Bible Class Archive: 1000 Free Bible Study Lessons, Over 3000 Pages of Free Material

I haven’t mentioned the Bible Class Archive in a long while. It is a page on the blog where I compile many of the lessons for Bible class and small groups that I have written over the years. I have also included some of my co-laborers in the kingdom in the collaborative process and have added in their lessons as well. So if you haven’t ever been on that page of this blog, have a look…

Bible Class Archive

To date, over 70,000 pdf’s have been downloaded! I intend to add more material very soon.

Eight Rules for Beginners Reading the Bible

Rule #1: Start with something that is easy to understand/easily applicable and work toward the books that are harder.
– NT: James, Gospel of Mark
– OT: Psalms, Proverbs & Genesis

Rule #2: Be regular/consistent.

Rule #3: Don’t read for quantity, read for quality. Reading the Bible through in a year is great but does little if you don’t learn anything, change anything, or draw closer to God based on what you read.

Rule #4: Read to understand, understand to apply. Learning information by itself isn’t the point. Application is the point. But you first have to understand what it says before you know what to do with it.

Rule #5: Prayer – Ask God for wisdom, insight and understand.

Rule #6: Realize up front that not all your conclusions will be valid – talk with someone you trust, ask questions and compare your findings with other scriptures to try to determine what is right.

Rule #7: When you run into difficulty, don’t go straight to a commentary for help. Wrestle with it on your own for a while first. Commentators are people too and they can make mistakes.

Rule #8: Not everything in the Bible is written for the same reason. Some writings are poetic and some are laws. Some are for instruction and others are general good advice. Not everything in the Bible is a command from God.

What advice would you add?

Troubleshooting: Bible Class Structure

Hebrews 5:11-6:3 says,

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”

In a world that is less and less “churched” there is certainly a large number of people who will come through the door and need to be taught the basics. Do we make any effort to reach them where they are or do we just allow them to fall into a random hodge-podge of Bible classes that may not even be close to what they actually need? Then there are the “mature” Christians who have attended hundreds, if not thousands of services. Are they moving along in their maturity? Or are they still going around and around on the basics? I sometimes wonder if the class structure of the typical church has considered any of these things and what things might look like if we did a superb job of meeting people where they are at (whether mature or brand new) and helping them grow from there.

Does your class structure have any of that built in or is it random based on the whims and desires of whoever is available to teach at the moment?

Wednesday Night Outreach Class – Try This Out

Every Wednesday we have a group of people who get together to do coordinate outreach. This is not a class about how to do outreach or a Bible study on what outreach is about, why we should do it, etc. We do have some of that from time to time but that is not what this class is about. This class is about people taking action to reach out to others. I want to lay our class outline out so maybe someone out there can pick this up and do this elsewhere. I have written about our process in coming up with this at other times. You can see that here.

I have prepared a class template so you guys can take this and run with it. This has taken a while to develop and has been tweaked over the last few months to a point where I think it is easily transferable to other churches.  You can download the template below.

Church Steps Class Template

Bible study (15 minutes)
We start with a short Bible study that has something to do with outreach. We have talked about everything from the gifts of Ephesians 4 to the Great commission of Matthew 28. This is a time of informing and sharpening. At first it was a time of motivating but over time we realized that if someone is coming to this class, we are beyond motivation…they are ready to do something.

The four questions (25 minutes)

  1. What good things can we celebrate that has happened in our outreach this past week?
  2. Who do you know who we can reach out to?
  3. What efforts can we make this week to reach out to people?
  4. Who can you invite into this outreach ministry to do some work?

We ask these four questions for a couple of reasons. The most important reason is that we have people we are trying to reach out to and we just need to connect them with someone who wants to do it. Second, we realize there are people they know who we don’t and we need those names so we can pray for them and start the conversation with people we wouldn’t know about otherwise. Third, this is about changing the culture of the congregation. Once you ask this set of questions 10-15 times people start asking these questions themselves. It becomes a part of who they are, what they do, and how they see themselves ministering to others. The end result is a culture of outreach, new people being discipled and older Christians renewing their own discipleship process.

Following that last question, I have a list of names and contact information that I cut out into strips of paper that I hand out as assignments. These names come from a few places:

  1. Sunday morning visitors – If we have new people on Sunday they go on this list and are assigned to someone to contact
  2. Church Steps class – Each week as people mention others they want to reach out to we compile an organized list of names that we continue to bring up and pray over.

People volunteer to contact each person who we are reaching out to in order to help them get better connected at Northwest. So I start handing out slips of paper with names, contact info and any specific action items that need to be done for that person (invitation to class/LIFE group, encouragement if we know of a special situation, etc). That makes the contact less generic and more meaningful when it happens.

Prayer (5-10 minutes)
Prayer is the most important thing we do in this class. Every week I give out a list of everyone who is going to be contacted that week so we can all be praying for every single one. This is key. We are asking God to use us and asking God to open hearts for the Gospel. They take this home with them every week. So even if someone didn’t get someone to contact they are still praying over this list. We spend the last few minutes of class praying for God to work something good in all of this.

Our goal is to reach lost people and integrate new Christians. We help them feel welcome and get them into a LIFE group, Bible class, or ministry where they can do two things: get to know others and get to know God. Starting in October we are going to have a Wednesday night basics class where we can invite people to come and learn about Christianity. This is going to be an essential piece in us making disciples through our outreach and our Steps class will naturally feed people into it on an ongoing basis.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about all of this. One of the things that I love most about it is that it has few moving parts. The more complicated something gets the more likely it is to break. Make it simple, repeatable and celebrate it when it goes well and good things begin to happen and it is sustainable. Too many of our ministries fizzle out because we go to one of two extremes: have no plan so nothing happens or have a plan that is so complicated that no one can do it or maintain it. Simplicity is key!

Feedback?

Updated Jesus 101 Study

I have made revisions to the Jesus 101 study and wanted to let you know that and post the new pdf. This is the evangelistic study of Mark that we put together here at Northwest so that we can start getting more people engaged in Bible study with non-Christians. So far this study has been downloaded 140 times since I posted it last month with an additional 80 requests from the Spiritual Growth Workshop that I sent out via email yesterday! We have given out over 200 hard copies as well!

Bible class archive
Also, an update on the Bible class archive. This is a place where I gather Bible class and small group lessons from a bunch of talented guys and post it for others to download for free. We just broke the 3000 lesson mark! There have been over 55,000 pdf downloads so far! If you are using any of these lessons I would love to get feedback. It is always an encouragement to hear from someone who has used these lessons and were blessed by them.

Writing Material So Others Can Use It – 10 Suggestions

I am always in pursuit of new Bible curriculum to post in the Small Group Lessons and Bible Class Archive here on the blog. I have approached quite a few people trying to get them to submit something. Most people don’t write lessons so that they can be used by others. Some of you guys probably even just scratch everything down on a notepad and go and do an excellent job that way. Others write it in a way that it only makes sense to them. No one else can just pick it up and go. That is natural. It is important to write your lessons (if you do that sort of thing) in a way that you can teach it to the best of your ability.

It is important to consider the good that can come from formatting your lessons and their flow in a way that others can pick it up and use it as well. I no longer write a lesson for it to get taught once. I write them with other teachers in mind because I don’t want it to get used one time. One reason I do that is because I have to. Some of the lessons I write are for our small groups so I am forced to write it in a way they can all teach it with ease. In addition to that though, it is important to me that if I am going to spend all that time studying that my class is not the only one to benefit from it. It is like multiplication…you write it once and it gets used hundreds or in some cases even thousands of times. That is good stewardship. I don’t say that in any judgment of those who do otherwise whatsoever.

Here are some thing to consider when writing lessons so others can use them:

  1. Give suggested answers on tough questions. Nothing worse than teaching a lesson and get silence and not know the answer yourself because you are teaching someone else’s material. Give them a few suggestions under the tough questions in bullet points.
  2. Likewise, give definitions for words that are more difficult so that people aren’t missing the point because they don’t understand what is being said. What is more someone may ask what the word means and the teacher is equipped to answer.
  3. Use bold headings when you start a new topic/subtopic in your lesson. If the lesson makes a turn, make it obvious to the teacher.
  4. Bold all scriptures so they stand out. If I want something to be read out loud I will put Read John 3:16-19
  5. Italicize discussion questions. This makes them stand out so that the teacher easily recognizes they are reading a question. Your intonation is different with a question and it gets kind of weird if the teacher starts of reading it as a statement rather than a question.
  6. End with application questions. I will typically put the heading Application at the end followed by a few questions for the group to discuss. It is vitally important that every lesson have clear application.
  7. If there is an exercise you want them to do I either use that instead of an application section or in addition to it.
  8. Put relevant prayer needs that are specific to the lesson at the end if needed or if it fits well
  9. If you are writing it for people you know, encourage them to see it as a guide, not a concrete outline. They know their class best and can make the lesson fit better than anyone else. Give them freedom to adjust the lesson as they see fit.
  10. Send the lessons to me so I can share them with the world here on this blog 🙂

Teaching Eutychus – A Helpful Book for Teachers and Group Leaders by Houston Heflin

Houston Heflin has just put out a book for teachers and small group leaders called Teaching Eutychus. We had Houston do a teaching seminar for us in January and it was excellent. Some of that material is reflected in this book but there is much more to it than that. This book helps you undertstand what it takes to be an effective teacher. He examines the perspective of those who are seeking a deeper faith and what they are looking for in class, in their teachers/group facilitators and how to go about implementing the tools to teach and lead effectively. I don’t think there is anything else out there quite like it.

In addition to adding tools to our teaching toolbox, Houston does an outstanding job discussing the character and integrity of the person of the teacher. He makes some excellent points of the importance of living out what we teach and the importance of integrity and transparency in the process of teaching that are worth the cost of the book alone.

Third, Houston discusses meta-cognition. How do people learn, think, process information and grow from that process. He has a good section on learning styles and how to creatively implement them into your teaching repertoire. I could list the rest of the contents of the book but I would rather you pick it up and read it for yourself. Right now it is just available for kindle/e-readers. If you don’t have one of those you can download one for your PC.

New Curriculum Posted – Living by Faith: Studies in Hebrews 11

I just posted a new small group series called Living by Faith: Studies in Hebrews 11. The study works through the stories of those mentioned in Hebrews 11 and ties us in with them and the ministry of Jesus as well as the early Christian and contemporary martyrs. Have a look…

Living By Faith

That makes the free curriculum posted on this blog: 900 lessons, 3000 pages, and 48,000 pdf downloads! Thanks to everyone who has downloaded and used this material.

The Problems with Video Curriculum in Bible Class

From time to time I have used video curriculum in my teaching. There are some really great ones out there including Faith Lessons with Ray VanderLaan, the Song of Solomon with Tommy Nelson, Nooma with Rob Bell, and a ton of great stuff put out by Northpoint with Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio. Video curriculum has its place in our arsenal of tools for teaching a quality Bible class.

However, there are some drawbacks to these as well.

  1. It gets cost prohibitive to use them for small group study. Imagine having 10,20, or 40 small groups and having to purchase 40 copies of the same DVD at $15 each for all your groups just to be used once.
  2. It limits your discussion time. You get a master teacher in the room at a low cost. Those are good things. But often videos run 30 minutes or longer and leave you with a list of six or seven things to discuss in the remaining few minutes. The meat of a Bible class is not in listening to the teacher. The meat is reflecting on God’s Word and having time to discuss what it means and what we are to do about it. Videos often don’t leave time for the most important part of the class.
  3. If the class teacher/leader has a great deal of credibility, those in the class would probably rather hear the lesson coming from someone they know and respect rather than from a stranger, even a very gifted stranger.
  4. Credibility – there is not an automatic connection with the class from someone they don’t know. Often speakers use humor and things like that to engage people they don’t know. If you teach regularly and have a relationship with the class you don’t have to cut through all that on the front end and that opens up more time to get into the meat of the class. I have heard some guys do a 20 minute intro to a class just to get people’s attention before really diving in. That can get ridiculous.
  5. It is passive. We are trying to engage people and make them active participants in growing their own faith. Video curriculum makes the class passive observers. It isn’t interactive. We don’t want people to become the audience. That is what happens when you show a video.

Video curriculum can be great when used in small quantities. But don’t rely on it. Don’t allow it to become a crutch.

New Series Posted – Basics of Christianity

Just posted a new lesson series on the Basics of Christianity. This is a 16 lesson series (could easily be condensed to 13) covering 49 pages. This brings the Bible lessons posted here on the blog to nearly 900 lessons, 3000 pages and 42k downloads.