How To Prepare A Bible Study Lesson


You have a group of people who want to learn more about the Bible, and they want you to teach them? What an awesome responsibility! I’m sure you’ll be praying about it and asking God for help. But here’s some important information you’ll need which will help you get ready and teach more effectively.

In the Greek language, Paul used two different words to describe knowledge:

  • One word referred to intellectual knowledge (head knowledge).
  • The other referred to experiential knowledge (heart knowledge).

Good Bible teaching will help people gain head knowledge which will move 16 inches down and become heart knowledge – real life experience. Experiential knowledge is best gained when we use all parts of our mind and senses to take it in. Research shows that we remember:

  • 10% of what we read (e.g. a book).
  • 20% of what we hear (e.g. a speaker).
  • 30% of what we see (e.g. a poster ad).
  • 40% of what we hear and see (e.g. a T.V. program).
  • 70% of what we say (when we give a talk or are talking).
  • 90% of what we say and do (where we are actively involved in the process).

Learner-Centered Teaching

Learner-centered teaching is where the learner is actively involved. Learning has really taken place when a person’s life has changed. In other words, we need to teach with a method that lets the learner discover facts they can apply to their lives today and hopefully in the future.

Planning a Lesson

Following are some tips to help you plan your Bible study, keeping in mind the need for learner-centered teaching.

1. After you have picked the portion of the Bible you want to teach, work through the passage yourself.

This is always the first step in lesson planning and should be done early in the week. This extra work will allow you to think about it, learn it yourself, add to and revise the study during the week.

2. Identify the central truth.

Ask yourself, “What is the main fact or point I want the group to learn from this study?” For instance, your central truth may be that Jesus Christ is God and the only way to reach God.

3. Know your goals.

What do you want the students to do as a result of discovering the central truth? For example, you may hope that by the end of this lesson the students are able to tell another person three ways Jesus is unique.

Make sure your goals are ownable (the students want to do it), reachable (they are able to do it), and measurable (you can find out if they did it).

4. Make a list of your students and what you think they need to understand from the lesson.

This will help you stay person-centered rather than material-centered. Who wants a bunch of information thrown at them? Use this list for prayer during the week too.

Leading the Study

1. Begin with a short learning activity that gets their minds where their bodies are.

You want to get them thinking about the central truth. You might do this through a skit, drawing, or game. Just be creative. This usually takes about 5-10 minutes. For example, you might want them to think about how God searches for lost people. Hide a pager somewhere and set it off, seeing who can find it first.

2. Let them discover what the material has to say about the central truth.

Ask questions about the lesson content. Use open-ended discussion questions rather than ones with “yes” or “no” answers. Read appropriate Scriptures. Let them figure out how this truth relates to their lives.

3. Help them apply the central truth to their lives.

Once they’ve figured this out, they need to apply the truth to their life during the week. Help them see how the truth directly affects their lives. The success of the study depends on how you help them understand what the central truth is and how it applies to their life.

Organizing the Time

The flow of the Bible study needs to be just right. If you spend too much time eating and socializing, you won’t have enough time to dig into God’s Word. On the other hand, if you just study and don’t let the students interact with each other, they may only see the study as an intellectual exercise and not something that applies to their lives right now.

Flow of Your Study

Here’s a suggested flow for your Bible study:

1. Refreshments (20 min.) – Unhindered talking, sharing, and settling

2. Bring group together (5 min.) – Use a catch/hook statement or learning activity to get their attention and introduce the theme

3. Bible Study (30 min.) – Discover the central truth and apply it.

4. Prayer (10 min.) – Pray conversationally if the students are willing.

5. Conclusion – Make announcements for upcoming meetings and plan any other activities. Give rides home to kids who need them.

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What they’re saying about Cru

Do you ever wonder why some sports teams almost always have a winning season? They never seem to lose! If you are part of a team like that, it’s a great feeling! Their competitors hope and pray in vain that they will lose. How can these teams keep winning season after season? It usually goes back to a winning tradition built by a coach who knows how to develop people and a team. He’s always building the program from the ground up. Especially important to this coach is that the younger players understand and master the basics of the game. It is the mastery of these basics that are the building blocks for a winning team. Building an ongoing ministry on the campus is much the same. If we make sure the basics are being done and that their motivation is from God, then we will be doing what it takes to build a lasting ministry. My coach always told us that before we stepped onto the playing field, we had to have made a personal decision to give our best effort. You and your leadership team must make a similar decision before launching the ministry.
  1. Your team must be convinced that God wants to do something special through the ministry on campus.
  2. The team must be committed to trusting God and working hard to see a campus outreach succeed.
If you and your team agree with these two statements, then let’s look at a few of the basic building blocks of a growing ministry.

Pray Consistently

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Trusting God to see students’ lives changed is a spiritual work; God tells us that He is responsible to grow the ministry. We are tools that He uses, but the power for the work is in His hands. A big part of our work is to place the ministry and the lives of people in God’s hands and ask Him to do mighty acts. Enlist others – students and adults – to pray with you.

Develop a Sense of “Cause”

Have you ever seen pictures of people who chain themselves to trees so a big piece of machinery cannot advance and destroy some parcel of land? Or how about a man who stands in front of an army tank driven by his own countryman, daring him to advance the tank by killing him? These are examples of people who hold deep beliefs in a cause. For the ministry to grow, the ministry leadership will have to instill a similar sense of “cause” into the hearts of students. You do this by communicating why the ministry is important in clear and simple terms. Remind people that investing themselves in the souls of people is the most important thing we could possibly be involved in. Challenge students to make sure that their friends and peers will be with them in Heaven. Talk about the “cause” wherever you go.

Sow Broadly

Jesus told a parable about a farmer who went out one morning to sow some seed in his field. Some seed fell on hard ground, some on rocky ground, and other seed fell among the thorns. However, some seed fell on good soil and brought a great harvest. The idea is that the more seed we sow, the more will grow to maturity. I have a friend who is always seeing people he talks with pray and receive Christ. I was impressed with this and I asked him about his “secret” methods. He told me that he had no “secret,” only that he shared his faith many times to get the response. He saw many people trust Jesus because he told many more people about Him. The principle is simple – talk with as many people as you can about the Lord and the ministry. Some will not join you, but many others will.

Master the Basics

Have you heard the story of Vince Lombardi? He is widely accepted as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. At one point in his career, his championship caliber football team was struggling badly – instead of winning by large margins, they were losing to inferior teams. Coach Lombardi decided to start over. One morning at practice he held up a football and said, “gentlemen, this is a football.” These were professional players – but they had lost their grasp on some of the basics of the game. Your ministry team members do not have to own seminary degrees to excel in the work. Trust God greatly, dedicate yourself to a few basic things and the ministry will likely expand. Make it simple:
  • Pray.
  • Share your faith in Christ.
  • Build those who respond to Christ.
  • Train those who want to grow in Christ.
  • Give responsibility to students who can lead others spiritually.

Ask Many People to Be Involved

Telling lots of people about the Lord and the ministry (broad sowing) should result in interest from people at a number of different levels. Asking people to be involved is a big part of a growing group. Adults can provide homes to meet in and money for supplies and food. Christian students can join your leadership team; those who don’t know Christ are those whom you’ll seek to lead to God. Give away jobs to faithful people. Here are some roles people can fill:
  • Coordinate prayer.
  • Lead Bible studies.
  • Organize socials.
  • Plan outreaches.
  • Lead follow-up plans.
  • Coordinate adult helpers.
  • Coordinate meeting places.
As your campus movement implements these basic building blocks, you can be confident that God will use you to make a difference in the lives of many on your campus and grow your own relationship with Him as well.