Teaching a Bible Study
By Rev. Crystal Schmalz
Tears poured down her face as she struggled with her faith. Tear drops dripped down as I held her hand, and watched her cry. I didn’t feel like I had anything adequate to say. I didn’t have the words. All I could do was sit there, and be with her. She began to tell me about the last couple of months in her life. I sat there, and could feel the pain and suffering. I could feel her fear, doubt, sadness, and all of the emotions that she had possibly hid from most of those who were around her.
Before I had arrived at her house I didn’t even know what to teach. Here I was this Masters in Divinity student, and I had no clue what I was going to teach. I said a small prayer, and asked the Lord to lead and guide me. I felt impressed to read the story of the woman who had been healed of an issue of blood. I didn’t know how this story would fit into her life, but I had faith that this is what we were supposed to study together. “Lord, guide us, lead us, and help us to learn something from your word” were my words before I opened the door and went up to the house.
For years I had taught this woman a bible study. Sometimes I didn’t know if she remembered the things that we studied. Sometimes I didn’t even know if she was listening. Still, every week I came and taught the Word. I had been with her as she went down in the water, and I had to get down in the baptismal tank with her because she was scared. I had been with her when she received the Holy Spirit. I had been with her as she needed help to climb up the stairs at church when her body was weak and unable to go up them alone. I had been with her, and then for a year I hadn’t seen her. Today, this bible study was different though. I had been away at college for a year, and I didn’t know how she was going to receive me. This was a “catching up” bible study. I opened the door, gave her a hug, and sat down.
As we began to read the Word I could see and feel it as it pierced our Spirits. I could feel the Lord lead and guide me as I asked questions, and attempted to be a minister of his gospel. At every step of the way I could feel his presence, and that is what gave me the strength to sit and allow her to cry. “It’s okay to cry,” I said. There was a peace that came over me as I told her about God’s comfort (John 14:18), and how he has not come to condemn us (Romans 8:1). Tears ran down her face, she was shaking, and I couldn’t do anything except be silent in this moment. I asked her how the woman might have felt in Luke 8 when she was going through a time where people had rejected her, she was sick, and possibly felt alone. Suddenly, without warning, this woman burst into tears. She said to me, “I would cry. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be next to Jesus.” Faith arose up in me, and I said “God is here.” This passage of scripture had opened her heart, and now God wanted to bring healing, restoration, and reconciliation to this woman. I am confident that it is in these moments (the silent ones when we don’t know exactly what to say or do) that God does deep work within our being. God opens up our hearts and minds to allow his Spirit to move and work in us.
Today, God ministered to a woman who was in need through me. I was a vessel, and a broken vessel at that. I’m not perfect, I’ve sinned, but God still desired to use me to minister to someone who was in need of God’s presence. Instead of going to “church” I became the “church.”
The first time I taught a Bible Study, I was really nervous. I didn’t know exactly what to expect. What if someone asked me a question and I didn’t have the answer? What if I said something wrong? What if…what if…what if… I was filled with a lot of anxiety, but I soon learned some important things about teaching Bible Studies. Here are some of the tips I learned about teaching Bible studies over the years.
1. You don’t have to know everything about the Bible to teach a Bible Study. It’s okay if you don’t have every answer.
- When you teach a Bible study, most people are looking to learn more about the Bible with a friend. You don’t have to know everything about the Bible to teach a study.
- One reason why people never teach a Bible study is because they are afraid they don’t know enough.
- Teach what you know. It’s okay to tell the person you don’t have an answer, or that you will try to search and find an answer. It’s okay for them to find the answer, and search out their questions.
- You don’t have to be a Bible College or Seminary graduate to teach a Bible study. Education is important, but a desire and passion to learn is what gets people into education programs.
2. Pick a Style of Bible Study. It’s important to have a curriculum, a study book, or a prepared Bible study lesson. This helps people learn.
- When I first started teaching Bible Studies, I used a study called “A Place Prepared For You.” This Bible study was a few pages long, and it talked about some of the steps toward salvation. I often used this study as a starting place, and it either took an hour or two sessions. Another short lesson I used was “Into His Marvelous Light,” which is also translated into Spanish. I taught a few Bible Studies in Spanish, although I could only speak a little Spanish at the time.
- If someone wanted a longer Bible Study I would use “Exploring God’s Word” or “The Path.” These were longer studies which went through different topics in a series method. These were great for learning, and having a long term study.
- Another Bible Study method I used was a small group method I learned from Cindy Miller at seminary. In this study I would pick a small passage of scripture, and use questions to help facilitate a discussion. This study was great for getting people into the Word, and helping people see their story in the Bible.
- Another type of study I did was adult Sunday school. I would prepare a lesson each week, and would do a lecture style Bible Study with some discussion at the end. I used this method for teaching on Personal Spiritual Disciplines and The Spiritual Gifts.
- I also taught youth for several years, and used a curriculum I wrote myself entitled The Extreme Teen Series. This method followed a method similar to small group lessons where there was a lesson text, and then discussion questions. I also used this method when I led a Women’s small group and a college small group on campus. I found the home friendship group method to very effective in promoting learning and discussion in the group.
3. Building Friendship is an Important Element of Teaching a Bible Study
- One of the really great things about teaching a Bible study is that you often make a new friend.
- When two people come together and study the Word of God together, they are worshipping God.
- One reason why people should teach Bible Studies is because it helps people connect in the church. People who are alone in the church often do not stay in the church. People need friends, and being a part of a church is developing and maintaining friendships.
Teaching Bible studies is one of the coolest ways to worship God and be a part of the body of Jesus Christ. I have been blessed to be able to teach many Bible studies, and it has really helped me grow as a Christian and follower of Christ.
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