Bible Class Archive – More Additions

The Bible Class Archive of free Bible class curriculum stands at 999 pages and over 300 lessons! I just added a new lesson series in from Tim Archer on his book Letters from the Lamb. I will also be adding in several lesson series in the coming weeks by David Chadwell of the West-Ark Church of Christ. He has produced a very large quantity of quality lessons and has gracefully and generously given me permission to reproduce them here.

If you have material you would like to submit email it to me on attachment or send a link and I will be glad to review it.

If you have a moment, have a look at David’s website. It is filled with quality material including Bible class material, sermons, and much more.


Where Do You Get Your Bible Class Material?

For those of you who teach or are in ministry I am curious where you get your Bible class material from:

  1. Do you typically write it from scratch, adapt the work of others or purchase curriculum?
  2. If you purchase it, where do you usually buy it from (which website or brick and mortar store).
  3. What purchased materials have you found to be excellent?
  4. How much do you typically pay pay for a decent set of lessons (paper/book vs video curriculum)?

The Sweet Spot of Preaching and Teaching

If you remember back to Psychology 101 there was a term called the “Zone of Proximal Development” that boils down to an ideal zone of learning. If you try to teach someone by telling them things they already know they won’t get much from it. If you go way over their head and teach things they aren’t ready for you will lose them. But there is a zone right in the middle that is just beyond their current knowledge and ability that they can stretch to. That is the “sweet spot” of preaching and teaching. Aim too low and you miss. Aim too high and you miss.

A steady diet at either end of the spectrum can result in problems. Going too shallow can result in perpetual baby Christians whose roots aren’t as deep as they should be. Going too deep leaves people lost, confused and then board. Either way people will bail on you. If I am not careful I often assume people know more than they do and put parts of the lesson just out of reach of some in the room. That is something I am working on. Craig Groeschel posted two excellent articles on going too deep or too shallow. Worth the read…

Too Deep

Too Shallow

Do you struggle with either of these? What has been  helpful to you in finding balance?

Bible Class Archive Now Active

A new tab has been included at the top of the blog called “Bible Class Archive“. This is a place we will be posting Bible classes and studies free of charge. I have already included several studies and will be adding more over the next few weeks. I also expect to get submissions for those of you who teach and write your own curriculum. If you would like to submit your material send it on attachment to my email and I will post it in pdf –

I also hope this will be a resource for Christians outside the United States. I get a lot of requests for material from people in India and Africa. Now we will have a place to point them when they request material to be sent as they can download and print this material free of charge. See the Bible Class Archive for more details and feel free to submit any studies you would like to see included. The Small Group Lesson page is also still active although there will be some overlap between the two.

So far there are lessons on Acts, Romans, Philemon and James. Send your lessons in .doc or .pdf and they will be uploaded.

Would You Be Interested in a Bible Class Archive?

Many of us prepare Bible classes on a regular basis. Once they are taught they sit on our computers for years with the majority never to be viewed again. Why not make those resources available to Christians all over the world and benefit many more people in the process. A typical Bible class may impact 30 people. Why not let it live on and potentially effect hundreds more by posting it online? For instance, I post the majority of LIFE group/Small group lessons I produce totally free of charge. Those lessons impact people here in the congregation I attend but since they have been posted online as well they have been downloaded over 10,000 times. What a difference! Those could have sat dormant on my computer for years never to see the light of day. Instead they continue to make a difference all over the world. I periodically get emails from people saying thank you for these materials. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

Here is where you come in. I am considering adding a page to the blog where you can submit your completed Bible class curriculum so that it can be posted in an organized and accessible manner. But first I want to see if any of you would be interested in taking part in this as it depends on people sending their material for this to be worthwhile. You would get credit by including whatever information you like in a footnote at the bottom of each page (name, email, url, congregation, etc – whatever you choose). Everything would be converted to pdf to be uploaded.

Please comment below if you would be interested in participating.

The Benefits of Taking a Break from Bible Class Teaching

It is very important for Bible class teachers, even ministers on staff, to have a break from time to time. At least one quarter a year for paid ministers and two quarters a year for those not on staff need to be spent learning from others. For the first time in several years I am not teaching on Sunday morning and it is very refreshing. I am getting my cup filled and wake up with quite a different perspective on Sunday’s this quarter. There are benefits to both the teacher and the class when teachers are also educated by others. This time away from teaching on Sunday has allowed me to reflect on a few things I would like to share here.

Benefits to the Bible class of a teacher rotation:

  1. Multiple perspectives – It is important that people get a variety of perspectives from mature teachers.
  2. Teaching styles – When a class is blessed to have a teacher rotation they are more likely to get a wider variety of teaching styles and approaches. One teacher my be a great lecturer but struggle with discussion while another might fear having to lecture but be skilled at getting the class talking. It is important for the class to experience a variety of teachers
  3. Learning styles – Different teachers have different styles and often those styles can incorporate a variety of learning styles. This is far more likely to happen when a class has multiple teachers.
  4. Connecting with the WHOLE class – Different teachers connect with different class members. When you have multiple teachers it is far more likely that people in the class will connect with at least one of them and get more from the class.
  5. Range of topics – With a variety of teachers you are likely to get a wider range of expertise. When you only learn from one teacher all the time it is likely they get on the same soap boxes and pet issues from time to time. This is minimized with multiple teachers.
  6. Benefiting from the overflow – When one teacher teaches the same class for years at a time it is likely they will feel drained and as if they have little more to offer from time to time. By default they continue to teach because that is what is expected of them. Multiple teachers allow the teachers to teach from the overflow and not from the position of being drained and burned out.
  7. Teaching experience – Allowing others to teach gives other class members experience teaching which often results in them growing in their faith and knowledge. If we have control issues and think we are the only one’s capable of teaching we are missing out on equipping others and make the class dependent on ourselves for its spiritual sustenance. That is not healthy.

Benefits to the Bible class teacher of a teacher rotation:

  1. Benefiting from the overflow – Teachers need to have energy and the only way to have that is to be fresh and ready to teach. Teaching continuously for years on end often results in burn out and that often results in lackluster teaching. Teachers need to be taught. They also need education and a break from the Sunday or Wednesday Bible class teaching scene.
  2. Retooling 1 – When a teacher sees another person teach from time to time they can see how the class responds both positively and negatively to teaching methods. They learn what to do and not to do based on being a participant in someone else’s class.
  3. Retooling 2 – Being taught also results in the teacher getting their cup filled so they can teach from the overflow.
  4. Learning from someone else’s perspective – We need to learn that other people have a good perspective on things and that we are not the sole source of wisdom in a congregation. That often takes taking a step back and allowing someone else to take the lead.
  5. Getting refocused – If you are used to teaching every week it is really quite refreshing to be able to go to Bible class with Bible in hand, ready to learn. The pressure is off and that is healthy.
  6. Creating a sustainable Bible class or ministry – If we want something to fall apart it is imperative that it completely rely on one person to be successful. If we want something to be sustainable it is imperative that we allow other people to take ownership in the process. A Bible class should never depend on one person to exist. If we aren’t growing sustainable ministries and classes then we are spinning our wheels.

Hopefully a few of these have been helpful to you if you are a Bible class teacher, elder, minister, etc. Last, it is important to realize if there are control issues when it comes to who is teaching and how often. It is unhealthy for anyone to think it all depends on them or that no one else is able to teach or get the job down as well as they can. It is far more important for a ministry or Bible class to be sustainable than for it to rely on the control issues of someone who thinks it should all depend on them.

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Today I noticed a link to this blog coming from a College in Hong Kong. The professor linked to this article on inductive and deductive teaching for his class on Teaching Strategies. I think that is exciting that some of his students are finding the blog through that link and what is more, the examples given in that post are about proving Jesus is the Messiah inductively vs. deductively. Hopefully that will make an impact on people on the other side of the planet. God works in ways beyond our comprehension or imagination and I am so thankful for that.

Please pray that those who read that post hoping to learn how the inductive and deductive teachings methods work might learn something about Jesus Christ that would lead them toward becoming a Christian.

How Do You Motivate Once Guilt is Removed?

People still think of the Sunday morning service as the “have to” part of Christianity. There is no doubt about it in my mind. Why else would many churches only get 30-50% return, if that, on Wednesday night?

Things that have led to our current situation:

  1. The motivation of guilt is being removed. Some used to attend every time the doors were opened because they continuously heard from the pulpit the sin of forsaking the assembly of the saints. We concluded that it wasn’t a sin leading to the fires of hell if you missed a Wednesday night Bible study or “Sunday lite”  service that people stopped coming. If the guilt wasn’t present people didn’t have a reason to come.
  2. Grace in place of guilt. We have moved toward a grace-oriented approach. God is able to deal with our shortcomings and since we show up on Sunday, surely he can deal with us missing a time or two on Wednesday, Sunday night, or any other special occasion. Because we reemphasized God as loving and grateful many had their one reason for coming when the doors were opened removed and a new reason to come wasn’t put back in its place. So they stay home.
  3. Excuses – Sunday night is family night…surely that is just as important as being at the building. I know one family that has Sunday night as laundry night and so they don’t come. That is pretty lame in my book. If it is important to you, you will show up. That leads us to the next point.
  4. Cultural shifts. People are no longer brand loyal. They may even go to several different churches in a given week for various services, prayer meetings, men’s or women’s classes, etc.

People need a reason to come that is still grace-centered!

Grace-centered reasons to be at church when the doors are opened:

  1. God is graceful enough to surround us with a community of faith and it is up to us to take initiative to be around that community in a meaningful and productive way.
  2. We get to be here…we should want to! Why? Not because you feel guilty if you miss or that you might be punished and better come forward for missing Wednesday night. You should want to be where your brothers and sisters in Christ are because they are important to God and so they should be important to you.
  3. Jesus said the world will know He was sent from God if we have unity with each other (John 17:23). What better way to show it than to show up!
  4. We have a desire to learn. How better to learn than among the community of faith. If we desire to grow in our knowledge of God we would want to be in Bible class. That assumes our Bible classes are of the quality that people feel they are beneficial. That may be a point to consider when attendance is struggling. Are we really meeting needs here or are we just getting together because that is what we have always done? It may be time to step up the quality of your Bible classes and also reemphasize their purposes in front of the congregation to encourage people to come.
  5. We all need love and support. Many people are isolated and lonely today. Being with other Christians, especially in Bible class and small group settings are extremely beneficial to encourage and help the hurting.
  6. We are hungry. If you are hungry and the dinner bell rings, you will be at the table without any arm twisting, guilting, or fear of punishment required. Why? Because you want to be there and it meets a need that you realize if you don’t get you will eventually die. Are you/we hungry enough to come?

A Bible Study Most People Can Stick With

We talk a lot about studying the Bible but how frequently do we give people accessible options to make it a habit? There are 80 posts on this blog that deal with studying the Bible in some way, shape or form. We have classes on all the proper “how to’s”…how to read a psalm or how to study a Gospel. But most people walk away with lots of “how to” knowledge but little actual doing. The normal track that I have seen people take is to encourage personal Bible study by trying to read through the Bible in a year. That is a great thing to do and anyone over the age of 12 should be able to complete it if they are motivated enough. But in reality most people don’t.

So what can we do to make Bible study more accessible and habit forming? I think it is important to regularly put things in the hands of Bible students that is on their level, relevant, biblical, and brief. I say those things specifically because I think there are a couple of typical barriers people face to studying the Bible. People bail if:

  • The study is over their head – so make it simple
  • The study is irrelevant – so make is practical
  • The study just seems to be pop-psychology with little bigger picture meaning of what it has to do with our relationship with God – so make it biblical
  • The study is so long that people won’t make time for it – so make it brief

It is important that we recognize the barriers that keep people from making personal daily Bible study a habit and put something in their hands that is basically barrier free and gets them right to the text in a way that is meaningful and applicable.

Our solution:

  1. Pick a book of the Bible (we picked James – download it from this post)
  2. Break the book down into chunks that you can write a one page study on (again see the James study for an example)
  3. Write up brief study guides that are emailed to your target group/Bible class on a regular basis (at least 3/week)
  4. Follow up/accountability – see if anyone is doing it and encourage them to do so.

This probably takes someone on staff to accomplish unless you have some really dedicated people to put this together. We are hoping to work through the entire New Testament outside of Bible class in this manner and I will keep you updated through the Small Group Lessons page on the blog. Hopefully through this we can get more people making a habit out of studying the Bible. I truly believe that the Word of God has the power to transform lives but it takes us getting motivated to study and actually doing so rather than just talking about it. If you aren’t studying the Bible on a regular basis challenge and encourage you to take on the study of James and follow along with us through future studies.

Living Out Application In Bible Class

Last night we had the best men’s class that I can remember. I don’t know if it is a coincidence but it was also the men’s class that I did the least talking! Maybe I can learn something from that. We had Tom Hagan from Mt. Dora Christian Home and Bible School stop by and encourage us as well as inform us about what is going on at Mt. Dora. We also had been discussing Romans 16 the previous week and how Paul was giving honor and encouragement to people in the church. It is such a different kind of chapter to teach because on first glance it seems to just be a list of names. So we put it into practice, live. We went around the room and offered encouraging words of honor and praise to the different men in the class. After an hour we had only covered half the men in the class so we will continue this next week too.

There were a couple of unexpected lessons that came out of this experience. We learned things about people from what others said about them that we would have never known otherwise. It was also mentioned that it raised awareness that we don’t know everyone in our class and that made them want to get to know each other even better. Even if you weren’t the one receiving praise and encouragement, it really made you feel good to be there and hear all those kind words.

It was a great change of pace because we did more than discuss a text or share thoughts and opinions on a particular subject or verse. Something happened. Something happened in that room that has never happened before in our class. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the best I can sum it up is that application was lived out. It wasn’t talked about. We didn’t have a bunch of “How does this verse change your life this week?” type questions. Application actually happened right before our eyes. I can tell you that I want some more of that!

Wouldn’t it be something if we actually encouraged each other more than just read verses that tell us that is what we are supposed to be doing?