Bible Study Guides
Bible study guides and teaching aids make learning essential scriptural truths much easier. Such guides help walk a Sunday School class or Bible student through a lesson by providing background information on the writer, the traditions of the time, and the vocabulary used. Materials such as games, lesson plans, and visual aids make teaching in a church environment more effective. Whether seeking to learn on your own or teaching a class, finding appropriate guides and materials is easier than ever. There is a wide variety from which to choose. With so many denominations and Christian publishers to choose from, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the choices. However, the very best guides and materials will stand out.
Additional explanatory information is extremely helpful to students, especially to those without any church background. Sometimes it's hard just to open the Scriptures and comprehend what is written. Questions arise and little background is given to clarify terms for the reader. Anyone can read verses, but those with good supplements can get the most out of what they read. Students will want Bible study guides to accompany their Bibles as they read. Whether a class has fifty students or five, appropriate guides will allow students to follow the lesson more closely. Through engaging questions, detailed histories, and thorough explanations, these supplements provide some life into what once may have been a slow and boring setting.
In addition to written guides, other Bible study materials can be helpful tools in teaching biblical truths. Visual aids, for example, are very important tools for visual learners. A visual aid stimulates the brain, engages the student, and can be remembered more easily than words alone. A good example of a visual aid is a brightly colored poster with picture and verse. The picture, or visual, helps the student to remember the Scripture verse by association. For example, the image may be of a mountain while the verse is about God being one's rock and strength. Other visual aids include diagrams, paintings, and charts. Diagrams and charts can show statistics without making them dull and lifeless. A diagram or chart can show facts more effectively than a simple list of facts or dates could. Lovely paintings and photographs are memorable and can help reinforce various points in a lesson. Paintings of one person's idea of biblical scenes can be really wonderful learning materials.
For teachers, good Bible study materials also include lesson plans. A lesson plan helps teachers in any educational setting keep their thoughts organized and ensure a smooth presentation flow in the classroom. Lesson plans are usually included in the teacher's editions of the Bible study guides. They outline the main points of the lesson, including what the students are expected to learn. The best study materials contain very thorough lesson plans with questions for the students. These questions help lead discussion and get the students thinking about the lesson or story in depth. Lesson plans also contain facts and histories to go with the lesson, which the teachers can share with their students. Stories and tidbits keep the lesson interesting and help the students relate the Scripture to their own lives.
Games can also be great Bible study materials. These are not just any old board games, though. Choose games that are engaging and Bible-based in order for them to be truly valuable materials. Use trivia questions to get your students to memorize verses or important Bible lessons. Trivia will also create a sense of competition and get students excited about Bible study. Crossword puzzles and word searches can get important words and Bible facts into students' minds without them even realizing it. Other games can be just as effective. Games for children's Bible study may also include additional visual aids and even crafts. These are always best for keeping younger students interested and excited about the Scriptures. For older students, the very best games should be challenging yet fun.
As you select study guides and materials, make sure that they match the doctrine and the age group that you are teaching. Visit your local library or Christian bookstore to preview some Bible study guides. You may even want to contact publishers for sample copies and a catalog of their study materials. They will usually be glad to send you such complimentary materials. Look these over carefully and compare them with others. If possible, share these with your Bible study group and get their opinions. After all, they will be using them too. Also, ask former teachers or students for their opinions on the materials you are considering using. No matter what Bible study materials you choose, remember that it's all about learning God's Word and growing closer to Jesus. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
Bible Study HelpsBible study helps are offered to any person who wants to dig into God's Word and to help his spiritual growth. To find good outlines or other materials, the student can search the Internet for good resources. These products have been written for pastors, seminary students, Sunday school teachers, and the person who just simply wants to get deeper in the study of the Scriptures. Some sites will help a person learn how to dig into the Word for himself. If students decide to write their own outlines, they can look online for helps that will take them step-by-step through the process. The ones who choose to do their own work receive many benefits. The first is that they will have a more complete knowledge of what they are working on, whether a book of the Bible, a character, or a spiritual topic. They will not be relying on what some expert says, but will formulate their own thoughts and points. This will also allow a leader to answer more questions when the people in his group ask because he will have developed the Bible study outline himself.
The first step in researching resources is to decide on the topic. Many times the topic is determined by the type of group the teacher is leading. Other times, the teacher may have great latitude in which material to choose for a group. An important consideration for the topic is the people who make up the group. Their interests and lifestyles can determine which Bible study helps will be most applicable. Is the group made up primarily of women? Then maybe focus on relationships and inner beauty. Is the group made up primarily of men? Then maybe a study that focuses on strength or integrity will fit best.
The next step in using Bible study outlines is to look for products that will help the leader dig into the Word. There will be resources that can show a teacher how to lead a 12 week group or a year's look into the Scriptures. Some of the resources a leader can find online are Bible dictionaries, commentaries, maps of the Holy Land, different translations of God's Word, sermon outlines, and many more. The nature of the students in the group will determine how intense the group will be. If the group is formed of new believers, basic doctrines may be the course to lead. Will the same students come each week or will people drop in and out? If so, a topical study may be most effective. A teacher can find Bible study outlines on the Internet for topics such as "prayer," "the life of Christ," "how to study the Bible," or "the work of the Holy Spirit." Other areas available are "how to witness to unbelievers," "how to answer questions asked by cult members," and "how to deal with stress in God's Word." The number of topics available on the Internet is amazing. We certainly are blessed to have so many Bible study helps at our fingertips.
A third principle for selecting these products is that whatever the leader selects must come from his heart. One of the most effective ways to minister to others is to share from our own life and heart. All the best resources in the world will not help if a leader is unable to share from the inner depths. Therefore, when a teacher chooses resources, he must look for a topic that helps him incorporate sharing and discussion. He also needs to make sure that he allows the group to bond with each other without opening up discussion to subjects that are too private to share. To do this, he can encourage sharing among the members and further research outside the group time with Bible study helps and by writing Bible study outlines.
Finally, in writing a Bible study outlines for his own use or to lead a study, a person must spend time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word. But sometimes we fear being the responsible person in a group or get discouraged in our own investigations into the Scriptures. Hebrews 4:12 gives us hope: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." He will help a devout person develop the right atmosphere and depth in the discussion. He will also help the studious person find many new principles in His Word. For the person who is leading a group, many sites provide tips on how to lead a group and how to follow up on group members. Allow God to be the central part of the process by developing a prayer list for the members of the group. This could end up being one of the greatest ministries.