Should Bible Lessons Start With Background?

How do you start teaching your Bible lesson? Do you launch right into the story or topic? Do you spend a minute reviewing the lesson from the previous Bible class before you start teaching new material? An interesting study sheds light on a possible need to restructure how we start teaching a Bible lesson.

The study found that if 59% or more of the information in a lesson was new or unfamiliar to students, their comprehension of the material being taught was seriously impacted in a negative way. What does that look like in a Bible class? Let’s say one of your students attends Bible class sporadically. Your lesson is about Absalom. She has never heard about King David when she has attended class in the past. She knows nothing about the culture of the time. Some of the words you use as you teach the story are unfamiliar to her. She quickly reaches that 59% threshold, meaning that even if you teach the lesson well, her comprehension will be limited. Even worse, she won’t remember the lesson because she has no frame of reference to which she can attach all of this new information.

Instead, what if you started your lesson by asking your students a guiding question to help them focus on what you want them to learn in the lesson? What if you pulled out a world map and showed them where they lived and where the story happened? What if you pointed out King David on a Bible time line or mentioned how he was connected to other more familiar people in the Bible? What if you had a Bible map and showed them the various locations as you mention them in the story? What if you paused occasionally to explain a cultural item or define a word? What if you showed the photos or replicas of some of the unfamiliar items in the story?

Taking the time to give students extra background information can drastically improve their comprehension and memory of your Bible lessons. It’s worth taking the extra time and effort to do it.

Categories Bible, Elementary, Faith Based Academic Program, Special Needs, Teens
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