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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.