Friday, September 14, 2018

EDUCATION: Leading Adult Bible Study

I've posted before on adult Bible study in a post called It's Not What You Teach - It's How You Teach and another called A Sage on the Stage?  They are full of information about adults and learning and tips about teaching adults. Then I went to a few adult Bible studies at my church and realized that the people teaching my classes had not read those two posts. It's not funny to respond in a way that makes people not want to participate. It's not engaging to ask questions and be met with silence because nobody can answer them or are so obvious everybody knows the answer. Asking questions that promote discussion is a skill that can be learned. I love the people teaching the classes, don't get me wrong, but how did we get to this place in the church where adult Bible study can be painful to sit through and yet we still don't do anything different?

There are a few things that typically go wrong when facilitating adult Bible study.
  • Leaders prepare slides and read them. 
  • Leaders just talk while participants sit and listen. 
  • Leaders ask questions that stifle discussion. 
  • Leaders aren't sure how to stimulate discussion. 
  • Leaders are afraid of the questions participants might ask. 
  • Leaders unknowingly respond to questions or comments in a way that makes people not want to participate. 
In response to my previous posts and this one, I created a document that can be given to those who lead/facilitate adult Bible study in the church. It's called Tips for Teaching Adults. Unfortunately, I can't keep giving everything away for free, so it's available for a mere $4.50 and you can copy it as many times as you need to. Please share it with those who volunteer to teach adults at your church. It will encourage them and give them confidence. You'll find a sample of the whole booklet here


Send to Email:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

LUTHERAN SCHOOLS: Morning Meeting Anyone?

I know a number of elementary teachers who use Responsive Classroom's Morning Meeting to start the day. It's a great way to start on a positive note and it helps focus students. Lutheran school teachers may start out with devotions and a prayer. The devotions are usually a short story from a devotion book. But what if we could adapt the Morning Meeting to a Lutheran/Christian school? Well, that's just what I did.

The photo is small, but you can download it here.



Monday, September 10, 2018

EDUCATION: DIscussion Strategy #2

One of the most effective learning strategies is discussion. It gets people interacting with the material, asking questions about the material, and hearing multiple opinions. We often forget that academic discussion needs to be structured and facilitated. Most adults have experienced discussion as a teacher/facilitator talking and asking questions while a few outspoken students respond. This is not effective discussion. What you want is to have students discuss while you listen, observe, and consider next steps. Here is another way to get more out of your discussion. Again, the success of these strategies is dependent on the size and age of your class. Some of these are great for adults too, but they're not used to them. They're not used to discussion. I LOVE doing this activity in Youth Bible class and it can go on for weeks!!

Bring Your Catechism

Have students sit in groups of 3 or 4 and have each group choose a name (or just give them a number, but kids, you know, they like to name their groups). They are going to respond to some questions that a non-believer might ask. Have the questions prepared in advance and have them in a can or jar or hat that you can pull them out of randomly. Give each group one question that they will ask another group. In their final response, each group is required to have at least 2 Bible verses to support their response. They may discover that the questions and answers in the back of the catechism are very helpful.

Round 1:  Each group receives a question and spends time coming up with a good answer. It MUST be in their own words and have 2 supporting Bible verses.

Some questions might be:
  • Why doesn't the church down the street baptize babies? 
  • Why are babies baptized if they haven't sinned yet?
  • If God is love, what's wrong with being gay? 
  • Why doesn't God like gay people? 
  • Why doesn't your church have women pastors? 
  • Why can't my friends go to communion with me? 
  • If we're all saved then why do we need to follow the commandments?
  • Why do Catholics confess to a priest and we don't?
  • If God knows everything, why do we have to confess our sins at all? 
  • Why should I pray?
(If you really want to challenge them, do the same thing with questions atheists ask.)

Give 5-10 minutes for students to come up with an answer for their question.

Round 2:  After each group gives their answer, let the other groups add points or ideas to their answer.

Round 3:  Let each group pick a different question and answer it based on what they learned.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

ALL SAINTS DAY: Children's Message


This is so good I need to REPOST!


All Saints Day will be coming up pretty quickly. We're talking about all the saints who have gone before us and we have a number of pretty young children who don't really understand the ideas of death, saints, and heaven. They're pretty concrete thinkers. So, I suggested to my pastor that he hand out little paper trumpets or kazoos and let the kids celebrate all the people who are in heaven with Jesus and that we will be there with them some day too.

You can add a short Bible verse too, and let the kids walk around a bit playing their horns and shouting the verse or something along the lines of "In God's house there's a room for me!" or, "When we die we go to heaven!" This way, whenever they play the horn or kazoo, hopefully, they'll remember what they said too!

Another option is to get the rest of the congregation involved. Perhaps they could all sing I Sing a Song of the Saints of God and for the last verse the kids could play their horns as the congregation sings.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

H.S. YOUTH: Locker Magnets

This is so good it's time to REPOST!

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ. 

Ever been on Pinterest?  People pin all kinds of inspirational quotes.  Some funny, some serious, and some intresting paraphrases of Bible verses.  We seem to like soundbites and lyrics and slogans.  We remember them and replay them in our minds constantly.  Well, let's take that idea and instead of a poorly paraphrased Bible verse or something out of context, let's give kids the real thing, and since I'm all about finding ways for kids to carry Jesus with them and using Him as their support system, I say, make inspirational locker magnets!  They can give support and encouragement every time a student opens his/her locker throughout the day and soon enough that verse will be stuck in their minds.  Be sure to let them know that if a friend thinks they're cool and wants one that more are available.  Also, try not to let them take popular verses out of context.  Psalms and Proverbs are a great place to start!


 There are many different ways this can be done.  Here are a few:

  • Make them and give them as gifts at the beginning of the school year.
  • Have an event where kids get together to make their own.  Be sure they use real Bible verses (including the reference) and not popular quotes.
  • Develop a few theme verses the kids may like to use and memorize for the semester.  Make large posters for the youth room and locker magnets for the kids. 
  • Make the activity part of a Bible study about keeping the Word close to
    your heart and why it's important to use God's words IN CONTEXT instead of catchy quotes that may be inspiring but may not be Biblical.
Remember that the more often they see God's Word (the magnets) and read them, the better they will remember it later... Brain Rules (John Medina).

Monday, July 30, 2018

EDUCATION: Discussion Strategy #1

One of the most effective learning strategies is discussion. It gets people interacting with the material, asking questions about the material, and hearing multiple opinions. We often forget that academic discussion needs to be structured and facilitated. Most adults have experienced discussion as a teacher/facilitator talking and asking questions while a few outspoken students respond. This is not effective discussion. What you want is to have students discuss while you listen, observe, and consider next steps. Here are a few ways to get more out of your discussion. The success of these strategies is dependent on the size and age of your class. Some of these are great for adults too, but they're not used to them. They're not used to discussion.

Gallery Walk variation 
Write significant questions (read my book, The Art of Teaching Confirmation for more information on significant questions) or thoughtful statements on large post-it notes and place them around the room. The post-its help start discussion, so make sure you ask good questions or make good statements that help guide students to your goals. Remember that the goal is to have discussion, not to write post-it notes.

Round 1
Give each student a few small post-it notes. Have small groups travel around the room reading and responding to the questions on their post-its and post them on the wall next to the questions/statement. Students can ask questions or make comments about what they read.

Round 2
Have students walk around the room again and put a hash mark on questions or comments they want to have answered or talk more about. If they have follow-up questions they can add them too.

The facilitator then can walk around the room and use the students' comments and questions to have table discussion.

Stay tuned for more discussion strategies!

Monday, July 2, 2018

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE: Echo Story

 Free Students Signs Clipart
Oftentimes we use ECHO PRAYERS when we pray with children because they are simple, they use words that the kids can understand, and they help children learn to pray and feel more comfortable praying out loud.  The leader says a short phrase and the kids repeat it.

Developmentally, younger kids LOVE stories.  They learn from a story far more than a stand alone message from an unattached scripture passage out of the pericopes.  Try doing that with Bible stories for a Children's Message.  You can still use whatever theme you're working with that day but instead of an object lesson, which is often lost on young kids, try an ECHO STORY (you can use a children's Bible or any storybook).  Tell the story but have specific places within the story where the kids will repeat a line or answer an echo question.  Here's how it works.

  • QUESTION ECHO - While you share the story, pause to ask simple questions.  "One day a man named Jonah was told by God to go somewhere.  WHO WAS THE MAN?  (Jonah!)  WHO TOLD HIM TO GO?  (God!)  You don't need to ask a question after every single point but you do want to make sure the kids repeat the important parts of the story as that's what they'll remember most.
  • PAUSE TO REPEAT ECHO - While you share the story, pause in specific places to have the kids repeat that line.  "Zacchaeus was a short, rich man and nobody liked him.  He took money from people to give to the government so nobody liked Zacchaeus.  NOBODY LIKED ZACCHAEUS.  He wanted to see Jesus.  Hmmm, what should Zacchaeus do?  He looked around and climbed up a tree to see Jesus.  HE CLIMBED UP A TREE TO SEE JESUS."  You get the idea...  You'll want to make sure these are pretty short and that the lines are kept short enough that the kids can remember them.  You also want to remember that you're telling the story to get a point across so you need to make sure you get your point across in the story and they should be repeating that.
  • REPEAT THE PHRASE ECHO - Tell kids that every time you put your hand to your ear the kids echo a specific phrase or every time you say certain words they echo a specific phrase back to you.  This one works great when trying to get kids to understand something that's complex.  For example, if the basic message is JESUS LOVE EVERYONE and you tell a story about a bunch of mean, sad, ugly, unexpected types of people, every time you put your hand to your ear have the kids say JESUS LOVES EVERYONE!
Oh!  And if there's a specific Bible passage you'd like them to remember, make it short and have them repeat it after you a few times throughout the story similarly to REPEAT THE PHRASE.  You can make up your own stories about life or use an online children's Bible if you need a little help telling Bible stories.

Bible Suite Children's Bible
The Bible Story Guy
The Bible for Children
A Bible in many languages:  Bible for Children, Inc.
Jesus and Kidz
Super Online Kids Bible

I'm sure there are many more...