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4 More Ways to Get People Talking in Your Bible Study...This Week!

In last month’s issue of Teach the Word, we saw four ways for getting dialogue flowing in your Bible study. Here are four more tips:Teach the Word

1.  Give them choices—Give your groups or pairs options from which to choose.Participants will usually choose what they are most interested in and will likely be more willing to discuss those things with others.

  • Example: One of the most comforting pictures the Bible uses to describe Jesus is that he is our Good Shepherd. In groups of three to four people (or on your own if you prefer), select one of the following activities to accomplish in the next six minutes:
    1. Your friend has just lost a spouse and you want to help during this difficult time. You have found an article that you think would be helpful for your friend to read. Read the provided article from Forward in Christ. Have your group choose five key truths in the article about the Good Shepherd that you think would help your grieving friend.
    2. Read John 10:11-18 and Psalm 23. Compare these two sections of Scripture that describe the Lord as our Shepherd. Write down the similarities and the differences between the two. In what situation could you see using Psalm 23 instead of John 10? In what situation could you see using John 10 instead of Psalm 23?
    3. Look at these four paintings of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Name two strengths and two weaknesses of each picture in teaching that Jesus is our Good Shepherd.
    4. On your own, sketch out how you picture Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Compare your drawing with sketches others drew of the Good Shepherd. Explain what you want to teach by your sketch.

2.  Silence and reflection—Giving time to think helps people process and engage in a dialogue … with themselves. Having your participants take one minute to mull over a question you posed to them and then write down their thoughts allows them time to work through it on their own. Some also learn better in silence. At the end of this example, I’ve added a “pair-and-share” opportunity, but that’s optional.

  • Example: John asks that we love one another and that we walk in love (2 John 5,6). There is a temptation for Christians to view their church in the same way they view their neighborhood gas station—a place to fill up, wipe your windows, get a snack, and move on, totally oblivious to the other people who are there. On your own, take one minute to finish the following sentence in two ways, expressing how our God would want you to view your church:

“Knowing that we are to love one another and walk in love, my church is a place where we …."

After you have your two sentence endings, share your responses with the person next to you.

3.  Make it relevant—We want to talk about things that are important in our Christian lives right now, and we want to learn more about those things that matter to us. In your discussion questions and learning activities help them to see in a section of Scripture things like: the law crushes proud hearts; the gospel soothes repentant souls; God lovingly guides us how to live; Jesus promises his presence, protection, and help.

  • Example: In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul directs us to imitate our God, live as God’s family members, and live always in the sphere of agape love (selfless, self-giving, unselfish, choosing to love even when the other is being “unlovable”), in the same way Jesus showed agape love to us as he sacrificed himself for us.  Now in Ephesians 5:3-7, Paul shows us that if we are to be imitating our God, here is what we are to avoid when it comes to sexual sins. In groups of three to four people (or on your own if you prefer), use these verses to demonstrate five dangers of sexual sins and how a Christian will be blessed by avoiding those sins.

4.  Switch them around—Instead of having people sit in the same spot for 50 minutes, have them stand up and move to another table. New faces with new experiences can bring new interests and dialogue. Remember that having people stand or move after 20-25 minutes can also serve as a “reset” in their learning.  In the example below, studying Ephesians 5:21-33, the roles of wives and husbands, the leader wanted to have the men work together and the women work together in listing ways that each gender is to carry out their respective roles. This would then allow the men to hear the women’s insight, and vice versa.

  • Example:  It used to be in WELS churches that men sat on one side of the church and women sat on the other side of the church. Reenact this old custom, now fallen by the wayside....  Look at Ephesians 5:22-24,33b. God is giving a role of submissive helper to wives. Remember that means she is putting the needs of her husband ahead of her own. In groups of three to four people, (or on your own if you prefer),
    • List five examples of how a wife carries out her role as submissive helper for her husband.
    • At times a wife might find herself tempted to stray away from her role and God-given responsibility. List three encouragements you would give to a wife in order for her to be renewed and refreshed to carry out her role.
[The group would then hear how the women and men groups responded to these activities. After this question, the women and men groups worked through similar activities about the roles of husbands.]