This is the first part of a two-part series on how to teach the Bible through discussion without missing the point of the lesson.
We have all sat through our share of boring lectures. You’ve probably been lectured by your parents when you were growing up, maybe more than once. Odds are, you’ve also been lectured by a teacher in school or your supervisor at work. And if you’ve attended a small group Bible study at your church for any length of time, you’ve probably been lectured there too.
Most people seem content with one-way communication when it comes to the pastor’s sermon. But when it comes to a small group Bible study, one-way communication is often not enough. When people gather for a Sunday school class or an in-home community group they are usually looking for an opportunity to interact with one another and ask questions about the lesson. Even if the comments or questions are off topic, they are proof that the participants expect to participate in the lesson.
In my next post I will suggest 5 tips for teaching the Bible through discussion without missing the point. In this post I will point out 4 major challenges to leading an effective and interactive small group.
Depending on the format and location of your gathering you may have to deal with noise from other groups, young children, or others passing by. You may also have to deal with those who misunderstand the nature of study or the point of the lesson by repeatedly steering the discussion off topic.
2. Dominant Personalities
Some people feel the need to be the center of attention everywhere they go. Even though they may not realize it, they dominate the discussion and make others feel uncomfortable.
3. Disinterested people
People come to a small group Bible study for different reasons. Some come on their own because they are genuinely interested. Others come because they have been forced to come or manipulated into coming by someone else. Even people who have the best intentions sometimes struggle to express themselves or connect with certain topics or discussions.
4. Delicate egos
Meaningful Bibles studies are bound to touch on sensitive issues from time to time. Even when handled delicately, some people are still offended or hurt. They may be carrying excessive emotional baggage or have an agenda, but these people allow their thin skin to spoil the group’s atmosphere.
What have I left out? What challenges have you come across while leading an effective and interactive small group Bible study?
3 thoughts on “How to Teach the Bible Through Discussion Without Missing the Point, Part 1”
There have been times when some members see the meeting more as an opportunity to socialize rather than discuss the specific issues of the bible or book study. The challenge for me, as a leader, is to strike a balance between socializing and purposeful discussion. And then a second challenge, perhaps connected to the first, is the preparation of some group members. If there is “homework,” some members have not prepared for the discussion.
You are right that it is difficult to strike a balance between socializing and purposeful discussion, Rob. My approach to this has been to keep a mental score card. Sometimes I move the group toward more purposeful discussion, sometimes I allow for more socializing. If either one of these is a failure on my part, at least I try to keep it balanced. I also make myself available before and afterward to encourage lots of socializing once our “work” is done. I also understand the other challenge you mentioned. I’ve found that positive peer pressure and accountability can go a long way toward encouraging group members to do their homework. Thanks for your comment.