...that is the plan


When it comes to teaching and ministry, I confess: I am an experimenter. The results of my experiments vary from very good to downright dismal.

Last night’s bible study was most assuredly on the dismal end of the scale. While a scant few enjoyed the grammar lesson—what was I thinking?—most would have gotten more out of walking outside and watching the grass grow.

Mind you, when I was planning the lesson it did not revolve around grammar and syntax but around discussion and prayer. Now I ask myself, “What was I thinking? I know I can learn; why am I not learning?”

Back in August—yes, a little over a month ago—I asked myself a question: "Am I teaching the book or am I teaching what the book teaches?" I decided then to concentrate on teaching what the passage teaches, while not neglecting to teach the passage. Last night, we barely got to what the passage teaches (though some of the students got it and applied it to me later—much later—last night...good job, guys!).

Once again I am a bit stuck. I am fully committed to helping students study the bible and hear the voice of God. But I am boring the students with detail and bored people cannot listen.

Time to return to basic assumptions and revisit the original hypothesis.

Back in August I decided to:
  • Prepare an outline of the teaching of the passage.
  • Teach that outline.
  • Show the students where the teaching is in the passage.
  • Make space for the students to engage the text and its teaching.
  • Provide tools and space for the students to engage with God and one another, hearing God speak into their daily lives.

Honestly, that was too much. I am entirely too tempted by the grammar and syntax to include this in the actual lesson (oh, how easily one forgets that many find such things incredibly BORING).

A modification is in order:

  • Prepare an outline of the teaching of the passage, then write interpretation and application questions.
  • Email the outline and questions to students. The students decide for themselves whether and how much of the preparation to do.
  • Restate the outline in timeless terms.
  • Teach the timeless outline (I still need to work on the how of this step).
  • Help the students discover what God is teaching them in this passage (probably discussion, pair share, couch groups, etc).


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“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”


  1. I miss the couch groups I thought they were more effective. The timing of last night was bad. Whatever time you think takes for the lesson add another quarter of time to that so you don't have people leaving at the end.

    I agree with the modification it gives the group more responsibility with their learning and what they take away from the lesson. A suggestion would be to try and have the outline down by Sunday morning at the latest so those who don't check e-mail can get a print out. I would even try and give the outline, if its like what we were trying to do last night to some of the people that like it, to do so you don't have to do it all the time

    I don't think that it's all you I think that the student leadership, me included, are having a tough time planning for Tuesdays

    Hopefully this didn't come off as a rant.

  2. not ranty at all...good stuff.

    I agree about couch groups. in fact, something MUST be done about the seating arrangement; the current one makes discussion entirely too difficult. the computer/media center is getting on my nerves and I'm the one who put it there. not sure what the final config will be, but it's gonna happen sunday.

    i like the idea of handing out the outline for those who don't check email. I usually have an exegetical outline Friday—I do one to prepare for my lectio and blog post, so there should be plenty of time. Also, the weekly passages are listed on

    thanks for the thoughts

  3. Im going to try my best not to rant here, so im keeping this short. I agree with Jeff.