As we start a new quarter in March, we face the challenge of figuring out how to best introduce a new Bible book to our group. Most of us have 45 minutes of total time, so giving a lengthy introduction is really not an option if we are going to do justice to the core passage being studied. At the same time, we know that some kind of context is needed to help the group understand the nuances of the passage being examined in detail.
The good news is an introduction does need not be long or detailed. We are trying to set meaningful context for the group for that particular lesson. Here are some actions that may help you introduce a Bible book to the group.
Identify what is needed for that lesson.
In the Spring 2022 quarter, the adults and students using Explore the Bible will be studying Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. We could spend most of our time telling about the life of Paul, his trips, and the churches he started. We must stop and ask ourselves if all that information is needed for that particular study. Our focus should be on Paul’s role in the starting of the Thessalonian church and the need for Paul to write them in the first place.
Tell the story.
Most of us are drawn to a story which may be one reason Jesus used parables so much. We can tell facts in a bulleted list and it not have the impact of telling a story with those same pieces of information. Painting a picture using the story behind a letter helps bring the letter alive to the group.
Add to the story through the quarter.
The temptation is to tell every detail about a Bible book on the first Sunday and then remind the group of those same details as we move through the study. Instead, we can save the details for the lessons requiring that detail. Use the study to build the backdrop for the letter.
Use the features found in the resources.
In the student and adult Explore the Bible resources, you will find some features that will help you.
- Introduction in front section: A brief introduction to the Bible book or books being studied in that quarter is included in the first few pages of the resources. Information about the writer, original audience, occasion, and key themes are usually included.
- Table of Contents: The Table of Contents includes the titles of each session which gives clues about the main themes found in the Bible book or books being studied. Referring to the Table of Contents also helps the group gain perspective on the development of a theme in a Bible book and how it might relate to the other sections of the book.
- Map: A map specific to that study can be found on the inside back cover of the print resources and in the Leader Pack.
- Book Outline: An outline of the Bible book or books can be found in the first few pages of the resources and in the Leader Pack. Like the Table of Contents, this helps the group understand how a book is developed and the key ideas in that book.
- Time line: A time line is included in the Leader Pack. This time line gives events and dates that help set the historical context of the Bible book being studied.
- Understand the Context: Every session includes an Understand the Context section at the beginning of the session. This gives a quick overview of the passages surrounding the core passage to be studied and background events.
Tip: Enlist a volunteer the week prior to review the Understand the Context section for the coming week and allow them to give a brief report about what they discovered. This is another way to involve others in the group time and to begin to apprentice a potential new teacher.
Use the suggestions in the group plans.
In the adult resources, the group plans in the Leader Guide and the leader helps in the Daily Discipleship Guide include suggestions to help us introduce the passage. These suggestions do the things listed above, doing some of the hard work for us. These usually appear as the first suggestion under Explore the Text and are identified by the title INTRODUCE.
Here are the two suggestions from the leader helps in the Daily Discipleship Guide for sessions 1 and 2 for the Spring of 2022:
INTRODUCE: Summarize the Introduction to 1, 2 Thessalonians on page 8. Lead the group to locate the Outlines of 1, 2 Thessalonians on page 9 and point to Pack Item 2 (Outlines of 1, 2 Thessalonians) displayed on the wall. Distribute copies of Pack Item 7 (Handout: 1, 2 Thessalonians Time Line). Briefly overview the time line and encourage the group to keep it with their Bibles throughout the study.(Explore the Bible Adult Daily Discipleship Guide, Spring 2022, page 121)
INTRODUCE: Point to Pack Item 2 (Outlines 1, 2 Thessalonians), displayed on the wall, to indicate the focus for this session—Conduct in Ministry. Summarize the information from Understand the Context (p. 21) to give background on the experience Paul encountered in Philippi. Use Acts 16:16-24 to provide more detail.(Explore the Bible Adult Daily Discipleship Guide, Spring 2022, page 124)