We’ve all been there at some point in our ministry: We’ve waited until the last minute to add final details to our lessons or sermons, pushed the envelope when it comes to finalizing materials, and barely made it to the church, home, or classroom on time.
It’s not a good feeling, and it sets the stage for a rushed, disjointed time with those we serve.
As a pastor for 17 years, I’ve tried to demonstrate an extreme preparation mentality for my ministry teams.
My goal was to finish my sermon manuscript by midweek, with any visual aids pre-selected. All this would get turned in to the media team days in advance so they could also practice extreme preparation.
On Sundays, I would plan to arrive at church at least an hour early to run through the slides with the team, and to go back over the message another time or two.
I would want to be in the main room and ready to go, greeting people with a calm, peaceful smile on my face as they found their seats.
I tried to model this behavior because I wanted our team to do the same in their respective ministries. A well-prepared atmosphere makes a world of difference.
But intentionality and preparation should go beyond the preacher delivering the weekend sermon; it also applies to a Bible study group leader.
One of the price tags of leadership on any level is being extremely early for any ministry activity—be it sermons, discipleship classes, small groups, or special events.
If you show up five minutes before a gathering starts, you’re at least 15 minutes late.
A group leader, for example, who is running around the room laying out supplies and frantically getting things ready is hardly a good host.
A steady leader exemplifies intentionality. Intentionality means thinking through the details of the group experience and leaving little to chance.
If you’re a Bible teacher, let your message marinate in your mind for the full week. Start your study days before the group gathers. Draft your outline as soon as possible to provide room for creativity.
But once the people are gathered, how can you best continue fostering a fruitful environment? The key is to have strong, unforgettable Bible lessons.
I’d like to offer eight tips for taking your small group teaching to the next level. These principles apply for all ages, and I’ve had the joy of teaching all ages.
Your body language should express enthusiasm. If you’ve spent enough time with the material—you’ve internalized it and allowed it to sanctify you—then you have something urgent to say.
The introduction to your lesson is the key to setting the hook. If you don’t give them a reason to listen, they won’t. Start off the lesson with a gust of energy.
One of the ways I’ve taught my own children to discern a strong biblical preacher is to time how long it takes them to read the Bible or get into the Scriptures.
The introduction to a lesson should guide the group into the text, and it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
If you’re 10 minutes into your lesson and you’re just beginning to read the Scripture, many people in your group will feel like this message is going to go too long. They’ll likely give up and tune out.
People love to hear stories and learn through story. But most times the listener isn’t nearly as interested in your story as you are.
When a teacher takes five minutes to tell a story, that feels like 15 minutes to the listener. Rehearse the way you tell a story and cut out unnecessary details.
Keep your stories succinct, or you’ll lose people in the clutter.