Practices for Effective Bible Study and Teaching

July 21, 2014 — 2 Comments

In 2009 I endeavored my first attempt teaching a Bible study. It was for a men’s Bible study consisting of myself and three other men of various ages. I began leading us through the book of Nehemiah and then we spent half of a year looking at the fifteen years of David’s life before he became king.

Practices for Effective Bible Study and Teaching

Photo Credit: Mattea Photography

This experience teaching the Bible showed me two things:

  1. I loved teaching the Bible.
  2. I had to improve my ability to study and teach the Bible.

Recently I read the book, The Christian Educator’s Handbook on Teaching. It was a great book which outlined ten tips that can help you study and teach the Bible better.

1. Be a diligent Bible student (pp. 269-272).
Every teacher should carefully study the Bible because the Bible helps the teacher grow spiritually, it guides him, guards him against sin, and encourages the teacher to move toward spiritual maturity.

2. Book synthesis is a great way to study the Bible (pp. 272-274).
Book synthesis is the process of studying an entire book of the Bible in order to derive its main message and meaning. A book synthesis is conducted by first reading the book at least twice, looking for background information, observing repeated words/phrases, dividing the book into parts, as well as finding the purpose and pulse of the book.

3. Chapter analysis is another great way to study the Bible (pp. 274-276).
Only after getting a feel for the message of an entire book can chapter analysis correctly occur. Chapter analysis starts by reading the chapter several times; dividing it into parts; viewing its structure; looking for answers the questions who, what, where, when, and why; asking “I wonder” questions; and finally summarizing the point of the chapter.

4. Conducting a biographical approach from a character in Scripture is yet another way that teachers can study the Bible (pp. 276-277).
The process for conducting a biographical study is to locate all the references to that person, read all of those references, observe and write down all the facts about that person, write the order of events in the character’s life, list the strengths and weaknesses of the character, write out some of the major principles displayed in the life of that character, write out some of the personal applications from that character’s life, and then finally write out a creative presentation of that person’s life.

5. Once the teacher has correctly studied the text it is important for him to create an application based on his findings from study (pp. 281-282).
The application should involve areas of commonality between the participants and the original audience as well as always including a specific action/response.

6. Employ all five of the senses of the participants being taught (p. 196).
Research has shown that people learn 1 percent through taste, 1.5 percent through touch, 3.5 percent through smell, 11 percent through hearing, and 83 percent through sight. Because of the ways people learn, audio/visual materials must be employed during teaching so participants may maximize their learning.

7. When using visuals to support the speaker it is important to keep the visuals simple (pp. 206-207).
Most visuals contain too much information which inhibits their effectiveness. Instead, keep them simple and keep text minimal.

8. When using speaker support visuals keep them unified (pp. 207-208).
In order to reduce clutter and allow participants to focus on the content of the visuals keep the headers, fonts, and sizes standardized for each slide.

9. When using visuals to support a teacher they must be interesting (p. 208).
It is okay to create a strong contrast between text colors, font types, and font sizes. This variety is good to have on each slide as long as the basic template matches the other slides and visuals being used.

10. When using a visual to support a speaker make the focal point dominant (pp. 208-210).
This should be the place where the eye of the participant comes to rest. Use colors, the direction of the text, or objects in the visual to point the participant to the place on the page his eyes are supposed to rest at.

Question: What methods do you use to study and teach the Bible?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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  • Great post Christopher – For my personal study I will read two chapters from the OT and then draw out one or two points to journal using SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) I will then do two chapters from the NT – I start in Genesis and Matthew respectively. – Most of my sermons and teach come out of my own personal study. i try and give background information and additional supporting scriptures to try and explain the fullness of the topic.I encourage the people to avoid “cherry picking” individual verses. Also, if it is small group I try to create more dialog instead of just me talking.

    • Jon, thank you for sharing. I do not hear of many people who simply start in Genesis and Matthew and read through. However, I believe that to be a great method. For my personal study I start in Genesis every year and end in Revelation. Keep up your great ministry!