As a book that was written and compiled from 15th century B.C. until the 3rd century A.D., the Bible can be difficult to interpret and teach. Yet, the Bible is God’s inspired and authored Word. As the manual and rulebook for Christians to follow it must be taught effectively.
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I recently read the book, Effective Bible Teaching by Jim Wilhoit and Leland Ryken. It was a fantastic book written to help any Christian teach the Bible effectively. Here’s the ten things I found most helpful in the book.
10 Essential Tips for Effective Bible Teaching
1. Charisma does not always equal effective Bible teaching (p. 19).
Research shows that students are poor at assessing the effectiveness of Bible teaching. Students will sometimes rate a Bible teacher as effective even if the Bible teacher only entertains the audience instead of instructing. This is important because a Bible teacher’s job is to focus on teaching truth, not on how to be entertaining and charismatic.
2. Teach the big idea (pp. 81-93).
Teaching the big idea in Bible studies involves finding the “subject” and the “compliment.” The subject is what the passage is about; the compliment is what is said about the subject. This big idea (which includes a subject and compliment) guides the study of the passage and should be relevant to the lives of the readers.
3. Bridge the gap (pp. 95-108).
An imperative for a Bible teacher is to “bridge the gap” between the times of the Bible and now. Two questions can help a Bible teacher to bridge the gap: 1) What did the text mean then? 2) What does the text mean now?
4. Look for unity within biblical passages (pp. 109-122).
Because a Bible teacher uses the Bible to interpret the Bible it is important for him to look for unity in the biblical text. This unity can be in the structure of the passage or it can be unity of theme. Finding a theme communicates the message of the text in a similar way to the big idea.
5. Inductive Bible study can be a group project (pp. 139-151).
In this type of study each member of the group works as a “detective” attempting to carefully note what is in the text, what it might mean, and how the text applies to our lives today.
6. Directed Bible studies can be good with new Christians (pp. 148-151).
In a directed study the teacher will prepare a formal lesson and present that to the class. Even though this type of study limits participant interaction and involvement, it can be used as a good way to convey accurate Bible information for people new in their faith.
7. Write good questions (pp. 160-171).
At the heart of a great group led inductive Bible study are questions. Good questions should be precise, focus on important issues, have a purpose, provoke thoughts among the students, be answerable by the entire group, and be open ended.
8. The idea that good teachers are extroverts is a myth (p. 75-76).
Introverts can also be great teachers as long as they can find ways to connect with participants. This can be done by remembering participants’ names, sharing passion for the topic being taught, as well as expressing concern and genuine interest in the class participants.
9. When teaching the Bible it is important to remember that the entire Bible has unity (pp. 183-187).
Since the Bible spans at least 4,000 years of human history it is easy to see it as separate information (Old and New Testaments, before Jesus and after Jesus, different dispensations, etc.). Instead, teachers must remember that the Bible has theological unity about God, creation, the nature of people, salvation, the church, and eschatology. The Bible also has narrative unity of plot conflict, central characters in every story, and an arrangement that is mostly chronological.
10. Always remember that the Bible is great literature (pp. 196-205).
As great literature the Bible teacher must remind himself that the Bible incorporates incarnation, human experience, meaning through form, and archetypes. Each of these forms of literature are unique and should be studied meticulously by the Bible teacher.
Question: What tips do you have for effective Bible teaching?