Let’s talk about your time of Bible study teaching. Maybe you’re a youth minister who speaks to your entire youth group once a week at a youth service. Maybe you’re an adult volunteer teaching Sunday school or a small group on a week night. Whatever your role is, I want to ask a question about your teaching:
Do you ever find yourself in a rut?
It’s a fair question, one we should all ask ourselves from time to time. We know the phrase “in a rut” originates from the days when people would travel in wagon trains. The “rut” was the deep, grooved trail that marked the right way to get from point A to point B. As such, “the rut” could be a helpful thing.
Maybe your tried-and-true lesson format has served you well over the years. It’s helped you make it through the wilderness! But, the problem with a rut is that it can seriously derail you. A deep enough rut would cause a wagon to bottom-out, the axel of the wagon digging into the ground until it caused the wagon to grind to a halt.
If we’re not careful, our “same old, same old” approach to teaching lessons can become the rutted trail that causes our teaching efforts to stall.
What if you took a step back and evaluated your teaching? Would you find you’re doing the same thing week-in and week-out? If so, what would it take for you to consider mixing it up this next lesson? What would it take for you be a “rut-buster”?
Here are three rut-busting tips to help you introduce some fresh perspective in your teaching times:
Change Your Format
Periodically changing your format can have a great effect on students.
- Do you primarily preach in your mid-week service? What would happen if you did an experiential time of prayer and praise? Or if you had on open-mic night where students could ask you and a panel of your youth workers questions?
- Maybe you are the only teacher in your small groups. What if you chose a night and assigned a passage to another adult or allowed a student to teach?
- What if you took a break from any curriculum you might use and switched things up? What if you had a “media critique” night where you listen to popular songs, or watched clips from TV shows, and had discussions about the relationship between our faith and the messages we see in media? What if you had a corporate prayer time, or had a discussion where students talked about the biggest challenges they face as teenage Christ-followers?
Whatever the case may be, a change in format is a surefire rut-buster.
Change Your Illustrations
If you’re stuck in a rut, chances are you’re using the same type of illustrations week after week. (Or worse yet, maybe you aren’t using any!) Changing the type of illustration you use is easy.
- If you use a narrative-type illustration each week, bust the rut by using an object lesson or a case study.
- If you’re a video guy or gal, leave the DVD player alone for a week. Tell a story instead. Replace the video with a narrative, a story from the news, pop-culture, history or even Scripture.
- If you don’t use video because of technical limitations, go the extra mile to make it happen one week. Borrow a lap-top and a projector. Find that perfect clip on You Tube, or Netflix.
You don’t have to do it every week. “Busting the rut” simply means changing it up every once in a while.
Change Your Interaction
Rut-busting is all about breaking expectations.
- If your students are used to you lecturing for 25 minutes then breaking into small groups for discussion, try building in intentional moments of discussion in the middle of your lesson.
- If you aren’t in the habit of doing any sort of “get-out-of-your-seat” activity, try incorporating one into your lesson. Maybe you have different stations in your classroom, or have students act out a narrative passage of Scripture, or play a multiple-choice trivia game where students choose an answer by standing up.
Changing the type of interaction you do is key to busting the rut you might find yourself in.
Breaking out of the rut from time to time is a great way to make sure your students stay engaged. You will be far more effective by providing a little variety in your teaching time. And your students will thank you for it!