This is article five of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.
Principle Two: Stimulation
Years ago, I was in a conference with the venerable Gaines Dobbins; he started the first Southern Baptist school of Religious Education at Southern Seminary. He asked a silly question (I thought), Can you teach the absentee? As a young minister of education (in my 20’s), I said, No, they’re not there to teach. The wise statesman, educator smiled and said, Of course you can. Call them up and tell them what the lesson was all about; tell them what you did in the lesson; make them wish they’d been there. Made sense, but I have taken it a step further in my teaching. I like to hook learners’ attention, to get them salivating about the lesson even before they come into the room.
Here are five ways to stimulate learners:
1-Teachers and/or Care Group Leaders can make a session-related contact to stimulate learners prior to the Bible study using a creative post card, email message, a telephone call, a visit, Facebook, twitter, text message and even a special fellowship or activity designed to arouse interest in the session.
Through the years, I’ve had fun sending creative post cards to my class members and prospects during the week before Sunday. The message will include a focus on Sunday’s Bible study usually from a personal and/or humorous approach. It will end with an encouragement to read the focal passage or key verse to prepare for Bible study.
For example, we were studying about Jacob at Peniel and I sent this humorous card that got the class thinking:
“Jacob the Deceiver” VS “The Man”
Don’t miss this Main Event match.
Rumor has it that following this fight “Jacob the Deceiver” will change his name and limp out of town.
Read Genesis 32:22-33:4 to prepare for this Wrestling Extravaganza!
See you Sunday
Your Bible Study Leader
On another occasion, we were studying about the woman who anointed Jesus with the perfume, Nard. I sent this message:
What’s your favorite perfume or cologne? They have some interesting names… Candies, Curves, Red, Beautiful, Cool Water, Romance, Safari. They’re also very expensive! Have you ever heard of the fragrance, Nard? ‘Doesn’t sound like one that I’d like to wear! In Jesus’ day, however, that was one of the most expensive perfumes. It was not only used as a perfume, it was also used to anoint the dead bodies of the rich and famous in preparation for burial. This Sunday, we look at the story of a woman who wanted to do something extravagant for Jesus. She broke a whole bottle of Nard over his head. WOW! Come Sunday and see how this woman’s story can change your story and the way you worship God. Be thinking of an extravagant way you can show your love to Jesus. To prepare, read the story in Mark 14:3-9.
See you soon,
Your Bible Study Leaders
2-Place unit/session related visuals or activities outside the Bible study room or area: at church entrances, down hallway or stairs leading to the learning area, just outside door, etc. i.e. For the Bible study on “Nard” I placed a table with perfume samples just outside the door.
3-Create a learning environment in the Bible study area to captivate the attention of the learners. Everything should focus only on the unit or session being studied. Clear the room of all unneeded furnishings and visual distractions. These become escape hatches for the mind. Remember, the room is the silent teacher!
4-Develop a focal wall that includes the unit title, session titles and biblical truths. Use an attractive color scheme and follow it with all visual and teaching aids. A movable arrow may be added to indicate which session is being taught.
5-Arrange room for involvement. Avoid using rows and large semi-circles which make communication difficult. Arrange the room in multiple small learning teams of 3-5 moveable chairs. Communication is enhanced when people look each other in the eye. Remember, you can’t learn much about a person in rows by looking at the back of his head or in a semi-circle from across a crowded room.
Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.