Most people today would say that they have a short attention span. Is it because of technology or constantly busy schedules? Maybe. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for meetings that consist of one person talking continuously for an hour or more. If listeners aren’t focused enough to be able to absorb what is being said, then there is no point in speaking. What this means for retreats is ineffective bible studies and lessons.
One of the best ways to fix this focus problem is to make the lesson interactive. There’s no reason it has to be dull and dry. Let listeners talk. If the topic is a bible story, act it out. Make it a game. Use props or visuals to demonstrate an idea. Getting the group working together builds relationships, strengthens the impact of the lesson, and keeps members eager for more.
Let listeners talk. You can do this by asking questions or making them defend sides on a topic. Have a group discussion-based lecture. Just be careful that the conversation stays on topic and everyone gets the chance to speak. Most of the time listeners do have something to say. Assure them that this is an open discussion where all opinions are appreciated. The teacher may even learn something.
Act it out. Bible stories are perfect for performing. Youths especially will enjoy getting the chance to get up and move around. Putting them in the situation will help them better understand what is really happening and allow them to figure out their own decisions. Remember that this isn’t a Broadway play. Narrate the story and guide them through their parts. For reading members, give them little slips of paper with the important lines on it. For those groups who aren’t in the acting mood, use magnetic or Velcro pictures. Assign members a figure to move about throughout the story. Visually seeing how something happened can help listeners better understand it than trying to picture it on their own.
Make it a game. Adults and kids alike love games, so why not use it as a teaching moment. You could take the less active approach by doing trivia, writing, or memorization, or the more active approach by getting members moving around the room. Movement helps get the blood flowing to the brain, which means more thinking and better participation. Either way, participants are having a good time, and may not even realize they are learning.
Use props or visuals. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Instead of trying to describe something and making listeners visualize it in their minds, bring in something for them to actually look at. This can include pictures in a PowerPoint or tangible objects. The great thing about this type of lesson is that it doesn’t have to be literal. Use props that represent something else. For example, if the lesson is about the big and little things in life, bring in different sized rocks to represent those things. Here are some great ideas for visual lessons.
The next time you are planning a bible study or other lesson, remember to consider your audience and just have fun with it.
James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”