One of the most important aspects of the Christian life is the study of the Bible. Therefore, the Bible teacher must take his role very seriously. Having taught the Bible for the last eight years, I’ve found that how hard you work in preparation is a great indicator of how well your teaching will go. Knowing all that can make preparing a study very intimidating, so here are a few tips to make your preparation go smoothly.
1) Pick your passage, not necessarily your point
When you begin preparing for a Bible study, most people begin with a main point they want to communicate. This is good to have and good study will leave you with a main point, but it is important that you let your passage determine what your points are. Beginning with a main idea and trying to find a passage that fits it may cause you to misinterpret a passage that is really trying to talk about something else. Instead, find a passage that really speaks to you or that directly addresses something you wish to say. Bible teachers must remain faithful to the text, so let the Word of God do the speaking for you.
2) Read your passage many times and in many translations
A good way to begin your study is to read the passage many times. Not only do you become familiar with the passage, but also you let the passage work its way into your heart and mind. This will allow key concepts to ring in your head throughout the time of your preparation. In your reading, try using various versions of the Bible that you know you can trust. While I do my teaching using the NLT, I try to always read my passage in NKJV, ESV, and NASB. This process helps you isolate the concepts of the passage from the particular phrasing of your passage. This will give you a very robust, well-rounded view of your passage.
3) Develop your own ideas before using study tools
Many great study tools are just an internet connection away for the modern teacher. Websites such as blb.org and studylight.org are filled with great commentaries, original language tools, and sermon notes that will help you find what others have said about your passage. While this is very helpful, it can become a crutch if you use them first as you may simply rely on them. Craft your own ideas first before checking other resources to see if you have gone off track.
4) Pray yourself hot
Teaching the Bible is a spiritual activity and must therefore be done by the power of God’s spirit. Hopefully, your preparation has you knowledgeable about your passage and confident in the direction your teaching will take. Even so, your ultimate trust needs to be in the fact that God wants to speak through you. Pray often for your message, your audience, and your own heart throughout your study time.
Preparing Bible studies can be hard work, but when done well, they can lead to great times of teaching where your mind is more free to read your audience, think on the fly, and make necessary adjustments during your teaching. You’ll find that the more you teach, the more refined you get in your study. Have fun with it and trust that the God of the Bible wants to work through the teaching of the Bible.