Dan Augsburger
Teaching a Bible Lesson

Organize with four objectives in mind:

1.    The objectives must be clear and attainable.
2.    The subject matter should be chosen to achieve the objectives.
3.    The instruction should be adapted to the mind, interests and needs of the students.
4.    The presentation should be made and reinforced in such a manner that all of the students will benefit.(1)

Consider the Objectives in Greater Detail

1. Keep Your Objectives in Mind.
•    What knowledge are you hoping to communicate?
o    What Biblical knowledge?
o    What knowledge regarding the church?
o    What knowledge of the attendees’ personal walk with Jesus?
•    What godly attitudes are you trying to encourage, including
o    Attitudes towards God?
o    Attitudes towards His Word?
o    Attitudes towards the spiritual leaders in the church?
o    Attitudes towards other family members?
o    Attitudes towards life’s priorities?
o    Attitudes towards serving others?
•    How do you want the student’s life changing as a result of the lesson?
o    What habits are you hoping the students will develop?
2. Use Scripture and Illustrations to Communicate the Lesson.
•    What resources can you use in preparing for teaching?
o    Use all the available lesson resources
•    Regular Lesson
•    Teacher’s Edition
•    Other Internet sites found through Google search.
o    Use other Bible Study Resources
•    MacSword or ESword (various commentaries modules are available).
•    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (topical concordance module on steroids).
•    Matthew Henry Commentary (a conservative commentary)
•    Illustrations from daily life can capture the attention of the students, as well as help them grasp the information? In studying some illustrations may come to mind. Note them in quarterly.
o    The more students recognize practical benefit in his or her personal life, the more interest there will be in the lesson.

3. Come Prepared to Attain Your Objectives.
•    By your instruction
o    Share a helpful overview
o    Facilitate discussion
o    Broaden participation.
o    Ask key questions.
o    Speak to the whole person
“In every sermon we should present our theme to the intellect with a thoughtful exposition of its truth; to the imagination, that it may be seen under the prismatic lens; to the conscience that it may receive the sanction and acquiescence of what is best in man; to the heart, that the fountain of emotion may be deeply stirred; to the will that it may be forced to take sides, and choose.”(2)
o    Share vivid illustrations.
o    Maintain focus.
o    Resist distractions.
o    Synthesize the information.
o    Summarize.
o    Appeal to the conscience
“It is only when we have so wrought with God that the conscience has been pricked and stirred, or led to yield its willing or unwilling testimony to the truth of our statements, that we can feel that the true object of our mission has been attained.” (3)
o    Suggest activities outside of class where the information might be put to good use.
•    By your passion.
o    Have a grand and holy purpose in what you teach.
o    Have your soul inflamed by what you teach.
o    Recognize the grave challenges faced by your students.
o    Seek the filling of the Holy Spirit in prayer before hand.
•    By inviting the students to participate in a variety of ways.
o    Initially with icebreaking activities and questions.
o    Individual responses.
o    Small Group discussions and reports.
o    By asking them specific questions to engage them and help them get over their fear of participating.
o    Prayer.
o    By asking them to be involved in something related to the lesson outside of class.
•    By guarding against failings. (4)
o    Guard against an undue familiarity with holy things
•    By failing to recognize that you are on the same journey as those listening.
•    By failing to wait on God in prayer ahead of time.
•    Being smug in your sharing.
o    By having an absence of passion on the subject matter.
o    By touching the subject only superficially
o    By relying on prior study instead of studying the material afresh.
o    By a false sense of superiority.
o    By not maintaining humility, purity, sense of urgency or prayerfulness.
4. Adapt and Present the Lesson in an Engaging, Inclusive, Manner that touches ALL Attendees.
•    Start with a dramatic statement or illustration to catch their attention.
•    Then show them why it is important for them to obtain the lesson’s information.
•    Then tell them what they will study and learn from the lesson.
•    Use practical illustrations that are familiar to students.
•    Communicate the information in a manner that is sensitive and adapted to the varied spiritual levels, minds, interests, cultural and other backgrounds, and needs of the students.
•    Use students as illustrations in making points (i.e. their parenting of a child).
•    Use age and spirituality-appropriate suggestions so that all the students can personally apply the lessons learned in their daily lives.
•    Use simple words and concepts. Complicated presentations are often misunderstood.
•    Study the religious background of attendees to help effectively communicate the gospel to them.

5. Motivate the Students.
•    Reveal God’s claims on their lives.
•    Share appropriate promises of the Bible.
•    Reveal blessings gained in accepting and implementing the truths communicated.
•    Reveal the consequences of not accepting and implementing the truths communicated.
•    Share the inspiring examples of our pioneers and other great Christians.
•    Answer the “why is this important” question.
6. Help Students Retain the Information.
•    Make sure the facts are clearly given.
•    Share new information in the context of facts already understood.
•    Share in a vivid way through illustration.
•    Share your personal convictions regarding significance of study.
•    Repeat important information in varied ways to reinforce the lesson.
•    Have the students discuss it among themselves.
•    Have them commit to memorizing a key verse of Scripture on the subject.
7. Resist Distractions.
•    Remain focused on the key subject matter.
•    Avoid going on tangents.
•    Avoid arguments; defer questions to after class.
8. Conclude in Helpful Way.
•    Synthesize information in summary form.
•    Reassert need to implement knowledge in daily life.
•    Allow time for final questions.
•    Ask students to share how they will respond.
•    Ask them to pray in small groups, or have a group prayer.
9. Plan to Personally Follow Up.
•    What personal contact can be made outside of class?
•    What activities might be organized to implement the matter studied?
•    What activities such as a small group or outing might be organized that would allow students to develop friendships with seekers and eventually enable their bringing them to Sabbath School.
10. Other Thoughts (5)
•    Organize classes on the basis of spiritual maturity, from the age of 13 upwards.
•    Develop special discipling classes that require a prior participation commitment that includes, preparation ahead of time, memorization, Bible study and prayer on daily basis, ongoing attendance, and punctuality. An unwillingness to commit to ALL parts of the commitment negates the person’s eligibility to join such a discipling class since such a commitment encourages the same kind of complete spiritual commitment to God.
•    Disallow comments by individuals who have not studied the lesson ahead of time.

(1) George Betts, How To Teach Religion, (New York, NY: Abingdon Press, 1910), p. 56. I happily acknowledge my debt to Betts’ book in developing this outline.
(2) F. B. Myer, Jottings and Hints, (London: Andrew Melrose Publishing, 1903), p. 18.
(3) Ibid., p. 20
(4) Ibid., p. 111-121
(5) I observed some wonderful ideas for Bible classes at the Gateway Church in Melbourne, Australia.

Prepared by Dan Augsburger.
More resources can be found at http://www.sabbathschoolpersonalministries.org/article.php?id=35.
Dan can be contacted via path2prayer@gmail.com.

Other Resources

Teaching Children (suggestions from observing an engaging class of youngsters in Collonges France)

Thoughts on Teaching the Adult Sabbath School Class (Some thought-provoking ideas on the subject)

A Sample Lesson Plan (includes downloadable pdf)