How preparing a Bible study is like eating an elephant

September 23, 2016

It is Saturday evening and your Sunday morning Bible study that you lead and teach is in just a few hours and you do not know the lesson topic or the core scripture passage. You have what seems like an elephant to eat as you prepare for your small group. I’ve been there and even now sense those feelings of anxiety questioning: Why did I wait so long to begin preparing? Then, that tinge of doubt surfaces. You begin thinking that maybe you need to just give this up. You do not have the time to prepare and there has to be someone better to lead your small group. They deserve better.

You are familiar with the answer to the question about how you eat an elephant…one bite at a time. This is a truth that applies to your preparation to teach a Bible study. To avoid the elephant the night before your small group meeting, you chomp away at him in small bites over the course of time. You take one bit today, another tomorrow and a third bite the next day, a little bit each day, so that when the time comes to share God’s truth with your small group you have progressively prayed, studied, searched, and meditated over God’s Word. You are confident the Spirit has prepared you to deliver His truth.

To avoid the elephant the night before your small group meeting, you chomp away at him in small bites over the course of time.

Here are seven steps (bites of the elephant) offered to help you prepare to teach and avoid those anxious moments the evening before your small group gathering. These steps are obvious and are shared to encourage you more than enlighten you.

  1. Begin
    The simple truth in anything we do is take the first step; begin. Begin your preparation the day following your group’s regular meeting. If you teach a Sunday school class then Monday is the day you begin. Set aside time each day to spend preparing for your group. With a busy schedule, you probably need to calendar this time or you may add several minutes to your existing daily quiet time or devotion time.
  2. Pray
    Prayer is part of every step of your preparation and your teaching session. Prayer is the conduit to the power of the Spirit as He works in our life for the glory of God. Pray constantly the Sprit will work by opening your eyes and ears to see and hear His truth, opening your memory of scripture, experiences and stories and preparing your group to receive the truth of God’s Word that will transform their life.
  3. Share
    Throughout the week, as you study, talk about the truths the Lord has revealed to you through His Word. Engage your spouse, children, friends, co-workers or group members in conversation about these truths. Listen to them for their insights or stories, with their permission, that you might share with your group.
  4. Study
    Begin your study of the focal passage the day after your group meets. For the first days of your preparation (Monday to Wednesday) just study the passage. In an attitude of prayer, read the key verses looking for the theological principles of the passage. Choose a Bible to study that provides cross references to other verses that help us understand the fullness of scripture. Jot down notes of key words or truths you begin to see in the passage. You are seeking to understand the original meaning to the author and the recipients and how that meaning is applied to your life, the lives of your group members and our culture today. Include the surrounding verses in your study so you see the passage in context of the flow of scripture.When you begin to have a sense of the truths of the passage, consult other sources to help you grow in understanding the passage. Use the commentary included in your leader guide for your curriculum. There are many online sources that have available commentaries and other helps. Use these resources to answer your questions, define key words and phrases and continue to grow your understanding of the passage.
  5. Organize
    Because you began the day after your last group meeting and you have for the last few days prayed, studied and talked to others about the passage you have been studying, you are in a great place to begin organizing your teaching session. This gives you the next several days to continue your study while you begin to plan and organize you teaching session.The leader material for your group is the first place to begin. Study the direction and the suggestions made for leading your teaching time with your group. Change, remove or add your own techniques for delivering the truths you have spent several days mediating, praying and studying.
  6. Deliver
    With confidence in the work of the Spirit as you have prayed and invested time over several days preparing, you guide your group through your lesson plan and deliver life changing truths of God’s Word to them.
  7. Evaluate
    This process not only helps your group learn and grow as a disciple of Christ but you also grow in God’s call to join Him in making disciples. This growth is enhanced when we evaluate our life. As you begin preparing for your groups next session, spend time evaluating your last study time and group time seeking direction for improvement and growth.

Following a system of daily preparation to share God’s Word with your group will calm those anxious elephant moments of feeling ill prepared one day (bite) at a time.


by Lee Childs  
/  Executive Pastor  /  First Baptist Church of Garner

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