18 Bible teaching tips for facilitators
It can be nerve wrecking to teach or facilitate a Bible-based class for the first time. After all, God’s Word reminds us that those who teach will be placed under greater scrutiny. Not only do we need to ensure that we represent God‘s character and intentions accurately, we must check our hearts; that we also practice what we teach and will always bring glory to God, not to people.
James 3:1 ESV Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Our ultimate goal: A change of heart
The Bible gives us the foundation for an abundant life of love, joy, and peace. God’s Word trains us to follow Him faithfully, by showing us the truth about His love and our identity in Him.
Romans 12:2 ESV Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Most crucially, the Bible sheds light on the true condition of our hearts; our thoughts and intentions. Ultimately, God is much more interested in the conditions of our hearts than what we know or do.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV … For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
Our goal is to ensure that we share biblical truths so that people will love God sincerely and become “doers of the word, and not hearers only.” We need to foster an environment for God’s Word to do a deeper work in people’s hearts through the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit will spotlight the things that hinder us from deepening our relationship with Him.
James 1:22 ESV But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
John 16:8 ESV And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
We are called to teach and admonish one another
Whilst some people are naturally gifted at teaching, we are all called to teach and admonish one another based on God’s Word. Older men and women in particular, are called to be good role models and pass on their wisdom to those who are younger, teaching them how to live godly lives so that no one can accuse us of being hypocritical believers.
Colossians 3:16 ESV Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Titus 2:1-8 ESV But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober–minded, dignified, self–controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self–controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self–controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Teaching facilitation tips for the classroom
It’s one thing to teach intellectually from the Bible, another to help draw people closer to God.
Here is a collection of quick teaching tips that will hopefully help us do the latter.
1. Humbly submit our hearts and honour God
Just as we aim to teach so that people’s hearts are turned towards God, we too need to check our own hearts. When we teach, we serve God first, then His people. It doesn’t matter if we teach a group of 3 people or 3,000. All too often, we may feel anxious when we may make it about ourselves.
- To begin with, let us pray to submit our fleshly inclinations to God.
- Humbly confess our weaknesses and ask God for His wisdom.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire our thoughts and ideas.
- Seek to demonstrate biblical truths from God’s point of view, not from our personal points of view or opinions.
John 16:13 ESV When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
James 1:5 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
2. Select the topic carefully and research thoroughly
Our teaching should never be skewed by our own bias, lack of preparation or personal issues. We do not want to take God’s name in vain when we teach in His name. Let us represent God’s Word accurately.
- Only teach on topics we are familiar with and have had some personal experience with.
- Lay our personal agendas and opinions aside.
- Check all references carefully, we must be very careful not to propagate false teachings.
- Do not only read the entire chapter of every Bible verse we refer to, but the preceding and following ones as well so we do not quote anything out of context.
- Do not be afraid to admit that we don’t know the answer to a question.
Exodus 20:7 ESV “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
3. Look at things from others’ view
As we start to plan our teaching materials, it is important to consider how our audience sees their world, and prepare our lessons to move their views towards God’s.
4. Keep to 1 theme, 3 succinct key points, and 1 action step
The suggested “1 theme, 3 succinct key points, and 1 action step” combination is a helpful guideline, though not a fixed rule.
More is not better. People cannot retain a lot of information in their minds. Wherever possible, let us limit the number of points to remember. Our teachings will be more effective when they can recall key points off-the-cuff.
- Stick with one main theme, and support it with a handful of key points.
- Keep our slides and teaching materials simple and to the point, avoid over-complicating them.
- Keep to 20 slides at most.
- Try to use action-oriented titles e.g. “Read the Bible daily”, instead of simply “Bible reading” or “Jesus chose 12 disciples” rather than “About the apostles”.
- Keep to simpler words, to cater to new believers or those speak another mother tongue e.g. “Jesus rose from the dead,” instead of “Jesus resurrected”.
This does not mean that we can skim on teaching the full truth. We do not want to water down God’s commandments and dilute His truths.
Matthew 5:19 ESV Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
5. Prepare visual aids and props
Diagrams, images, and charts communicate more than words alone.
- Consider using props to illustrate key points.
- Assign name tags so people can get to know one another easily.
- Avoid black and white slides, use strong deep colours and alternate them for visual interest.
- Try to keep each slide to one key point, no more than three lines long, so they are easy to read.
- Use QR codes for website URLs for easy reference.
6. Make it practical and relatable
We should aim to make our lessons practical and relatable.
- Share our own personal experiences.
- Include real-life testimonies from a variety of sources.
- Ask the participants questions so they can share their answers.
- Build practical stories around the biblical truth.
- Think of analogies that people can personally relate to. For instance, “Which area would Jesus have grown up in if He were to be born now? Is there a place that is similar to Nazareth in your country (John 1:46)?”
- Always allow time for questions.
- Allow for short 10-minute bathroom breaks every two hours.
Some Bible teachings can be intellectually stimulating. Examples including lessons retracing the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys or the history of the church. Even so, it is still possible to use such opportunities to teach on God’s faithfulness, people’s sinful ways and the hope we have in Christ.
7. Arrive 30 minutes beforehand
On the day of class, we should arrive early to pray to commit the session to God’s lead
- Invite the Holy Spirit to do a spiritual cleansing of the room.
- Silence unbelief or confusion in Jesus’ name.
- Submit our hearts to God’s leading.
- Review the layout and lighting, and set up things to focus on the teaching upfront.
1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…
8. Provide a warm joyful welcome
It is a joy to welcome God’s children who want to study His Word.
- Personally greet and welcome as many people as possible as they arrive.
- Explain our expectations before teaching, inviting participants to ask questions, take notes, discuss.
- Explain some housekeeping tips, pointing to where the restrooms are and mention any breaks during the class.
9. Lead participants in an opening prayer, not pray for them
It is much more heartfelt if participants pray for themselves. We can open with a prayer and then invite them to continuing praying in their own words. For instance, we can way, “First, please thank God in your own words for what He wants to teach you today. Next, let us invite the Holy Spirit to open our hearts. Lastly, please silence any thoughts of unbelief or pre-conceived ideas that might distract you.”
10. Make maximum use of the room
Facilitators that move amongst the audience break an invisible barrier between themselves and the participants. It is good to mingle with the audience.
- Avoid standing in the same spot in the same posture for more than five minutes.
- Move around the full length of the room.
- Display our props in different parts of the room.
- Stick some clues or questions under participants’ seats.
- Encourage people to do stretching exercises during breaks if there is space.
11. Be personable
In any Bible teaching class, the true Teacher is Jesus. We are peers to the rest in class and can actively convey that message through our body language and words.
Matthew 23:10 ESV Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.
- Present as if we are speaking with a friend.
- Kick off by first sharing something personal, mention anything we might have in common with the audience.
- Address people by name, wherever possible.
- Maintain eye contact with everyone in the audience. Do not just look at our teaching materials.
- Offer to speak with people individually afterward if there is time.
- Provide a contact point.
12. Watch participants closely
Our audience is communicating back to us all the time. Someone’s eyes and body gestures will convey if they are listening, sleepy, confused, thinking, daydreaming, uncomfortable or surprised, even if they don’t say anything.
It is important to gauge how our audience is responding to the lessons and react accordingly. We may need to speak louder, ask a question, share something amusing to lift the mood or simply pause for a break. We should never pick on or embarrass anyone in the audience.
13. Actively involve the participants
Sitting down to listen to someone speak for hours can become tiresome for our class participants. People learn better when they interact with each other and hear themselves speak.
- Break the class into groups of three and give them something to discuss and work on together.
- Incorporate their examples and questions into the teaching.
- Ask the class to answer a participant’s question.
- Invite one or two participants to do a simple roleplay with us.
14. Always maintain high energy levels
If we are low in energy or speak in a monotone, our class participants are likely to fall asleep. An audience’s energy level will always fall below the class presenter’s.
- Make an effort to speak and behave more energetically than normal.
- Use our facial features and body gestures to vividly express ideas.
- Vary the tone of our voices and project our voices to the back of the room.
- Remember to smile.
- Don’t be afraid to use surprise, suspence, humour, rewards, and props. We can even ask class participants to stand up and move around.
- Never merely read off documents or slides.
- Avoid leaning on the furniture, this will make us look lethargic.
15. Use silent pauses
Sometimes, silence can be powerful. We can use quiet pauses to good effect.
- Never just keep talking. People will not be able to follow after a while and will simply “switch off”.
- Pause periodically and ask if anyone has questions.
- Deliberately keep quiet for a few seconds once in a while, to give people a chance to absorb and think the teachings.
16. Avoid arguments and distracting debates
We ought to respectfully defend God’s Word against false teachings. At the same time, we should avoid arguments and debates that are distracting. It is important that we can say, “May I suggest we search the Bible for the full picture on this topic before we go further?” or “I’m afraid that your question is outside what we have come here to discuss today. Can we leave it for another time and day?”
Titus 1:9 ESV He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
1 Peter 3:15-17 ESV But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God‘s will, than for doing evil.
Titus 3:9 ESV But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
17. Find ways to apply the lessons immediately
Our teachings should always end with action points. It is good to ask our class participants to keep one another accountable, particularly if they already know someone else in the group. If the class will meet again, we can ask participants how they applied what they learnt in the previous session.
18. Always end with a time to check our hearts
Finally, let us always make time at the end for prayer. This gives people an opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to search their hearts and show them what they should apply what they have learnt. We merely plant seeds. God is the One who helps His Word flourish and bear good fruit in people’s hearts.
Matthew 7:17-20 ESV So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
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