Facilitating a scripture passage
by Sherry Bohn, Entrust, Massachusetts
Here is a brief summary of Entrust’s flagship training course, Facilitating Relational Learning. This is meant for you as a potential facilitator, to work through on your own ahead of a Bible study. As you do this you will:
Reflect on some of your own previous learning experiences and what you perceive to be your personal learning preferences
Read about facilitated learning and multiplication
Study Psalm 23 for yourself, using observation and interpretation questions
Write open-ended questions based on your personal study
Gather some friends to work through the passage together
What was your best learning experience?
How was the information presented?
When was this?
How did you use what you learned?
What was the environment of the learning experience? (Relaxed, stressed, noisy, focused?)
How did you learn as a child, and how do you prefer to learn new things now?
In Facilitating Relational Learning, we look at how adults learn, how Jesus taught and how the Holy Spirit continues to teach us today. Education research shows that humans learn best in trusting interactive environments where they have time to process and practice what they learn. This may explain why teachers sometimes say they learn more than their students — because they are interacting with the material.
Entrust’s key verse is 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)
“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses,
entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Our calling is not to give a conference and have many students look back on some nice information, but rather, to have a training where each participant becomes a trainer of others in the truths of scripture. In other words, after a training we don’t leave students behind, we leave behind trainers.
Hopefully you have Bible reading, Bible study apps, websites and books to spiritually feed yourself and your loved ones. Do you have friends or relatives you connect with on WhatsApp or Facetime? Would they be encouraged by studying the scripture with you? “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3 and Matt. 4:4)
Following is a suggested, sample Bible study for personal study or for a family/small group discussion. Any scripture can be studied this way. Here is an example from Psalm 23.
1. First step, is to study the scripture.
Psalm 23:1-6 (written by King David)
Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you.
Read the passage multiple times.
Observe the text and ask yourself questions such as:
What are the main ideas?
Who are the characters?
What are they doing?
When and What is happening?
Where is this happening?
What are the promises?
What are the commands?
What does this tell me about God? Prayer? Scripture?
Write down your answers.
2. Design open ended, multi-answer discussion questions around your observations.
[Avoid “fill in the blank” questions or yes/no questions]
1. Open, multi-answer Observation questions:
Basic question: What does this passage say about_________?
Complete the question with a main idea, character, action, etc from your study above.
For example: What does this passage say about how the Lord expresses His care?
What does this passage say about David’s emotions?
What (does this passage say about)/was David’s view of difficult situations?
What was David thankful for?
2. Open, multi-answer Interpretation questions:
Basic questions: What did the author mean? Why…? How…?
What did it mean that the good shepherd took care of David?
Why did David choose to trust God rather than let his troubles conquer him?
How would David have worded this Psalm in today’s language and context?
3. Open, individual answer Application questions:
Basic question: What does this have to do with me?
How do these assurances from Psalm 23 help me meet my current challenge?
What are my safe “green pastures” and “quiet waters?”
What are my fears that I choose to consciously release to God’s care?
What provision or blessing from the Lord can I give thanks for today?
3. Gather together to discuss.
As you ask the discussion question, allow for silence. Let people think deeply and offer their observations and thoughts on the scripture. Encourage each one to share if they want to. If correction is needed, bring it through scripture: “That is an interesting thought. What does scripture say?” or, “Where did you see that in scripture?”
Flexibly continue through the scripture asking relevant questions and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak as each one sees truth from the scripture. Consider this also a training time for everyone to learn how to feed from God’s word. Then if you are unable to facilitate a future discussion, they can continue to learn without you. Use this same basic plan to discuss other scripture passages, for example, the gospel of John.
If your group is unfamiliar with the scripture, you might have to explain some things. But ensure that each person has ample opportunity to observe and then share what they see in the word. Lecture may give information, but involvement is how most of us learn in a way that changes us.
The key is that each person be able to see for themselves, understand, and take to heart what scripture says. Enjoy the nourishment from God’s word!