Youth Ministry Essentials: Crafting A Bible Study Lesson
Most youth workers have a specific curriculum they teach, so there's not a consistent need to develop lessons from scratch. But what if you don't have curriculum? Or what if the lesson is one, for whatever reason, you have decided not to teach? Or what if you simply have the desire to teach students a specific Book or passage? The ability to craft a lesson from scratch is one all youth workers need to have.
Here is an abbreviated version of the process I go through to create a lesson from scratch.
STEP 1: Pray In John 14:25 Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and will remind us of Christ's words. When I prepare to study and create a lesson, I pray that the Holy Spirit will teach me what He in turn wants me to teach, and remind me of God's Words that He wants me to impart.
STEP 2: Break Down the PassageThis is my favorite part. For the sake of space, here is a shortened version of my steps for breaking down a passage:
- Read It. Re-read It. Re-re-read It.--The first thing I do is read the passage a few times. You'd be surprised the things that jump out at you after the third or fourth time you read through a passage.
- Ask and Answer Questions From the Passage--What questions jump out at you? Jot these down. Then, use a Study Bible, Commentary, and/or a Bible Dictionary to answer them. Many times, these questions will become part of your teaching points.
- Place the Passage in Context--Where does the passage fall in the big picture of the Book it's in? What's happening immediately before and after the passage? These are essential questions. Answering these will keep you from making a passage say something it really doesn't.
- Identify the Passage's Main Theological/Spiritual Truth--The great thing about Scripture is that even a short passage can contain a wealth of spiritual truth. However, you will be most successful teaching teenagers if you identify the passage's most central truth.
- Write the Truth in One Sentence--Writing the passage's main theological/spiritual truth in one sentence helps you know how to begin to shape the application of this truth. Bonus Step--Take the one-sentence theological/spiritual truth from your passage, and find other passages of Scripture that support it.
- Answer the Question: How Does This Truth Apply To My Students?--What is the specific application to a 21st Century, teenage Christ-follower? By answering this question, you are able to help your students apply this truth to their lives.
STEP 3: Organize your thoughts This is where you take all your research and your thoughts and put them into an outline of some sort. You can choose a variety of outlines to organize your thoughts for a lesson. The easiest and most commonly used is some derivative of the following: Thematic Intro, Passage Study, Passage Application.
- The Thematic Intro--This is where you will have the opportunity to bring in object lessons, show videos, play a game or a contest, or have a loose discussion based on the theme of your lesson.
- The Passage Study--This is where you take your research and use it to engage students in guided learning of the passage. There are a million ways to do this, too many to cover here. I would advise teaching in a style you are comfortable with, and that suits your class' developmental needs while being aware of the various learning styles represented in the room.
- The Application--This is simply where you carve out time to explain exactly what the takeaway is. Help students know the one thing they are supposed to glean from the passage.
STEP 4: Practice, Make Final Changes I go over my lesson out loud at least once. And I almost always change something (sometimes, big stuff). Watch your clock. You know how much time you have. I always want to be shorter than my time, to allow for questions or discussion. Once you have made your final changes, you're pretty much ready to go.
These are my thoughts on the process. It's a process that has served me pretty well. Some of it is influenced by Seminary classes, but to be honest, most of it is born out of trial and error in front of students. It's not the only way, but a way that works for me. I hope it works for you, as well.
- What did we miss? What steps or helps do you use in crafting a Bible study lesson?