Many of the principles used in hermeneutics also apply in teaching. If preaching is to be differentiated from teaching, generally preaching emphasizes persuading the listener to make a decision at that time, whereas teaching emphasizes informing the participant so that he will make better decisions in the future. Teaching is based on a relationship between the teacher and students. We teach people, not lessons. Students who like a teacher are more likely to learn from the teacher than are students who dislike a teacher.

Methods of teaching vary according to the age of participants, the size of the group, and the knowledge of the participants. Adults learn better when they participate in discussion. So if there are enough teachers, it is better to teach adults in groups of about twelve people or less. Discussion generally occurs in small groups, whereas lecture works best for large groups. If there are not enough teachers to teach small groups, a teacher can divide the adults into small groups to discuss what was presented to the whole group. As adults mature in faith and Biblical knowledge, more discussion and less lecturing can occur. Lecturing is appropriate for children. Of course, children have shorter attention spans than adults. So activities are needed for children. Teachers may tell them stories. Object lessons are effective for small children. The teacher may show the children some object such as a rod, and explain that shepherds use rods to guide sheep. Then the teacher may explain that God guides us. He may “prod” us to go in the right direction.

When people meet to study the Bible, there should also be fellowship and prayer. So meetings may begin by people sharing their joys and concerns. If the people in the group do not know each other well, a teacher can encourage discussion. A teacher may open a meeting by asking something unrelated to the Bible lesson. Examples of conversation starters are as follows.
      “Would each of you tell us your name and something about you that we do not know?”

“If you could make a dream come true, what would your dream be?”
    As participants get to know each other better, it will no longer be necessary to ask these types of conversation starters. Instead, the teacher may simply ask people to share what has happened in the participants’ lives during the past week. And people may ask for prayer.

People in the church should be like a family. When someone is sick, people in the Bible study group should visit the person. If members have needs, participants in the small group are most likely to know about such needs. In order to keep church members active, and promote fellowship and spiritual growth, members need to be a part of a small group within the church body.



The Lesson

    Just like sermons, Bible lessons can be expository, topical, or character studies.





Expository lessons can be thematic or verse-by-verse.






Many of the same principles for preaching apply in preparing thematic expository lessons. But in a teaching environment, the participants can converse with the speaker and with each other. The lessons may be longer than sermons.





Verse by Verse

Verse by verse expository lessons work better in teaching than in preaching. Each member of a study group can ask questions and provide input regarding the verses. This keeps the participants alert and involved in the study.





Topical lessons allow students to study what may be especially relevant to that particular group. For example, a church may wish to train all of its new members in basic theology. So topical lessons can be given on such subjects as the Trinity, the Fall of Mankind, and the Doctrine of Salvation. Many of the same principles used in preparing topical sermons apply to preparing topical lessons.




Character Study

Character studies allow teachers to customize lessons for participants. For example, a teacher might have character studies of the women in the Bible for a class of women.