Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bible Study Curriculum: Ask Seven Questions

My wife and I recently ventured into our local hardware store to peruse the light bulbs. No, this wasn't a "cheap date" night! We were there because some of our bulbs had flickered their last flick! Our son had suggested we begin replacing bulbs with LED bulbs. In our attempt to choose the right bulb, we ended up back at the store three different times! I had no idea there were so many variations for one type of bulb! I have found that choosing Bible study curriculum can produce the same results. There are many choices, and one choice may not fit exactly what your group needs. When choosing Bible study curriculum, ask seven questions:

  1. Do I want to provide leadership by guiding curriculum choices? While I can't imagine leaving the choice of curriculum solely up to each individual group leader, there are churches who have given each leader carte blanc when it comes to choosing what to study. While being dictatorial is not a healthy leadership approach, as someone who has been given responsibility by the church for Bible study groups, it is important that you provide solid leadership in guiding curriculum choices. Determine if you desire groups to select from an approved list of curriculum, turn in a schedule or topic list, or use a uniform curriculum for all groups. I personally prefer a uniformed approach for my foundational, ongoing Bible study groups.
  2.  Will the curriculum choices affect the individual and the church culture over a long period of time? Yes, the choice of curriculum, or the lack of direction will eventually have a huge impact on individuals and the church culture. If you desire to shape the culture of your church, you will need to guide curriculum choices for your Bible study groups.
  3. Is the Bible study content/curriculum biblically based and doctrinally sound? You may automatically assume that this is the starting point for churches. Sadly this is not true. Many look at the graphic design, the author, the latest fads, cultural topics, etc. While the look, author, fad, or  current cultural trends might be o.k. it is still important to determine whether it is biblically and doctrinally sound. Do your homework!
  4. Does the Bible study content facilitate opportunities for a lost person to understand and respond to the gospel? If your group expects lost people to attend, then it must provide a way for the lost to examine the Word of God and respond to the gospel. The curriculum should provide helps for the group leader so that he/she will know how to communicate the gospel in the context of the Bible study.
  5. Does the curriculum build biblical competency and provide practical application?  While an intellectual, academic approach to Bible study is valuable, a good curriculum should always include the "What now?" questions so group members will consider how the lesson content should impact the way they live. Whether the curriculum takes a topical, theological, or book-by-book approach these elements should be present.
  6. Does it teach the group how to study the Bible? While the content is important, if it doesn't provide exercises, questions, and other elements that guide the group to learn the skill of studying the Bible individually, it might not be appropriate for an ongoing Bible study group. You want group members to learn how to study the Bible on their own so they don't depend solely on the group leader for the answers.
  7. Will my curriculum approach help me multiply leaders and groups? If the content being taught is something that only that leader can duplicate, the chances are that a group will never duplicate itself. Choosing a solid curriculum approach allows you to say to individuals, "If you feel led to teach, I can and will help you. We have a curriculum that your current group is using that provides helps for the leader. You can use that same curriculum with your group. I will help you get started."
While Bible study curriculum doesn't guarantee the success of a group, it does have a huge impact. Solid curriculum placed in the hands of trained leaders and used in a healthy Bible study group environment, will produce fruit!

In the next few blog posts I am going to feature different Bible study content providers. You may want to check them all out based on these eight questions.

You can always search for Bible study group trainers on the