I’ve been in youth ministry for about 14 years, in a lot of different aspects.
But the thing I love more than anything is opening up the Bible and engaging teenagers with God’s Word.
For me personally, I feel like I am closest to what God has called me to do with my life when I am teaching the Bible. Am I a great Bible study leader? I don’t think so. I routinely find myself noticing something I could have done better or differently. But as a student of good teaching and preaching, I have learned a few things that have really helped me be an effective teacher of God’s Word.
Here are three of them:
1. You are only as good as your preparation.
Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . You know this right? And it’s not a particularly flashy point. But here’s the deal: smart, focused preparation is the single most important aspect of being a great Bible study teacher. I know we’re all busy. We all have other things to do. But if you spent 30 minutes a day in preparation for the three or four days leading up to your teaching time, you’d be amazed at the difference it makes. On the other hand, cramming an hour in the night before or morning of will always leave you falling short of what you’re capable of.
Most great athletes are great because they have mastered the fundamentals. I read a story this week where Kobe Bryant once wouldn’t leave the gym until he made 600 free throws . . . AFTER practice! Free throws are as basic as it gets. But Kobe is a sure fire Hall of Famer in no small part because of his commitment to the basics. Preparing for your lesson is a basic practice, kind of like free throws. But if you can commit to good, focused preparation, your proficiency as a Bible teacher will soar.
2. A passion for the Bible is caught as much as it is taught.
Put simply, if you’re passionate about God’s Word, your teenagers will pick up on this. The best Bible teachers and preachers I know make me want to engage with the Bible like they do. When you approach the Bible like it’s a text book, and your teaching time like it’s a college lecture, don’t be surprised if you lose teenagers’ attention. But if you’re excited and engaging, your students will “catch” this. You’ll show them the Bible isn’t an antiquated text, but is the living word of God.
3. See yourself as a facilitator, not as a speaker.
What do I mean? A speaker is mostly about one-way communication. A speaker has an audience. A speaker speaks, an audience listens. On the other hand, a facilitator is by nature interactive. A facilitator sets the table for an experience to happen. Your goal should be to facilitate a time of interactive learning, a discussion-driven, participatory experience. Your goal is not an information dump, but a two-way journey through a text where you guide teenagers in interactive discovery of God’s truth.
What would you add?
What truth has helped you be a better teacher of the Bible?