Today, I want to address a few questions:
How can I stop students from falling asleep in my bible studies?
How can I stir up a passion in my non-Christian friends?
How can I increase my zeal for God’s Word (even the boring parts)?
Here’s the bite-sized answer:
Of course, I’ll give you the full answer in this blog posts. By the end of this article, you’ll have 3 powerful techniques that you’ll be able to use in your next Bible Study.
But first, here are a few things you don’t need to speak about the Bible in a captivating way:
1. A degree in Christian Ministry
2. Public Speaking Experience
3. Professional credentials
Of course, teaching truth is non-negotiable. As a bible teacher, your goal is to take part in God’s formation of other Christian’s characters. But you don’t need to be a professional to lead someone into the life-changing truths of scripture.
You have to be interesting.
So what exactly do you have to do?
Let’s explore together.
Contents (Feel free to skip around)
- 1 First- Ask Interesting Questions to spark a conversation
- 1.1 Question #1- Launch Questions.
- 1.2 Question #2- Exploring Questions.
- 1.3 Question #3-Heart Level Response Questions.
- 2 Second- Shock them with Gripping Facts and Exaggeration
- 3 Third- Use Everyday Examples to Clarify Your Message
- 4 CONCLUSION: Say Goodbye to Boring Bible Studies
First- Ask Interesting Questions to spark a conversation
Asking interesting questions are the best way to have an engaging, exciting class. And the best part? Ask the right ones, and soon enough your listeners will be come raging fans of Bible Study.
Why are questions so effective?
- Answering Questions give the students a voice, and help them feel valued.
- Answering Questions help the students contemplate and reflect on what they’ve heard.
- Answering Questions help the teacher gauge student’s progress
- Answering Questions transforms a one-sided lecture into an engaging conversation.
Jesus often used questions to cause His listeners to reflect on what He was saying. Consider these questions He asked:
And if you greet your brethren only, what is unusual about that? Do not the unbelievers do the same? (Matt 5:47)
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? Matt 6:27But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? (John 5:44)
These questions pierced the hearts of their listeners. They caused them to reflect on the state of their heart.
You’ll need to choose the right questions to help the audience reflect like Jesus did.
Campus Crusade for Christ International has perfected this. They have found that 3 types of questions spark conversation:
Question #1- Launch Questions.
Cru.org says “A good way to start a study is using a wide open question that raises an issue that your passage will address. This is not a “get to know you” kind of question, but one that links to your passage and touches on an aspect of our Fallen Condition that’s surfaced in the passage.
Example: Describe a time in your life when you felt like you just couldn’t measure up? (A possible lead-in question to a study on grace or forgiveness.) Name a hero you had growing up. What made you want to be like him/her? (This could launch a study on, say, Ephesians 5 where Paul exhorts his readers to “imitate God” or a 1 Timothy 4 study on “setting an example.”)
Question #2- Exploring Questions.
These questions help your group discover what God says in the passage. They should be open-ended, and really can be any 3 of the following:
1. Observation questions that ask “What does the passage say?”
Example: Ephesians 2:1-10, how does Paul describe the contrast between who they are now in
Christ with who they once were?
2. Interpretation questions that ask “What does the passage mean?”
Example: In Ephesians 2:2, what does it mean that we once walked according to the ways of
3. Significance Questions that ask “What does it matter?”
Example: In light of Ephesians 2:1-3, what would the rest of your life look like if God hadn’t
rescued you from your sin?
Question #3-Heart Level Response Questions.
Cru.org notes that “Your teaching will be most effective when it helps expose our Fallen Condition (heart inclined toward finding life outside of a relationship with Christ) and when it points to Christ for the redemptive solution..” Here are a few pointer to help you do that:
Ask questions that help them envision what their life would be like if they lived out the Biblical principles and teachings.
Ask questions that point your group to Christ as redeemer and the solution to their problems.
These questions can change the atmosphere from boring to vibrant and dynamic. But Keep in mind that such a powerful technique is not without its dangers:
WARNINGS FOR THIS TECHNIQUE:
- Ask relevant questions. Don’t ask something for the sake of asking questions.
- Don’t forget to answer your questions! Don’t be so focused on asking questions that your don’t answer them!
- Beware of rabbit trails and tangents. These can waste precious time. Get to the point, and then move on.
Bonus: For a bible study that is engaging and instructing, use a combination of questions and statements for greatest impact. For the first half of your time, just ask questions from each of the three categories and build on your student’s answers. For the second half of your lesson, wrap up the questions and YOU speak alone, sharing the main lesson and application points.
Second- Shock them with Gripping Facts and Exaggeration
Jesus used shocking images to catch attention and cause reflection:
If your eye causes you to sin, rip it out.
It’s easier to shove a camel through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter heaven.
If anyone does not hate his brother…he cannot be a disciples.
Now, you don’t want to stretch the truth. You don’t want to lie. You don’t want to scandalize your meeting. But even speaking in an unexpected tone can cause your listener to tilt their attention your way.
Check out out how Paul Washer effectively shifts the tone of the entire meeting by shocking his audience. Notice- he doesn’t lose his credibility. He doesn’t offend his audience. He doesn’t stretch the truth. But he shocks them. And I know they never forget this night.
They feel the tension…but they hear the truth.
The truth can be shocking sometimes. Find the courage to say what you need to say.
Third- Use Everyday Examples to Clarify Your Message
Jesus taught spiritual truths. But He did so by using everyday, natural objects that his audience was familiar with.
For example, Jesus once taught the abstract and complex truth of salvation to a common crowd. To do so, He used the very familiar picture of a tender Shepherd and His flock.
This helped his audience understand that:
- Like sheep, people are prone to stray from the truth and the right paths of life.
- Like Sheep, people stray from the right paths, and often don’t even realize they have.
- Like a loving Shepherd, Jesus searches for people. He doesn’t send someone else to go. And he doesn’t hunt groups. He searches each one of us. And He brings us into a loving relationship with Him.
Now, He could have lectured. He could have used abstract verbiage. He could have given the historical background of salvation using old testament scripture. But He didn’t. And they understood because He was accessible. Simple. Clear. Powerful.
Once we all see how pathetic, pitiful, and hopeless a lost sheep is, we at once can see the gravity of our lost condition. Once we all see Jesus as a Shepherd, we understand His love. His persistence. Our hopelessness without a Savior.
If you are finding yourself speaking in abstract concepts- try using a picture to illustrate. I promise people will connect.
I once heard someone describe prayer as a cell phone. Prayer is about connecting with the other person. The focus is not on the phone but the conversation. This helped me understand that prayer is about connecting with God. There is no formula to the perfect prayer. Like a phone conversation, the focus is on the other person, not on a specific prayer formula or request.
Now, here is a warning…
Don’t use outdated illustrations. You may have to explain more that you originally wanted to. Make sure your reader is familiar with your illustration. Don’t use an example about snow when your listener lives in a tropical climate and has never seen snow. Get it?
CONCLUSION: Say Goodbye to Boring Bible Studies
Most people think that the Bible is dull, confusing, and uninteresting. And for that reason, they skip over the precious truths of scripture.
Unfortunately, most bible studies prove them right. They are lifeless, ineffective, and boring.
If you are to be an effective Bible teacher to a full class of students, or to a curious friend, you must captivate them.
Because let’s face it, knowing and speaking the truth is not enough. The way you say something is as important as what you say. “How” and “What” are best friends.
So, we must speak the truth. But we must also be interesting, so that that truth penetrates hearts the way it should.
What techniques do you use to teach the bible? Share them in the comments below.