Bible Study Lesson Plans

Bible Study Lesson Plans are only as useful as the people who write them. This is not to disparage the usefulness of lesson plans; quite the contrary.

It is simply another way of saying that Bible study lesson plans that work for me, may not work for you. There are a number of reasons why this is so.

The most important reason has to do with the nature of the Bible itself. Because the Bible is God’s communication to man (God is the author) , we need to approach His Word differently than we would approach a textbook, wherein man is the author.

The Bible is literally God’s Word to man on how to live a successful life on planet earth and onto eternity. So the Bible is in effect the manufacturer’s handbook for each of our lives.

It is not advisable to buy a new car and never study or even look at the handbook provided by the manufacturer. It is even more foolish to never read and study the Bible provided by the Creator.

Unlike a textbook, when we approach God’s Word we are seeking far more than mere facts. We are looking for a personal “word” or “message” or “revelation” that speaks directly to our spirit in the context of our life at that moment.

The written Word of God is literally a person, the 2nd person of the Godhead;  ("... the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63b KJV)". And His personal relevation to us, in that moment, will provide insight into any situation we are facing at home, at work, or even for the health our bodies. This idea has been absolutely critical in my role, as Bible student, Disciple of Christ, Servant leader, Bible Teacher, and Pastor.

Bible Study Lesson Plans

In the context of preparing Bible Study Lesson Plans what this means is that the lesson has to speak to me before it can speak to anybody else. This is so important you should read that sentence, again! If I’m not excited about it, neither will anybody else be excited about it.

Someone once asked T.D. Jakes how he prepares his sermons. Jakes replied, “I don’t go the Bible looking for a sermon.""I go to the Bible to meet my own fundamental need to feed on God’s Word." I teach and preach from the overflow of what God has personally given me.”

Similarly, I heard Dr. J. Vernon McGee (Thru the Bible Radio) once say that he tried to read any scripture 100 times before teaching from it. McGee went on to say that in a lifetime of Pastoring and teaching the Bible, he never got close to the 100 mark. He would always become overwhelmed with the “message”.

Later when I took up my first charge, I also tried reading a passage 100 times before teaching or preaching from it. Like Dr. McGee I discovered I could never finish the 100. The revelation and insight would get so powerful, so consuming; it would literally shove all other thoughts out of mind!

So before preparing your Bible study lesson plans you should know what the “Word”; i.e. message is for each particular lesson. This Word should be so clear in your spirit that you can state it in one “declarative sentence”.

Once you have the “Word” for each of your Bible study lesson plans, all that is needed is a coherent structure for presenting the “Word.”

One of the best methods of I’ve found for teaching or preaching a message is sometimes referred to as “Hegelian dialectic.” It sounds complicated but is stupid simple. That’s why it appealed to me!

The dialectical idea of teaching is familiar to students of philosophy. It has to do with the use of opposites for clarity and simplicity. Jesus used this method over and over in his parables.

Although I’ve had philosophy classes and was familiar with the dialectic method, it frankly never rang a bell until I read “The Certain Sound of The Trumpet” by Dr. Samuel Proctor.[1]

Dr. Proctor’s book was intended for sermon preparation. But I’ve found it invaluable for classroom teaching, also.

Below is the structure of a sample lesson plan I've adapted from Proctors sermon structure:

1. Anti-thesis (Introduction or set up)
2. Thesis (theme either stated or unstated)
3. Relevant question
4. Synthesis

The anti-thesis is the “why” this “word” is necessary. Said differently, what condition or situation is before you that the “word” can fix. In other words what situation (condition) has pointed you in the direction of the message.

(This is the message or Word) After the situation has been discussed the message is presented in opposition to (in solution of) the antithesis (problem). In a class setting you don’t necessarily have to present a subject or theme. But it doesn’t hurt!

Relevant Question(s):
The relevant question is “so what”? It is what anyone would normally ask after hearing the problem (antithesis) and the subject (thesis).

Are the answers to your “so what” questions. They provide the body of your Bible study lesson plans and make them cohesive.

Here is an example of how your Bible study lesson plans come together:

Let’s say you want to teach from Galatians 6:1-15 for context and your key verse is the 15th.

Galatians 6:15 (KJV)
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision,but a new creature.[2]"

The passage is talking about the weakness of religion in opposition to the wonderful reality of a relationship with Christ.
(Note: Paul’s use of dialectic)

(1)The application (antithesis or problem) could be some dumb aspect of religion you have observed in your experience or in the Bible, etc. (A fictional church tradition requires walking around the sanctuary twice upon entering!!)

(2)The driving thought or Word (theme subject) that comes to mind might be: “How to Move from Religion to Reality” which is convenient because that’s what Paul is talking about.

(3) Now to give your lesson punch or vitality (answer your “so what question(s)”) and offer three or four (biblical) ways from this passage or elsewhere in the Bible to be alive in the Spirit rather than religious. This is called synthesis; which is another way of saying a coordinated, logical, series of thoughts.

The first one is given by Paul in verse 15; i.e., a new creature (creation).

You could discuss the ways being a new creature; i.e. born again by the Spirit differs from the religiosity of walking twice around the sanctuary every time you come into Church!

I hope you see how the natural contrast (opposition) of religion versus being born again in Christ makes both concepts stand out?

Using this method to create Bible study lesson plans forces you to deal with the author of your lesson, and makes your presentations wonderfully tight and very understandable. I love it.


[1] Samuel D. Proctor, The Certain Sound of the Trumpet, Crafting a Sermon of Authority, Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1994.
[2] Holy Bible: King James Version WORDsearch CROSS e-book., Wordsearch8™ Bible Software, .