Focus on the needs of learners and help them to live out what they learn.
Bible study leaders can teach for spiritual transformation. The secret lies in developing a strategy that focuses on the needs of learners and helps them to not only memorize and understand the Scriptures, but to live out what they learn. As a Sunday School ministry leader, challenge your Bible study leaders to incorporate these two powerful teaching practices into their Bible instruction.
Know the Needs of Your Learners
Jesus used this practice many times when He ministered. He knew the Samaritan woman needed a changed life (John 4:1-26). He knew Zacchaeus had a deep desire for acceptance (Luke 19:1-10). With this knowledge, Jesus used biblical truths to respond to their needs and to help them conquer their life issues. Learners are the center of the Bible study process; therefore, you should gear your teaching to them, their personal needs, and their readiness level. Consider these suggestions.
Encourage Bible study leaders to take time to know the learners. Bible study leaders should know the names, interests, concerns and needs of every learner in the class. You can obtain this information by spending non-class time with the learners or by compiling a simple survey or questionnaire.
Understand Different Learning Levels
Once Bible study teachers gain an understanding of who they are teaching by getting to know the needs and characteristics of the learners, lead them to develop dynamic teaching skills. Bible study leaders need to understand the type of learning they want to take place in the Sunday School class so that learners can adequately apply biblical knowledge to life situations. In their book, Creative Bible Teaching, Lawrence Richards and Gary Bredfeldt identify five different levels of learning transfer. Knowledge or learning progresses through these levels and culminates in a life-changing experience.
The Rote Level
The ability to repeat meaningless information from memory characterizes this level. Much of the learning in our Sunday Schools begins and ends here. Learners memorize Bible phrases without an understanding of what they mean. However, this can be a first step toward spiritual transformation.
The Recognition Level
Meaning is engendered so that biblical concepts which have been said or read are recognized. It is at this level for instance that a song title can be recalled after hearing the music or lyrics. At this point biblical truths are learned; however, this does not mean there is an integration of those truths into the lives of the learner. Bible teachers must press forward to the next level.
The Restatement Level
At this level, learning begins to have meaning. Learners can relate a biblical truth to other ideas and values, and express that truth in their own words. For example, all Bible learners should eventually learn to share their faith with a lost person. Test their progress by introducing a scenario that requires the learner to share his/her faith with another person. If they can creatively provide a response, utilizing truths, values, and experience, then they have sufficiently mastered this concept at the restatement level. This is an important and pivotal step toward life change.
The Relation Level
The ability to relate biblical truths to life and respond appropriately marks the relation level. When learners have mastered a biblical truth at the restatement level, more than likely they will have gained insight into its meaning for life and react with a personal response. Bible study leaders should provide opportunities for the Holy Spirit to point out an appropriate response. Biblical learning that has not reached the relation level is inadequate.
The Realization Level
This should be the goal of all Bible teaching – truth applied in life. At this level learners can take the biblical truths that were learned and use them to modify daily living. Bible study leaders should intentionally and creatively teach for spiritual transformation by seeking to instill biblical knowledge at this highest level of learning.
Every Bible study leader and teacher should get to know the who they are teaching and teach principles until biblical learning is complete. These are two powerful Bible study teaching practices that can lead to spiritual transformation.
Christina Zimmerman is the retired Content Editor of the YOU Bible Study.
This article was first published on Sunday, January 8, 2017 .