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How to Prepare Lectures and Teach on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS)

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Purpose of this page

This page is provided as a resource for staff on YWAM's School of Biblical Studies (SBS). Much of the content of this page is also provided in a longer and more detailed format in the 'Bible Study' and 'How to Preach' sections of the website.

Aims of SBS lectures

In the SBS the lectures should supplement the student's individual study. Their study is the major emphasis of the school and is given priority. The lectures are still important and need to be taken seriously, prepared carefully and prayerfully.

1. Aid their understanding of the book

As teaching staff, your aim is to give the students material they will not easily find out for themselves.

a) Cultural and historical context

This will be more important in some books than in others. Teach background material which will throw light on the book and aid understanding. A list of suggested topics for each book is also available on the website.

b) Difficult passages

Answer questions that you know the students are asking, questions you asked as a student. Which topics or passages did you wish you had had more time on when you were a student?

c) Overview and main themes

Make sure that the students grasp the main theme of each book, as well as showing how that theme is developed through the book.

d) Bring an understanding of the theology of the book

What aspects of God's nature and character does this book describe? What does this book say about Jesus, about sinful mankind, about our position in Christ, about the Church, about the enemy? How does this book fit into God's plan of redemption?

2. Model Inductive Bible Study for the students

a) Let them see how you study and learn.

Through your teaching, demonstrate the use of the observation questions, methods of interpretation, and appreciating the type of literature. Make sure you continually show the distinct differences between observation, interpretation and application.

b) Draw conclusions and make applications

In humility, be prepared to come to a decision over interpretation of passages. Do make sure that you describe other serious interpretations and critique them, showing their strengths and weaknesses. Allow the student to make up their own mind. Try not to be dogmatic.

c) Be individual - find your own way to study inductively

Do not be bound legalistically to the method. Give them creative ideas for study.

d) Encourage the students to think for themselves

One of the main aims of the SBS is that the students do their own study and come to their own conclusions. As staff we need to facilitate that, making sure that we do not try and force our particular understanding.

3. Feed the students spiritually

What has God been teaching you personally as you studied? What does God want the class as a whole to apply? Suggest possible application from books or passages.

Lecture Preparation

1. Personal study

a) Immerse yourself in the book you will be lecturing on.
b) Become very familiar with the text. Read it 10-20 times, especially for a short book. Do thorough observation - in more detail than as a student. It is helpful to use a word processor to lay out the text according to the sentence structure, and then print it out.
c) Read other sources for background material, particularly the Bible Dictionary.
d) Consult commentaries - but do you agree with them?

2. Prayer

a) Seek the Lord for ideas, His word for the class
b) Be open to the Lord as you read through the book.
c) Pray for the lecture and the students as they listen and learn.

3. Have clear aims and objectives for your lecture

a) What is the point of your lecture?
b) What are the needs of the students?
c) What do you want the students to learn through your lecture? Be specific.
d) How will you tell whether your aims have been met by the end of the lecture?

4. Decide on the content of your lecture.

a) Verse by verse through the text. Best for short books only.
b) Give an overview, then focus on a few key passages. Better for longer books.
c) Trace significant themes through the book.
d) Give the students something new you have discovered.
e) Ideas will come from your study of the book. You will probably have more material than you have time to teach.
f) Check whether there are any hand-outs.

5. Prepare a clear outline of the main topics of your lecture

a) Make an outline of your lecture, showing how much time you estimate for each item.

Presenting the lecture

Presentation is most important. Bad delivery can ruin a good lecture. In SBS, this is normally the major problem. It is possible to have good material, but dreadful presentation.

1. How will you deliver your material?

a) Straight lecture format

If you choose this, there is a great danger of being boring. Break up the lecture with questions and feedback from the students. Use visual aids, maps, the white board. Keep their attention.

b) Workshops

A good workshop can lead to a more effective learning process than a lecture. A workshop needs careful preparation. Preparation often takes longer than for a lecture. Ask what is the goal of the workshop. Have typed hand-outs with questions and instructions, it is very easy for students not to understand what you want them to do. Make sure you have the answers to your questions. Break the class into groups with an interesting mix of people.

2. Consider the timing

Golden Rule - never run over time. It is not fair on the students. Consider when the tea break will come as you prepare your lecture. Calculate how many pages of notes you teach per hour. Set realistic targets. Make sure that you are the master over time, not its slave. Aim to leave the class wanting more, rather than wishing you would hurry up and finish.

3. Vary your teaching style

You can teach, preach, use drama, show slides or videos, use workshops, use role play etc.

4. Ask yourself - Is this lecture meeting the students' needs?

Make them want what you have got. Motivate the class. Don't be boring.

5. Consider how you will help them understand or remember what you have to say.

Use hand-outs. Decide whether you give them out before or after the lecture. Also diagrams on white / black board, or PowerPoint. This can be very helpful to aid understanding of concepts. Think about using illustrations, stories, pictures, etc.

6. Opening and closing

The first five minutes are the most important. You need to grab the students' attention. If you fail to do this, then you have lost them. Pray for ideas of how to start and finish your lecture.

7. Speak clearly

Speak as if you are addressing a person at the back of the room. Keep your voice up. Vary pitch and intensity of speech. Do not speak too fast. Look at the class while you speak, head up out of notes. Keep eye contact with individuals, but not always the same person.

8. Do not use complicated English

Remember, many of the students in the class do not have English (or the other language the school is run in) as their first language. Keep your language simple. Define all long or technical words you use, and write them on the board. Only use difficult words if you really need to.

9. Be yourself as you teach - find your own style

Do not try and copy someone else - it is not natural. Be alive. Have fun.

10. Asking questions

Ask open questions which can only be answered with a longer answer: eg: Why? How? Avoid closed questions where the answer is too obvious, or just 'Yes' or 'No'

Getting help and input on your lecture

1. Allow plenty of time for preparation (at least 3 weeks)

Do not try to cram your preparation into a few days (it shows). You will need plenty of time to digest and meditate on the material and really get to know the book.

2. Discuss your lecture with the school leader

One or two weeks before your lecture, discuss your ideas for your lecture with the school leader. This should include the aims of your lecture (what is the purpose of it).

3. Check your lecture outline with the school leader

A few days before your lecture, discuss your lecture outline with the school leader. This should show:
a) What topics you plan to cover, and notes on them
b) How long each will take
c) Your lecture format
d) Your hand-outs, PowerPoint or other aids

4. Feedback after your lecture

a) After your lecture is very helpful to receive some feedback. The rest of the staff will make positive comments, tell you the strong points and suggest areas for improvement.
b) Seek feedback from the students
c) Seek feedback from the Lord (but resist the enemy).

5. Attend all the other lectures

You will learn from each other, both in content and in teaching style. Note the strengths and good points and weaknesses while you listen to other staff lecturing and encourage them.

Teaching from notes

How detailed should they be? This is a very individual issue. Lay them out clearly, with spaces and blank lines, so you can read them at a distance. Do not be a slave to your notes. Notes should be there to remind you what to say, so you should not be too dependent on them.

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS