Think of a time when you were on the other side of the Bible class lectern. You were sitting in class, but were only marginally engaged. Bombarded with a cacophony of thoughts, worries, and concerns that kept drowning out the voice of the Bible class leader, you found it hard to keep focused. It wasn’t that the Bible class leader wasn’t prepared or that his teaching methods were particularly weak. It was just that, at the moment, the thoughts about life derailed your concentration.
Many of the people sitting in front of you as you teach God’s Word face similar challenges. Their thoughts are overshadowed by worries and concerns. The challenges in their homes or places of work might seem to be more important or might simply distract them from focusing on, for example, a Bible study about Baptism, or the book of Romans, or on the subject of prayer.
One of the principles of adult learning is that adults need to be motivated to learn. A strong motivator for learning is the clear understanding of how the learning will be useful to them.
These thoughts inform us as we shape the introduction, sometimes called the hook, for our lessons. One of the key functions of the hook is to show why the subject matter is worthy of consideration even when our life buckets are running over with other issues that vie for attention.
Try to make the hook as real as possible. Tell a story that touches on a need that we share. Pose a situation that members of the class might have faced or might face in the future for which they would want to be prepared.
Perhaps for a Bible study on the book of Romans:
“Take 30 seconds. On the margin of your paper identify two or three ways the devil tries to lead us to doubt whether God cares about us.”
(After 30 seconds) “Life’s challenges can leave us feeling so alone and without hope—and susceptible to the devil’s propaganda. Turn to the person next to you and for the next minute discuss why there likely may be more of those challenging times in the future.”
After hearing a response or two, direct them to the study for the day in Romans 5. Explain that God will use these words to strengthen us for the days when those challenges come, so that we don’t lose hope.
Similar thoughts woven through the applications will underscore the importance of the Word that is being studied and encourage the participants to put their best efforts into the study even when other areas of life can be ever so distracting.