join me in praying for the people of Florida as Hurricane Irma prepares to come ashore in Florida this weekend. I have friends who pastor churches there, and they are already canceling weekend services.

Today’s hot links include posts from trusted content providers I know or respect. I hope you’ll find their thoughts helpful as you read over some of them this weekend.

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy

Posts you might like:

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4 ways to close your group’s back door

You’ve heard of the dreaded “back door,” I bet? It’s a way of referring to the people who leave our Bible doorstudy groups over the course of time. Churches have a back door, but that back door is simply the sum total of the back doors of all the groups in its Bible teaching ministry. If you want to close the church’s back door, simply close the back doors of groups.

In my experience, there are 4 ways that groups can close its back door.  As a group leader, I want the people in my group to be present weekly, and I certainly don’t want any of them leaving my group (or the church)! There are a few circumstances beyond my control, of course: I can’t help it when people take on a new job and relocate. Neither can I help it when someone retires and moves away to be closer to children and grandchildren. I can’t help it if someone gets mad at someone or something else in the church. But there are at least 4 things I can do to make sure that the back door of my group is not opened very wide:

  1. Good teaching. I never want to drive anyone out of my group because I do not teach the Word of God effectively. To teach the Bible well, I first have to be well-prepared. I also have to be well-rested. And I need to keep in mind the needs of my group members and the various ways they prefer to learn. I need to teach creatively, using the 8 learning approaches consistently over time. Poor teaching has probably driven more people out of groups and out the back door of the church as much as anything else.
  2. Good fellowship. I used to think that good teaching is enough to hold people in groups. Over the years I’ve come to understand something different – that good teaching, while it is important, may not be as important as people finding friends and getting connected to others in their Bible study group. That pains me, in a way, because I have the spiritual gift of teaching. I love to study and prepare and guide a group’s Bible study. But I’ve had to admit that if I’m going to close the back door of my group, my teaching isn’t enough to do it. I have to structure time in my group’s Bible study for prayer, sharing of needs, and conversations. Plus I have to intentionally schedule time outside the group’s normal meeting time for fellowships like lunches, day trips, and other fun activities that strengthen and grow relationships.
  3. Good ministry. It’s corny but true: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Groups that see people leave in larger numbers often struggle to minister to people prior to their departure. A crisis in someone’s life wasn’t addressed by the group, a need went unmet, and the person felt as though they were insignificant to the group. When that happens, the back door swings wide open. To close it, you have to think of Sunday school (or home groups) beyond the meeting time of the Bible study – it’s really a 24/7 ministry that means you’re always “on” – and if people have needs, you stop what you’re doing and meet those needs.
  4. Good administration. Closely related to number 3 above is the need to be a good administrator. By that I mean that you have to administrate your group’s role – what I like to call a ministry role. It’s a list of the members and prospects of your group. I need to make sure that I’m budgeting time and energy to reaching out to people who are absent (that tends to be about 1/2 my group role each week…yours, too, most likely!), and those who are legitimate prospects to become active members of my group. It also means that I enlist others to help me administrate the group.

Closing the back door starts at the group level. If we can close the back door in each group, the church’s back door will also close. Remember, the church’s back door is nothing more than the sum of the back doors of all its Bible study groups.


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10 ways to lift up Sunday School during your worship service

In many churches, Sunday School (or as David Francis says, “It’s functional equivalent by another name”) is what we call a “Step 2″ strategy. For many congregations, having people attend the worship service is “step 1,” and moving those persons into a small group for Bible study is step 2. If Sunday School (insert whatever name you call yours) is to be an effective step 2 strategy, here are some ways to lift up its importance during your church’s worship service. If you aren’t on your church’s staff, maybe you should send them this post and encourage them to bring Sunday School to the forefront of people’s minds. Here are 10 ways to do that in the worship service:

  1. Pray for a class each week
  2. Pray for a teacher each week
  3. Pray for a class and its teacher each week
  4. Interview an individual or a family about the things they enjoy about their Bible study group (do this once a quarter)
  5. Have a commissioning service where you pray for all of the teachers at the start of a new Sunday School year (usually in August)
  6. Preach a sermon series on the importance of groups, Bible study, and connecting with one another
  7. Use the worship bulletin to feature a group and its teacher each week…a short bio on the group leader, where the class meets, who it’s intended for
  8. Create a special registration card (or include it in your guest information section of the worship bulletin) in which people can specifically request to be connected to a Bible study group
  9. If your adult groups use the same curriculum, preview the upcoming sessions and units of study occasionally to create interest
  10. Preach a sermon series that aligns with your adult groups’ curriculum (if the majority teach from the same series) – and encourage guests and unconnected members to give a Sunday School group a try

There are more ways than these to lift up the importance of your “step 2” strategy. I’d be curious to hear from you about how your church calls attention to Sunday School and gets people moving in that direction.


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Teach by using multi-sensory experiences

Talk Like Ted has become my go-to book for improving my public speaking skills. Today’s post, like those on Tuesdays, is designed to give you a teaching tip you can use immediately, and I’ve chosen to go back to this book and give you another tip for speaking in public. Talk Like Ted is arranged in 3 sections of 3 chapters each. These nine chapters report on the 9 best practices used by men and women who presented world-class TED Talks. Here is something we can learn from these excellent presenters about helping our audience to engage through multiple senses:

“It is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words…Deliver presentations with components that touch more than one of these senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell…Remember, the brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things. It’s nearly impossible to be bored if you are exposed to mesmerizing images, captivating videos, intriguing props, beautiful words, and more than one voice bringing the story to life….The brain craves multi-sensory experiences. Your audience might not be able to explain why they love your presentation; it will be your little secret.”

This past weekend, I used several things to create a multi-sensory experience for my group members. In last Sunday’s Bible study, I:

  • Introduced the study by playing the Star Wars track, “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s theme) to intro our study called “The Dark Side.” It appealed to my musical learners. It also appealed to my auditory learners as well.
  • I wrote notes and responses from my group members on the room’s white board (a visual).
  • Each member of the group used a Personal Study Guide (a “touch” activity). As we interacted with the study materials, that’s also a visual.

So you see, with just a little planning, you can appeal to several of the senses during your group’s Bible study.  What will you do next time you teach to help people engage through their five senses?


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Happy Labor Day!

There isn’t a post today – enjoy your holiday! I’ll be back tomorrow with Tuesday’s teaching tip. Thanks again for following this blog and for serving your church as a teacher-leader. The blog continues to attract many new people each week. Thanks for posting, re-posting, and commenting on blog posts!

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy

Friday Hot Links – Sept. 1, 2017

Happy Friday, everyone! Yesterday’s post went somewhat viral – here’s the link in case you missed the post about the importance of having a Christian education director on church staff. I’m thankful that so many people are talking about the significant contributions a Minister of Education can have on the discipleship of God’s people.

Fridays on the blog are all about giving you some links to great content from people I trust. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them over the weekend.

Please pray for the people of Houston, Texas and all those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy

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