Teaching God’s Word: Preparing Your Lesson

Putting together a Bible lesson involves two important levels of personal preparation.  Both are critical to the success of any Bible lesson.  These preparations take time and energy, but they are likely to be the most exhilarating part of your week as you interact with the life-giving truths of Scripture.

In a previous post, we discussed the need to prepare your heart.  Now, we turn our attention the work of important step of preparing your lesson.  Here some practical tips to get you started.

Identify the Main Principle

What is the message that God wants your students to learn from the passage?  Write it down in one concise statement.  Example: Read Genesis 4:1–16, the story of Cain and Abel. The main point of this passage is that after the fall, mankind quickly descended to the lowest levels of sin, even to the point of murdering their own family members.  There are many important lessons we can learn from this passage. For instance:

  1. Sin is a powerful enemy from within and can master us.
  2. God is merciful but will still punish sinners.
  3. God wants men to obey with right actions and attitudes.

And there are dozens more.  For this example, we will select the second statement.  An appropriate focus statement for this lesson might be:  The story of Cain and Abel shows us that God punishes sinful attitudes and actions.

Outline the Passage

Once you have written your focus statement, it is time to write your outline. The outline you develop will help you shape the rest of your lesson.  You should practice running through this message several times before Sunday morning.  Wrestle with the text throughout the week and learn it for yourself.

During the course of your study, God will impress certain truths and applications on your heart. As long as you stay true to the meaning of the passage, you can focus on various aspects and applications of the passage.  Below is a sample outline.

Genesis 4:1–16

Focus statement: The story of Cain and Abel shows us that God punishes sinful attitudes and actions.

A.  Steps to Sin (4:1–8)

1.  Sinful Actions

2.  Sinful Attitudes

B.  Reaction to Sin (4:9–15)

1.  Cain’s Reaction to God

2.  God’s Reaction to Cain

3.  God’s Punishment of Cain (4:9–12)

C.  Our Reaction to Sin (application)

1.  Master It (4:7)

2.  Confess It (1 John 1:9)

3.  Ask for Forgiveness

Apply the Message

Once you have developed your outline, it is time to think about teaching and applying the lesson to your students. Think about these questions as you prepare to teach:  Are there any words or concepts that will be difficult to explain?  Don’t take anything for granted.  What ideas do you need to explain before the lesson so that your students can understand what you are teaching?

How would what you teach apply in a specific student’s home?  You can answer these questions as you observe the spiritual condition of your students.  Watch their behavior and ask questions about their motivations.  Ask their parents what struggles their children recurrently face.

  1. Consider specific students in your class.
  2. Identify words or concepts that need to be explained before the lesson.
  3. Determine what your student will do this week that will require knowledge of this lesson in order to honor God.
  4. Observe the spiritual condition of your students.
  5. Find out what daily struggles your students face.

Add appropriate illustrations from your life and your students’ lives.  Think of examples from their world to help them understand the lesson. Clearly spell out the issues they face to help them relate to the passage you are teaching.  Write out questions to engage the students as you teach.

Four questions to ask when illustrating:

  1. What examples from everyday life can help clarify the lesson?
  2. What examples from nature can help explain the lesson?
  3. What objects can help clarify the lesson?
  4. What questions can I ask to draw out the truth?

This post is excerpted from the teacher training material published by Generations of Grace as part of their line of Sunday School curriculum.  © 2006

Trey Garner
Trey Garner is the Pastor of Children's Ministries at Faith Church. He has been married to his wife Deb since 2001. They have two children named Noah and Lauren. Originally from Texas, Trey appreciates barnwood, armadillos, and Blue Bell Ice Cream.