Tuesday, November 13, 2012

6 Shifts To Go From Preaching To Facilitating Bible Study

As I've mentioned in several other posts (like this one), we don't do traditional preaching (a sermon/lecture) as much as we have Bible studies during the service. Facilitating a productive Bible study requires a different approach than preaching. 

A pastor I know well--who has a sincere love for God and for his congregation--decided to include this Bible study idea in some Saturday night services. We set up the round tables. He prepared a study with handouts that had questions on them. And then he proceeded to preach a sermon, week after week, with people sitting around round tables and taking notes on the handout.

He loved the concept of getting his people more engaged, but he didn't know how to shift out of preaching mode. He didn't understand the six shifts he needed to make from preaching to facilitation:

Goal: Communicate truth in a memorable way
Goal: Encourage everyone in the group to talk about the truth in the verse
Your Words: Make Powerful Statements
Your Words: Ask Stimulating Questions
Flow: You decide final point before you start, then lead them to that thought
Flow: Stimulate them to come up with ideas, then summarize their thoughts
Skills: Organizing your thoughts logically, finding and using illustrations well, choosing words well
Skills: Reading the people in the group, asking neutral, open questions, summarizing others’ thoughts well
Initiative: You are the first to speak—you speak the most
Initiative: You are the last to speak—you speak only when required
Success: Measured by the quality and quantity of your content—what you say
Success: Measured by the quality and quantity of the discussion—what others say
What mode is your default mode? What shifts would be hardest for you to make?


  1. ...not that preaching doesn't have its place in church at all. I think a balanced approach is best.

    1. Good reminder. I totally agree! I have preached in our member-driven church, though it's not the most common approach. And I often lecture-style-teach in other settings (keynote speeches, workshops, etc). What I think we need to do is add more teaching styles--not just use one. What I don't want to do is swing the pendulum to another teaching style and just change the kind of mistake we make.

  2. Scott, we incorporated some of this is our small group. Not quite the same things as your service, but we always tried to make is as much of a facilitated discussion as possible and have questions ready to go (if we needed them). Here are some of our ideas: http://www.christianlayman.com/church-small-group-best-practices/