Preparing for a Sunday School Lesson with DEPTH, Part 1

Wednesday 25th February, 2009

I am attending the annual meeting of the Baptist Association of Christian Educators at Ridgecrest. This year's meeting theme is "Ministering in an ADHD World." There were many takeaways from today's sessions, and I am already looking forward to the time tomorrow. Our speakers have been Jason Hayes and Michael Kelley who work on Threads (collegiate and young adult Bible study) for LifeWay.

After a discussion about ADHD and postmodernism, they identified four markers (also on the About section of their website): community, depth, responsibility, and connection. In discussing leadership, they contrasted modernity's leadership as expert/follow me versus postmodernity's leadership as leading from the middle of the pack. Then they drilled down on depth for us. They introduced three characteristics of "leadership in the pack" with depth:

  • move from information to exploration: stop telling and start leading them to discover and own the learning;
  • move from admiration to identification: no longer automatic respect given to positions; often earned by being honest about who we are; and
  • move from dispensation to revelation: we are not just communicating content, we are communicating ourselves (communication through personality); less about information and more about encounter.
Then Michael walked us through seven steps of what preparing for Bible study with a focus on depth would look like. In Part 1, I will share the first three steps in all capitals followed by his suggestions and my commentary:
  • READ THE TEXT. Read it and read it again. Read it in multiple translations. Read it and look from different perspectives. Read it and put yourself in the story. Consider the context and characters, the history and background, and the words and emotions. What do you see in the text? Camp here until you are very familiar with the text.
  • QUESTION THE TEXT. Ask questions--lots of questions. Go through the reporter questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why. Try to ask every question so you are not surprised by a learner asking a question for the first time. Write them down. Find answers for as many as you can, but even those without answers will help you be better prepared in how to answer them in case they are asked.
  • LEARN THE TEXT. Study other resources: commentaries, Bible atlas, Bible dictionary, concordance, and more. What do other writers have to say about the text. What do other Bible passages have to say about the text? Get to know what the words mean. Look at the customs and history in greater depth.
Too often I encounter teachers who fail to spend enough time in the Word to bring depth to the Bible study encounter. Learn these steps. Teach others these steps: Read the text. Ask lots of questions. Learn it. In Part 2, we will look at four more essential steps for bringing depth to the experience--which is so important today! In the meantime, examine your lesson preparation. Which of these three areas is your strength? Which one needs improvement. What can you do this week to address that step in your preparation for life-changing Bible study with depth? Read, question, and learn the text. Be revolutionary!

For additional ideas about lesson preparation, check out these blog posts:

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