FAQs for Teaching Techniques
Click on a title to expand / contract the answer.
How does this interactive study work?
The heart of this interactive Bible study is questions that help the participant understand the text and their hearts. When people discover truths on their own, those truths are more interesting and memorable than if they had been “spoon fed.” Also, because participants are discussing and listening, they get to know the people in their group at a deeper level.
Many questions have multiple answers, simply because there is seldom just one answer to life’s questions. When participants realize that, they tend to relax because the study feels less like school, where many may have memories of the fear of giving a wrong answer. The multiplicity of answers also facilitates the development of conversation and community.
Move through questions rapidly. If you answer every question exhaustively, then the lesson will tend to drag. Most questions can be asked and answered in a minute. Think of the pace of TV commercials.
Encouraging Participants to Respond
As much as possible, the leader should dignify an answer by commenting on it and showing how it fits into the lesson.
Answer every question the participants have. You want to create an atmosphere in which they feel safe to bring up an issue even if it has nothing to do with the study. Their concerns are as important as what you want to communicate to them.
Writing Participants’ Answers on a Flip Chart
Why is it good to write down their answers?
- It helps them remember.
- You can refer back to what someone has said.
- It stimulates discussion; others can ponder and compare answers.
- It honors what they say.
Write answers on the flip chart word-for-word instead of rephrasing of them. Why? What the participants say is important, and doing this encourages them that you take their input seriously.
If you are a poor speller or have bad penmanship, you can turn it into a joke or have someone else write for you. (It is best if you do the writing yourself, however.)
Do not write down answers to every question; do so only when the question is a brainstorming one with multiple answers, or when the answer is important to remember. It takes too long to write everything. Answers that are most suitable for writing are marked in the manual: [Write their answers.] You need not be limited to only these instances, however.
Use the flip chart to draw other visuals such as charts and maps. Many people are visual learners, and visuals bring stories to life.
You might feel odd the first time you use a flip chart, but it will quickly become normal to you. The benefits are worth some initial awkwardness.
Selecting a Flip Chart
Large flip chart with stand
- A large flip chart (34" by 27") is ideal because it allows you to go back and review sheets from earlier in the lesson and from previous lessons.
- Make sure the stand has a bar across the top to hold the tablet.
- Make sure the stand has telescoping legs so you can adjust the height. In a living room setting, where it would be more comfortable to sit down, you will want the chart to be level with your chair, so you do not have to reach up.
- Office Max, Staples, and Quill all have flip charts, stands, and tablets.
Alternatives to a flip chart
- White Board. Requires special markers and a dry eraser. The drawback of using a white board is that it does not allow you to refer back to previous pages.
- Small White Board. You can get smaller white boards (that are not as large as a flip chart) that you can prop up on a chair for groups with few people.
- Smaller Flip Chart. Office supply stores have several small table-top flip charts that you can use for smaller groups or around a table.
- 8½ x 11 Writing Pad. Works well with small groups of 2-4 around a kitchen table or at a restaurant. So you do not have to support it with your hand, you can clip it to a stand-alone computer document holder (which typically retail for $8).
Shortening a lesson.
The average length of a lesson in this manual is 50 to 60 minutes. If you are meeting for a shorter length of time, you have a few options for shortening a lesson:
- You can split the lesson in two. To help you do that, most lessons have a suggested split in the middle, just before the beginning of a new point.
- You can eliminate or condense some points. We have listed the approximate teaching time for each lesson point on the title page of each lesson, so you will be able to shape your lesson to your time-limit.
- Inductive teaching (asking questions) is slower than deductive teaching (lecturing), so you can save time by teaching deductively some of the inductive material.
A word for experienced teachers.
An experienced teacher will make a lesson plan his or her own by adapting it to (1) the time constraints of the teaching time, (2) the group and its needs, and (3) his or her own particular preferences. So feel free to make each lesson plan your own by adding, moving, or skipping sections. However, we encourage you in the beginning to follow the lesson plan carefully so you understand how the study works. Each lesson has been carefully crafted through thousands of hours of development, so it is good to learn first how they are taught before attempting any major alterations of your own.
Each lesson is geared toward applying an aspect of biblical truth to the participants’ lives. These applications are seldom explicitly stated in “go thou and do likewise” fashion, because we want to avoid encouraging participants to view this study as simply a “How-to” or “Self-help” course, through which positive change can come from following a ten-step plan. The Person of Jesus study is not just a behavioral workout, but a heart-workout as well. Sometimes, the greatest achievement of a lesson could simply be leading participants to enjoy the beauty of Jesus and his love. If, however, you want to spend more time on specific application to their lives, then add a question to the end of each lesson like these:
- “Can you think of a relationship in your life that this lesson applies to? How? What change might it mean in that relationship?”
- “How does what we’ve talked about apply to you personally? How does it change how you think about yourself?”
- “Can you think of one specific thing that you’d like to change in your life this coming week because of what you’ve learned?”
The Person of Jesus study is student-centered but teacher-directed. That is, the teacher is moving the lesson along a set course. The reason for this approach is that if a lesson becomes student-directed, it can easily degenerate into everyone sharing opinions that lead to minor quarreling over words and no ultimate application. You end up knowing what is on people’s minds but they do not learn to see Jesus or study the Bible. Nevertheless, if you or the participants enjoy more open-ended discussion, then you can do that by:
- Lingering longer on discussion questions.
- Lingering longer on digressions or questions the group may bring up.
It is especially important in a study with just one participant to be sensitive to the need for more open-ended discussion.
Why use inductivity?
Trust needs to be built on several fronts
Most people who don’t know Jesus also don’t know the Bible or trust Christians, and church makes them nervous. So trust needs to be built on several fronts. The inductive format allows them to relate. People talk. A non-Christian can gradually see that Christians have all the same struggles they do. And by studying the Bible inductively they discover on their own that the Bible makes sense. And by focusing on Jesus they can discover Jesus in much the same way that a first century Jewish peasant would—by watching him. It is hard to fall in love with someone if you aren’t getting to know them in some way. I hope to tempt a non-Christian with the beauty of our Savior. I find him irresistible, and I pray they will too.
Do I need a participant or student manual?
This material is designed to be used without a participant manual.
Do I need to do all 48 lessons as one uninterrupted series?
The study is divided into five units. You can do one unit and come back to the material at another time. Each unit is relatively self-contained, but since the study builds on itself, it is ideal to go through it in sequence. For example, the more you study compassion (Unit 1), the more you wonder what the boundaries of compassion are; so the next two units (Honesty and Dependence on God) provide those boundaries; then the final two units show us what love leads to (oneness) and what the journey entails (humility, sadness, and joy).
Can I shorten a lesson or divide a lesson into more brief segments?
See also How does this interactive study work?
I've looked at the Person of Jesus plan and I'm still not sure how it works
Talk to someone in person
We would love to talk with you if you have any questions and would prefer to speak with someone in person. Please feel free to contact our office.
What are the goals of the Person of Jesus study?
There are four distinct goals for the Person of Jesus study:
Love: The first and most obvious goal is that the group will learn to love like Jesus. Becoming like Jesus is the bottom line of the Christian life.
Faith: People cannot love on their own. Faith is realizing that God loves us and that his grace was poured out upon us through Jesus at Calvary. This is the foundation of the Christian life.
Jesus: To worship him. This is a neglected goal because it is so intangible. But when you are leading a study, there will be times when you and the participants will be struck by the sheer beauty of Jesus. Slow the lesson down and enjoy his beauty, apart from the more intellectual concepts of the lesson.
Community: Just enjoying and beginning to care for each other draws us more closely together. Love creates community.
What makes the Person of Jesus study unique?
There isn't another study like it
Questions Instead of Lecture. People enjoy discovering Scriptural insights on their own. Especially in matters of faith and religion, people prefer to draw their own conclusions than to be told what to believe. People also feel more involved and respected when they are asked for their opinions.
Insightful Questions.The questions in the study have been taught and revised by the author for the best phrasing to elicit the best possible response. The questions are carefully sequenced so that each question logically follows the preceding one.
Balanced Between Inductive and Deductive Teaching. Though the heart of the study is inductive teaching—comprised of insightful, interactive questions—a lesson that is purely inductive would run the risk of leaning too heavily on participants’ responses, thus missing good content. So every lesson also contains a good deal of direct, deductive teaching.
Historical Insight. By drawing on the latest discoveries in biblical archaeology and our growing understanding of the Ancient Near Eastern world, the study brings Scripture to life. Participants learn facts from the ancient world that open up their understanding of the Bible, and therefore enlighten their own lives.
Heart Insight. The goal of each lesson is not just behavioral change in the participants, but also insight into their hearts and how they drive their behavior.
Biblical Insight. The study digs into the biblical text to find out what is really going on. It teaches participants to study the Bible, which results in their deepening love and respect for God’s Word.
Jesus Insight. Participants will discover things about Jesus in the Gospels that they have never seen before. Many people have said that they learned how to read the Gospels through the study.
Simple But Deep. The study is all laid out for you in this Leader’s Manual; you just need to follow along. And though the manual is simple to use, it contains depth of insight. It is “Connect-the-dot Socratic teaching.”
Gospel-Focused. Almost every lesson is tied to Jesus’ death on the cross. This keeps the focus of the study on the fact that the central power for change in people’s lives comes not from human effort but God’s grace.
Worshipful. At times the participants (and you) will be led to worship because of the loveliness of Jesus.
Geared for Unbelievers. Instead of preaching at unbelievers, the content of the study slowly draws them into seeing Jesus. The material begins with their “felt needs” in relationships and gradually shows them that they cannot change themselves for the better. The study does not assume that unbelieving participants are “seeking.”
Critique of Modern Culture. The study incorporates some critiquing of modern culture, and it invites participants to turn from the inward-seeking bent of modern American culture.
Geared for Both Unbelievers and Mature Believers in One Group. Both mature believers and seekers can learn from the study because love is difficult for all of us, and everyone can benefit from an in depth, insightful study of the Gospels. The study puts everyone on a level playing field. The questions do not assume any prior knowledge of biblical material, nor does it expect participants to have a biblical worldview.
What's the difference between "Love Walked Among Us" & the Person of Jesus study?
The book and the study contain the same basic content.
Each book chapter corresponds with approximately two lesson plans in the study. Generally, the lesson plans have more depth than the book. Because a small group study is different from reading a book, some arrangement of the material is different between the book and the manual, too. For more information, see the Comparison Chart.
Answers from participants are vague and 'floaty' - hard to work with...
This is more common in the beginning of the study. People are not used to paying close attention to the text. Until they become accustomed to interpretation, a little guidance such as asking the following questions can encourage them.
- “That’s possible, but what does the text say?”
- “Where do you see that in the text?”
- “That’s an interesting observation. What you say is quite true.” Then restate your initial question and get the group to focus on the passage. “Look at the story we’ve just read; how do you see Jesus....”
Are you in a group with poor readers or non-readers?
This is more common in a prison setting or with people for whom English is a second language.
The simplest aid is to write the text out on the flip chart ahead of time and tape it to the wall. Read it slowly several times, pointing to the words as you read, so they can hear it and pick up most of the words.