Whether you’re writing a Bible study for others to teach or teaching one yourself, good “Teacher’s Notes” are essential.
They help us meet the goal: to challenge students to think more deeply in Scripture and to understand and apply biblical truth for life change.
First, I want to get the attention of my students with a good “hook.” For example, in a study on servanthood, I began with the following story: "While serving in a tiny clinic in Nepal, a nurse commonly witnessed an elderly missionary doctor tenderly carrying his patients to awaiting beds after surgery. She also said, 'It was not unusual for him to wash bedpans.'" Then I asked the question: How is this story an example of true servanthood?
Next, I write the answers to my questions. This is important as it helps me determine if each question really brings out the point I want to make. I may find I have to rewrite a question so the students will reach the desired answer.
Once I’m confident that all the questions and answers match, I often add to the answer an additional verse or passage from my studies that provides more information. I also use information from the sources I mentioned in Blog #2 to help students grasp deeper meaning. For example: When teaching Psalm 23 about the Lord as our Shepherd, it’s helpful to know the characteristics of sheep. If you understand the needs of sheep, you comprehend from the passage the care and effort taken by the shepherd to meet the needs of His flock. The picture of Christ as your Shepherd becomes more precious.
Sometimes, I add a visual illustration. For example: I suggest that the teacher show a sponge and two bowls of water, one clean and one dirty. They should tell the students to think of their hearts as a sponge that can be plunged into a spring of pure water or a pool of filthy water. Then ask: When you squeeze the ‘sponge,’ what would come out of it? What happens to the clean sponge full of spring water when it’s dipped into filthy water?
At times I add an example from my own life to illustrate a point. I discovered the worth of sharing transparently when teaching women’s Sunday School. When I revealed my own difficulties and struggles with scriptural truth, I gained a connection with the women that enabled me to teach the Word and its application with profound effect.
In John 15:5, Jesus said, “...apart from me you can do nothing.” I take from that verse that with Him, I can do anything He wills for me to do. Honestly, I admit that I was never trained to be a writer. And I’m glad, because anything I write comes from the empowering of God–and my wonderful editors: Howard Lisech, Jan Harris, and Barb Snyder.
I want to encourage you with the words Elizabeth Elliot used to challenge me many years ago. When I shared my passion to write Bible studies, she said, “Bonnie, just do it!”
[Editor's note: Thank you, Bonnie and Jan! This is their last post. Dear readers, if you have benefitted from their expertise, why not take a minute to comment.]