No idea where to begin starting a kids’ Inductive Bible Study class? Don’t sweat it- I’ve got four simple steps to get your first class going. As you get your “sea legs,” you can start exploring some of the other elements you may want to add in to your class, but these four things will give you a rock solid foundation.
1) Learn the basics of Inductive Bible Study.
The beauty of Inductive Bible Study is that you’re learning how to study the Bible in the context of studying a particular book. As a teacher, I’m feeding my students fish while teaching them to fish. Having this study method down pat is a long-term skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. I say this without exaggeration!
So, check out my post explaining the basics of the three steps of Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application. You can also print off a great download from Precept Ministries (THE source of inductive Bible studies) by signing up for one here.
Don’t feel like you have to be a seasoned expert in the method to start leading a class of kids. The Precept kids’ studies are going to walk you all right through it, and as long as you know the basics, you’re good to go. You can (and should!) continue to develop this skill in your own personal study, so realize there’s a lot of road to go down if you want to go!
Want more? Here are a few books I recommend:
2) Create a syllabus that only requires THREE days of homework every week.
Although the Precept kids’ studies are organized like the adult studies, meaning that there are 5 days of homework every week, I have found something that works better. Three days of homework every week seems to be the sweet spot. For younger kids, that’s a manageable amount of work for their attention spans and learning pace. For older kids, it’s a manageable amount of work with all of their school homework and extracurricular activities. And for the parents, it’s a good amount of work to do with their kids without overwhelming busy work schedules.
The downside is that you end up with a really wonky syllabus, but that’s okay. Just be sure you have plenty of copies to keep everyone on pace. Here’s an example:
3) Choose your study wisely.
Some studies are one-book studies, and some are multiple-book studies. Some are on books of the Bible, and some are on disciplines or topics. And there are all different genres.
So, how do you know what to choose?
Remember that kids love stories. They engage much better with a study that has characters, a story line, and interesting events. For younger kids, or kids fairly new to this whole thing, stick with a study that tells a story. Jonah and Esther are good one-book studies. There are 5 Genesis books, but any of them can stand alone. You could do just the first of the two Daniel books, too. In contrast, there are 3 books for John, and those would be better in sequence.
More mature students can take on an epistle like James. And when they really have some experience, they are ready to take on Revelation, which is a two-part study.
The studies on disciplines (like Bible study and prayer) or topics (like covenant or God’s names) are better done one-on-one than in a classroom. I’ve taught How to Study Your Bible for Kids several times in a class and Lord, Teach Me to Pray once, and my one-on-one experience was more successful. The thing is, these are teaching skills, and it’s hard to keep a class of kids engaged week after week. After a while, they lose sight of why they are learning this stuff. It’s like if you joined a soccer team, and only did drills. At some point, you want to play a game and see how those drills pay off. But one-on-one with your own child, it’s more personal and lends itself to some great discussion. At the end of my Spring semesters, I recommend parents consider doing one of those over the summer.
I’ll shoot straight. I haven’t done the covenant study or the names of God study yet. I will definitely fill you in when I do!
4) As you drum up students, involve their parents.
I am convinced that the success of my class rests on the shoulders of my students’ parents. When I set out to see if this idea would fly, I wanted a way to give parents a unique way to disciple their own kids, and do something with their kids at church. This strategy has been an absolute home run.
Every week, most of my kids have at least one (sometimes both) parent with them in class. It brings a great sense of family and important to what we’re doing, and it ensures that the kids aren’t outpacing their parents in learning their Bibles. If ten years from now, none of my kids remember my name, but they remember the time spent discussing God’s Word with their parents, I’ve won. We all have.
On a more pragmatic note, having the parents in class works very well for me in terms of maintaining control of the kids. Especially with younger kids, or kids with attention challenges, having the parents there is what makes the class work at all.
Okay, I hope that helps you get yourself ready to roll! Sure, there’s a lot more you can dive into, but if you’re at Square One, focus on these four things.
And let me know how it’s going!