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The musings of a 30 year Sunday School practitioner, leader, author, blogger, and LifeWay Christian Resource’s Director of Sunday School. Practical tips for leading Bible study groups on and off your church campus.


In this episode I am joined by David Apple and Alan Raughton, Church Ministry Specialists at LifeWay Christian Resources. With a combined total of 50+ years of church staff and experience as LifeWay adult trainers, David and Alan help us understand two big things:

1. How are Sunday School groups teaching and studying during COVID-19 "shelter in place" and social distancing mandates?

2. Why is it important for groups to use an ongoing type of Bible study curriculum, especially now during COVID-19?

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In this episode, I make the connection between Brussel sprouts, Bible study, and better Bible teaching (yes, they connect!). 

Dr. Robert Pazmino, a well-known Christian educator, told a story of a Thanksgiving meal in which his son, an aspiring chef, begged the family for an opportunity to bring his favorite dish - Brussel sprouts. Dr. Pazmino was not a fan of the vegetable because of its bitter taste, but his son talked him into allowing him to create the dish.

Dr. Pazmino was invited by his son to his home to take part in cooking the dish, and it was then that Dr. Pazmino learned a great lesson he related to his current group of university students: preparation makes all the difference! Dr. Pazmino was given a small melon scoop and was directed to scoop out the core of the vegetable (the most bitter part). His son wrapped the vegetables in bacon, baked them in the oven, and the family devoured them! Pazmino admitted it was one of the best lessons he had ever learned. Preparation is key in cooking, and in Bible study.

Too many group leaders take preparation shortcuts and don't put in the proper preparation time. Because preparation is essential, here are three tips that I elaborate on in this episode:

1) Start early

2) Study daily 

3) Sleep deeply

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During these days of COVID-19, online services and Bible studies, and social distancing, group leaders must serve their groups well in one way if they truly care for them. I wrote about this in my book Three Roles for Guiding Groups available from LifeWay.

Shepherding is one of the oldest professions in the world. It is first mentioned in Genesis 4:2 in regards to Abel. Shepherding language influenced biblical writers:

  • God is referred to as a shepherd (Psalm 78:52)
  • Leaders of God's people were described as shepherds (I Kings 22:17)
  • Jesus called himself a shepherd (Luke 12:32)
  • Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:10ff)
  • Psalm 23 uses shepherd imagery throughout  

Amos 3:12 is a prophetic verse, but embedded in it is a little-known fact about shepherds. That little-known fact is vitally important to group leaders everywhere today. Amos 3:12 says:

 12 This is what the Lord says:

“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth
    only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,
    with only the head of a bed
    and a piece of fabric from a couch.”


Why would a shepherd wrestle away a piece of a dead sheep from a predator? The answer: the shepherd is not the owner. The shepherd works for a master, and is accountable to him for each sheep entrusted to him.

As group leaders today, you and I are temporary shepherds/stewards of God’s people, His sheep. He’s the Owner/Master, not us. We are responsible for the sheep he temporarily gives us to shepherd. Therefore, we must watch them carefully, love them, and protect them - especially during the isolation taking place during COVID-19 "shelter in place" days.

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With more and more churches going online for worship, what about groups? If you’re a group leader and want an interactive way to teach a Bible study during the COVID-19 crisis, ZOOM is a good tool that allows people to interact online in a safe environment. You can get a free version at zoom.us

 In this episode of The Sunday School Guy podcast, I share 12 tips for using ZOOM to teach an online Bible study.

 Tip 1: Shorten your content – less is more! Reduce your classroom content by about 40-50%

Tip 2: Plan for discussion – people need to talk, especially these days of social isolation. A good discussion question will take 3-5 minutes for people to respond

Tip 3: Use a headset or microphone for clarity

Tip 4: Lighting should be positioned to the front or side of you, not behind you

Tip 5: Look directly at the webcam, not you’re screen, when you’re talking

Tip 6:  Mute your microphone if you’re not speakingTip 7: Don’t use a Zoom virtual background unless you have a green screen. Use simple backgrounds, and make sure clutter is minimized or it will be distracting

Tip 8: Check the “chat” feature regularly

Tip 9: Use Zoom’s annotation tools to highlight or call attention to things on the screen that are particularly important

Tip 10:  Use “gallery view” when you have a smaller number of attendees.

Tip 11:  Share your screen when appropriate

Tip 12: Set ground rules at the beginning of your Zoom meeting

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