9 Tips For Teaching Students
Teaching students the Bible can be hard work, but it is simply too important a task for us to take lightly. We can all improve on our speaking skills and work to get better at reaching the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In his leadership coaching material from 2012, Mark Driscoll shares these 9 tips for teaching students (points are his, comments are mine). They are still solid advice today.
1. Start strong — grab their attention right away
The first 30 seconds sets the tone. Students will either tune-in or tune-out right based on their first impression. Start strong with an engaging story, interesting question, or visual aid. And make sure the tone of your voice conveys to the students this is something you’re gonna want to pay attention to!
2. Teach one concept
Trying to cram too much into a talk is a bad idea. Keep it simple and flesh out one key concept. You want students to be able to easily answer the question, “What was the main point?”
3. Make it interactive
Ask questions and engage the group. This will keep their interest alive and can possibly drum up some helpful input. However, be careful with this one. If you engage too much, the talk might be hijacked and derail a good flow of thought. Know your group and who to call on and who to give less floor time to.
4. Be enthusiastic and keep the room alive
Keep your energy level up and show students that you care a lot about the material you are sharing. One pastor told me, “students won’t remember everything you say, but they will remember what you get excited about”. This proved to be true when a student who was converted in our youth ministry was sharing his testimony and talked about “this pastor who was always talking about Jesus. I’ve never seen anyone so passionate about anything before in my life”. I don’t get everything right, but that was a pretty cool moment for me!
5. Make it fun
Learning doesn’t have to be dry or boring. In fact, it shouldn’t be! Be creative and make the lesson fun to be a part of. Use humour, videos, props, perhaps bring a student up on stage with you, or whatever else might help to liven things up a bit.
6. Allow time for Q&A
You might not be able to do this every time, but giving students the chance to respond can be really helpful. It gives an opportunity for additional clarification and perhaps ways to personally apply what was taught.
7. Connect everything to Jesus
Christianity is about Jesus—duh! Make sure to keep the main thing the main thing. If we are only giving motivational speeches or moral lectures, we are not properly teaching the Bible. Christ is the centre of God’s Word and so he must be at the centre of all that we say.
8. Give away nice Bibles
Nowadays, everyone can get the Bible for free on their phone, and I think we should encourage every student to have a Bible app downloaded. But paper Bibles or devotionals make great giveaways, too.
9. Take a parental tone
Or, that of a big brother. More and more, student ministry needs to pick up a lot of what parents used to teach but no longer do about the practical stuff of life. Many kids just don’t get a lot of guidance from home, and so the youth ministry needs to work to incorporate it.