127 – How to Teach a Men’s Bible Study
Part 1 of 2
Since 1986 I have prepared a weekly message for our Man in the Mirror Men’s Bible Study here in Orlando. Through trial and error I’ve learned the difference between what stirs men’s blood and what makes them yawn. These lessons have been distilled into a worksheet to help me prepare and deliver a strong biblical message. I call this worksheet, “The Application-Oriented, Grace-Based Bible Study Preparation Worksheet.”
Each week I make a copy of this form to make sure I don’t wander, and every time I fail to use it I stray. If you teach the Bible to men, or want to, you may find it useful to adopt or adapt this method of preparing a Bible message, or use it to stimulate a method of your own. Even if you never plan to teach, reviewing this article can make you a better “listener.”
My method has five parts:
(1) STARTING POINT
Since I want to present a biblical message, I start with a text.
(2) PREPARATION POINT OF VIEW
Uppermost in my mind is getting in step with the Spirit. This section is a guide to getting there.
(3) EXEGESIS OF MY TEXT
I exegete my text to find out what it says, what it means, and what message it has for my men (exegesis is the interpretation and explanation of what the text says and means).
(4) EXEGESIS OF MY MEN
I exegete my men because unless I know my men I will not be able to relate the text to the real problems they face—which is the key to relevant teaching.
(5) PREPARING MY MESSAGE
Finally, I prepare my message. Of course, I’m preparing all along, but the final step is to decide what from my studies to include and exclude—easier said than done.
You will see below that I have “20 Rules” sprinkled throughout. That’s because I have so many points on this worksheet that I wanted to highlight matters of first importance. Here are the first two parts of the worksheet. We’ll finish the final three parts in the next issue.
1. STARTING POINT
Summary: A message without a text is like a car without an engine. It may look good, but it won’t get you very far.
- Rule #1: Pick a text. Sometimes I pick a text and teach its topic. Other times I pick a topic and then find a text or texts that address the topic. (You can find arguments for and against both approaches. I don’t think it really matters whether you start with a text or a topic, as long as you don’t dilute the truth).
Summary: A Bible teacher has a sobering responsibility and an immense challenge—to speak for God. Once I’ve settled on a text and topic, I begin to focus on a) my heart and b) where God wants to take us. I prayerfully read each item on the list below, and listen for what the Spirit may say. When something “hits” me I will underline, circle, or use a yellow highlighter on it. If there is a blank line, I write my thoughts. Or I jot notes in the margins.
- What is a problem or challenge my men face (e.g., pride, unbelief, pain)? ___________________________________________________________
- Rule #2: Prepare for a demonstration of Spirit’s power: Zec 4:6, Rom 9:16, Gal 5:6. Touch the noble impulse in every man. Break through the husk around his soul. Help men see the holiness of God.
- Attitude: Review Mat 9:36, 18:14, Mark 10:21, Luke 13:34, Eze 33:11, 2 Pe 3:9, 1 Tim 2:3-4, John 3:16, Lam 3:33. Where men are coming from: No man wakes up and plans to fail… Most men trying to make an honest living, raise a family… Don’t beat men up, but show them Jesus. Invite them to be filled to the overflow, then respond in gratitude. Remember he does NOT want to take men out of the world; he wants to take the world out of men. They are His “special possession.”
- Rule #3: Pray for leaders, men. Desire: They revere God & His Word. Lord, what is it that you want to do for your people this day? How does your Word guide us?
- Men come to hear a word from their God. Grip my heart, O God! Then theirs! Lord, let me think your thoughts. Burn, fire, heat. An old artillery adage: “A responsible round does not go too short or too far.”
- Ask God to so fill the place that men will sense the presence of the Lord as they come in. META-GOAL: Bring men into real presence of Jesus: Col 1:15, 2:9, Heb 1:1-3, John 10:30, 14:9. Unless my men have an experience with God, this is for naught. Lord, help me to be as good as I can be, so you can be to these men as good as you are.
- Old southern pastor, “First, I read myself full, then I think myself clear, then I pray myself hot, and then I let go!”
- Have something to say. Say it well.
- Make sure to engage the whole heart (Hebrew: lab)—the intellect, emotions, and will.
- Dangers: Teaching experience or opinion, knowledge without power, worship without reconciliation, challenge without compassion. Some who come are like dry bones. Eze 37
- Desired results: Conviction for those who need it, Encouragement for those who deserve it, Grace for those who don’t. John 10:27-28, Mat 11:28-30
- He comes with tension. Christianity is heart transformation, not behavior modification. Purpose to create value by making men thirsty for what I have to say.
- Prepare as though every message was your first, then deliver it as though it was your last. And then, “Ignore the record of your feelings.” (Oswald Chambers)
- Rule #4: Speak out of the overflow of your preparation. Have more to say than they can receive. Have 4 or 5 sentences to back up every one sentence you say.
- Never hoard a good idea. Never say, “I had best save this good idea for another time—so I’ll have something in reserve.” The moment we do that we begin to dam up the flow of ideas from the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t need us to save His best thoughts. If we don’t give them away, He will have no reason to keep giving us fresh ones.
- A poor message will make the obvious obscure, a good message will make the obscure obvious, but a great message will make the obvious obvious. Deal in real, solvable problems, not theological debates still unsettled after many centuries.
- Rule #5: A good message will answer a question your listener has never thought of, but a great message will answer a question he has thought of a lot, but would never ask because he doesn’t want to sound like an idiot or a heretic.
In the next issue of A Look in the Mirror we will look at how to exegete your text and your men, then pull it all together into a dynamic lesson