Posted on June 28, 2017 7:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
1. I believe the potential for Sunday School ministry has never been greater than it is today.  The Sunday School organizes the entire church to be on mission with God in our community.  Our world is desperate for real, lasting relationships.  People are starving for truth!  Evangelism, member care and Bible teaching are all part of the Sunday School.  The potential is supernatural!
2. I believe in the desire and power of God to use ordinary Christians in extraordinary ways.  Sunday School allows the opportunity to serve the Lord in very significant ways without a degree or any formal training.  Sure, we need pastors, but the more people involved in ministry, the more exciting and effective we become as a church.
3. I believe in the multiplication effect of Sunday School classes.  If each adult class could double and divide into two classes in two years, our Sunday School would be ministering to twice as many people in 2019.  That also would mean double the baptisms and worship attendance!
4. I believe the Sunday School impacts every other ministry in the church because leaders are developed in the Sunday School class.  Every growing church needs leaders to serve in various ministries in a local church.  Sunday School equips people to be sound leaders of godly character.
5. I believe the future of our church will rise or fall on the effectiveness of our Sunday School.  When the Sunday School grows, the worship service grows and the same effect can be seen in each department.  When the Sunday School fails to grow, it leads to decline in worship as well as other vital areas of ministry.  Our future depends on the success of our Sunday School.
6. I believe the gospel is still the only hope for our world.  The Sunday School is all about getting the gospel to people who need to hear it and believe it.  When a Sunday School class embraces their mission, the kingdom of God becomes more populated.  United, we can reach more people.
7. I believe some of tomorrow’s greatest leaders are in our preschool, children, and youth classes right now.  Sunday School impacts future generations.  We are a church of many generations, focused on reaching and discipling the next generation.  Lives are shaped for God’s will and work each week by dedicated teachers who minister to future generations today. 
8. I believe the Sunday School is the best way to keep people involved in the things of God once they trust Christ as Savior.  When people are reached for Christ through door-to-door visitation, only about 2% are involved in church two years later.  About 20% of the people reached through big events and crusades are involved in church two years later.  When people come to Christ and are connected to a Sunday School class, over 80% are still involved two years later.

9. I believe the Sunday School is very fertile ground for growing and discipling Christians for Christ.  Learning and applying the Word of God can be done in many settings, but the Sunday School provides ways for people to actually get involved in the Great Commission.  Jesus taught by allowing His disciples to have hands-on experience reaching and ministering to people.  The same approach is the practice of good Sunday School ministry. 
10. I believe the greatest catalyst for the success of a Sunday School class is the teacher of that class.  No one has more influence on a class than the teacher.  No one will motivate outreach and spiritual growth in a class more than the teacher. 
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC S. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on June 23, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
There is a story told of a pastor who retired and decided to buy an old, dilapidated ranch in West Texas.  His desire was to fix up the place and sell it and earn some extra income now that he had time.  The preacher worked hard, long hours clearing brush, painting fences and restoring the old house.  He had to serve an evacuation notice to the mice, armadillos and rattle snakes and even a few tarantulas.  In addition, his plumbing, carpentry and electrical skills were pushed to the limits.  After months of much time and effort, the place looked great.
One day, one of the members of his old church came to look over the transformed ranch.  Knowing that his former pastor was a humble man who rarely took credit for anything, he said, “Well pastor, you and the Lord have really done a great job with this place.”  The minister smiled sheepishly and said, “Yes sir, and you should have seen it when the Lord had it all to Himself!”
No one wants to take credit for what only God can do.  That would be foolish and carnal.  But, as we learned last week, God blesses and uses the hard work of His people.  God enjoys using the human element when He does His work in and through the local church.  Jesus could have fed 5,000 without any help at all, but he used a boy and his lunch as well as His disciples to do the job.  He could cause the clouds to spell out the gospel in the sky, but He chooses to allow us the privilege of being partners with Him in ministry. 
In the work of reaching and discipling through the Sunday School, only God can save people and bring spiritual maturity in their lives.  It is God who adds to His church, but He uses ordinary garden-variety Christians like us in the process.  As we saw last week, our part in Sunday School growth is to 1) work our prospects, 2) make regular contacts with our enrollees and 3) encourage new people to enroll in the class.  Today, we will conclude with three other tasks that we can do to help the church reach and disciple more people through Sunday School.
4.We can start new units.  On average, our Sunday School attendance will be about 10 people for every class we offer.  Some classes will average less than 10 and some more, but in the big picture the ratio is about 10 people for every class.  Even last year, we started a new class and our average attendance has risen by nine in average attendance.  Starting new classes is our part and we trust that God will do His part as He blesses our visits and calls.
5. We can provide more space.  You can only get 12 eggs in a one dozen egg carton.  A class can only grow to a certain level based on the available space in the room.  To grow our Sunday School we have to provide rooms to make it happen.  Providing more space may involve getting creative with the space we have, it may mean utilizing another time-slot or it may mean building more space.  When a church is using every available room for Sunday School, it is already out of space and needs to look for the right plan of action to provide space for future growth.
6. We can train teachers and Sunday School leaders to be more effective in reaching and discipling people.  A sharp ax can chop more wood than a dull one.  As we encourage and help our teachers to grow in people skills, communication skills, Bible knowledge and good, healthy Sunday School practices, they can be more effective in doing the work of the church.  The health of our Sunday is directly related to the health of our Sunday School, and the health of our Sunday School is directly related to the character and skills of our teachers.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon
Posted on June 19, 2017 2:48 PM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership

When speaking at a conference at Ridgecrest, No. Car., I met a retiree from northern Virginia. When I asked him about witnessing to the Muslims in the new mosque built in his county, he proudly stated that his church’s doors were open to all people. When I asked if anyone from his church had ever gone to the Islamic Center on the campus to evangelize, his eyes grew wide and he spat, “Certainly not!” But yet he fully expected a Muslim to come to him. Where’s the Great Commission mentality?

The time for filling out the ACP (Annual Church Profile) is coming in August. And with that in mind, I think it’s time every church considered itself on mission. We keep hearing it said that everyone is a missionary, quoting Jesus in John 21. But are we raising up missionaries to go after the lost? And are we measuring missionary methods? Unfortunately, AM Worship, Sunday School attendance, and even baptisms are attractional measures and not missional measures.

Of the 10 church plants reporting on ACP, 442 people were in AM worship on the average Sunday. Praise God that these church plants baptized 44 people! That ratio was roughly 10:1 – it took 10 to baptize one. In CABA’s legacy churches, that ratio was 20 to 1.

However, this reporting is recorded in an accepted system that is working a bit, but not even adding up to the 75,000 people moving into our nine counties during a decade’s time.

In a city of 1.5 million non-evangelicals and one million completely unchurched people, both models are not sufficient to bring spiritual transformation to the Cincinnati Area. Are we content with 500 baptisms per year while thousands die each year without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12 ESV).

Let me propose that missional churches want to track spiritual conversations engaged in, new believers who led someone else to Christ, money invested in evangelizing and missions support, new small groups begun, new small group leaders trained, new pastors trained, and multiple new churches started each year.

When we start measuring priorities that we need to improve, CABA will glorify God!

Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.

Posted on June 19, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Throughout the Bible God uses the farmer as an illustration of our work as Christians.  It is a great illustration of God’s work, because only God can grow the crops in the field.  He must supply the sunshine and rain and only He can bring a dead seed to life.  And yet, the farmer also has certain responsibilities.  In the work of God, there are things that only God can do.  Only God can save a person and cause him to grow in Christ.  God must supply the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and draw the person to Christ.  Only God can make a spiritually dead person come to life.  And yet, we as Christians have certain responsibilities, like the farmer, to do our part in the harvest.
As a Sunday School leader, you may have a desire to see your class grow.  You long to see people saved and become committed disciples.  You want to see them connect with others in real fellowship and connect with God in real worship.  But what is your part?  Is teaching a good lesson enough to reach people for Jesus, or is there more we can do?  I’ve been thinking on that question and I’d like to share some thoughts.
1. We can work our prospects.  Every time someone visits your class from the nearby community, that person becomes a prospect for your class.  Every time a person, who is in the age range of your class, visits our church, she is a prospect for your class.  Every time you strike up a conversation with a person at the gas pump or in the line at the grocery store or in the bleachers of a little league game, there is a prospect.  Research tells us that most unchurched people would visit a church if invited by a friend.  I think that demonstrates that believers are more reluctant to invite people than lost people are reluctant to attend!
2. We can make regular contacts with our enrollees.  There is a place for FaceBook contacts, text messages and email invitations, but the reality is this; the more personal the contact, the more likely the person will attend.  A face to face contact is more personal than a phone call.  A phone call is more personal than a postcard, etc.  When we contact our enrollees—especially our absentees—it is important to have a reason for the contact other than, “We missed you.”  We can call to get an update on a prayer concern.  We can text to remind people of the passage we are studying on the coming Sunday.  We can make a visit to hand out the new quarterly.  We can send a post card to remind people of a special fellowship or ministry project.  Growth never happens by accident.  Someone is always making the needed sacrifices for growth to occur. 
3. We can take initiative to enroll new people.  Occasionally, a teacher will say something like, “Can I drop Sally from my roll?  She only comes twice a year and I like to have 100% participation!”  That is really a misunderstanding of the Sunday School roll.  It is great to have semi-active people on every class roll.  Your enrollees are your ministerial responsibility as a class.  These people become your ministry list.  When one of them hurts, we hurt with them.  They are the people we serve.  We do not have to wait three weeks to enroll someone.  If they are driving distance from the church, take the initiative to enroll them and see them as valued members.
There are at least three other things we can do to help grow our class and our Sunday School ministry.  We will look at those [Friday, June 23], but for now suffice it to say that God blesses hard work.  God can grow a field of sweet corn without the farmer’s help, but generally, without the farmer, the field will just grow weeds.  That’s not to take credit for what only God can do, but it is a reminder that God enjoys working through us and involving us in His harvest.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon
Posted on June 12, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
It is an old saying, but it is still true.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  It is especially true in the work of the ministry.  How Sunday School classes receive their quests is critical to the success of the class in reaching new people.  Another critical factor in keeping the guests coming back is follow-up.  It is exciting to have a big week like Vacation Bible School and see the potential of a church full of children, but how well we follow-up with these kids and their families often determines if we will ever see them again. 
Here are five facts to consider:
1. Follow-up as a demonstration of biblical hospitality.  The Bible says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another… given to hospitality” (Romans 12:10-13).  Good follow-up is simply a good, hospitable way of treating your guests.
2. Good follow-up with guests is a good ministry strategy.  There is no better prospect for your class than the one that visited last week.  She has already demonstrated a level of interest by attending.  If she can get connected and build friendships with others in the class, there is a good chance she’ll be back.  If she gets a call or visit from the teacher, it is even more impressive. 
3. The most successful follow-up happens outside the classroom.  We can invite our guests to class parties and ministry projects.  We can visit in their home to see if they have questions about the church or Sunday School.  We can send a thank you card.  We can call and find out if there are any special prayer needs and pray over the phone with the prospect.  We can invite them over for pizza and a movie.  All these things are living demonstrations to your guests that you care about them and really want them in your class.
4. The more people who are involved in follow-up, the better!  People are living and working with others every day, but often without making a single friend.  People in our culture long for the happy friendships they see on the sitcoms, yet find themselves lonely and isolated.  They want meaningful relationships with others outside their own homes.  The Sunday School class offers the perfect opportunity for such relationships.  The potential for these relationships grows as more of your class members are involved in the follow-up process.
5. Good follow-up is like most good ideas—sooner or later it boils down to someone doing the work.  No teacher can do all the follow-up that is needed, so have an assistant or enlist a class Evangelism Leader to help you with good follow-up.  Each class should keep a record of the guests who attend.  The Evangelism Leader keeps that information and assigns or makes contacts on a regular basis.
One teacher I heard of made a list of the class prospects that had visited over time and asked for four volunteers that would be willing to make phone calls and write letters.  The teacher divided the list by four, and assigned the names to the four volunteers.  Each volunteer contacted the people on his or her list that week.  Then the teacher switched the lists for the second week, and so on.  Every prospect was contacted four weeks in a row by four different people in the class.  It wasn’t long before the people on the prospect list became enrollees and regular attendees of the class.  The follow-up project took very little time, but it produced amazing results.
The Nike shoe company uses the slogan, “Just Do It.”  It is simple and to the point.  When it comes to contacting absentees and prospects, we, also, need to prioritize and just do it!
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on June 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Leadership
In the Book of Job, we find the man Job surrounded by his “friends” during his time of calamity.  Their presence is no doubt a comfort to Job until that fateful moment when they decide to offer him some advice on why he was facing the trials he was experiencing.  As we teach the Word of God, it will not be unusual for people to want to hear our advice or counsel.  Perhaps the following thoughts will be helpful as you consider how God might use you in this way.
Before offering counsel, be sure you are the right person to give it.  Jesus had an encounter with a man in Luke 12:13 who wanted Him to settle a family inheritance issue.  Jesus responded with a question, “Who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”  Jesus did not offer to counsel the man or give him advice because there were other people responsible to do so.  As we work with people, we may find that a parent, church official or even a lawyer is the best one to give the counsel needed.  It is human nature to attempt to get people on “our side” of a dispute.  Be careful not to get pulled into a situation where someone wants to use you to referee their fight.
It is also good to not offer advice to someone who is not emotionally ready to receive it.  If you are generally a caring, sensitive person, you may be especially tempted to start giving advice when it is not really called for.  Probably the best way to be sure your advice is wanted is to wait for the person to ask you!  Even then, be careful.  If you are walking away from a cemetery where a person has just buried a loved one and they ask, “Why does God allow such pain in the world?” the person is probably not really ready for you to try to answer that question. 
I read about a well-known pastor whose wife was in the hospital with cancer.  The hospital chaplain, who was normally very sensitive, I’m sure, recognized the famous pastor.  The chaplain prayed and as he left the room he said, “Well, keep a stiff upper lip.”  The pastor wrote, “I wanted to give him a stiff upper lip!”  The chaplain may have felt intimidated or wasn’t sure what to say to a fellow minister, but his “advice” seemed trite and insensitive.  The prayer for comfort and healing was appreciated, but the advice was not.  The timing of the comment was simply not right.  The pastor was not emotionally ready to receive advice and didn’t ask for it!
Another mistake in giving advice is assuming we have all the answers.  Especially when a person is suffering, it is a huge mistake to assume we know the reason why.  I may be able to give a general theological answer as to why there is suffering in the world, but it would be foolish for me to assume I know why a particular person is suffering.  Frankly, the more severe the crisis, the less we really need to say.  Our presence, a listening ear and a sincere prayer is all that is really needed at such a time.  Even if I think I know that a person’s personal sin is directly related to their crisis, it would be best to keep it to myself, even if I am convinced I’m right.  I once witnessed a funeral for a 10-year-old who was killed as he and his cousin were playing with a gun.  The preacher used part of his funeral sermon to shame these grieving parents concerning gun safety!  The advice may have been good in another setting, but that was not the time to be the “answer-man.”
As the people in your class seek out counsel, be sure your advice is biblical and consistent with the spirit of Christ.  He understands suffering, conflict and trials like no other.  Our goal in giving counsel is that people would encounter Him as they seek answers to the issues of life from the pages and principles of God’s Word.  Jesus isn’t just the “Answer-Man”—He is the answer!
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and also pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon, Ohio.
Posted on May 29, 2017 10:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Leadership
One of my favorite new TV shows is Designated Survivor. It’s a West Wing drama where America is attacked during a meeting of both houses of Congress and the one person who was “designated” to miss the meeting is left in charge to rebuild the government and the country as the President of the United States. It’s currently in season two and a good suspense show if you like that sort of thing.
In a recent episode the President asks a former Chief of Staff to rejoin his administration. When the former Chief of Staff courteously declines the President says he will not take no for an answer. The former Chief of Staff then replies, “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” It’s a feel good moment in the show. 
This reply, though I have heard it before, has now stuck with me for about a week. It seems to have grabbed ahold of my heart and won’t let go. In this time I have asked two main questions, one as a lover of history and the other as a follower of Christ and as a pastor: First, where did this statement originate? Second, what are the implications to serving at the pleasure of one who is so supreme?
With a little research and no intention of being political I found that this very phrase is one which has recently been utilized and even come under scrutiny. In February of 2017, Trump Administration White House advisor Kellyann Conway stated on Twitter:
“I serve at the pleasure of @Potus. His message is my message. His goals are my goals.” (source)
However, the phrase itself actually goes back as far as the 1700’s in American history and if one exchanges the word “President” with “king” or another royal office the phrase can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages. The origin comes from the Latin phrase, durante bene placito regis and would be literally translated “during the pleasure of the king.”  The impetus of the phrase is a declaration of willing subjection. A person who serves at the pleasure of the President is a person who is called and accountable to that calling. He or she serves willingly, loyally, and obediently that the President would find satisfaction in their efforts, their results, and even in their person.
The thought that I truly can’t seem to shake, for us who are called by God the Father to such a glorious salvation in Christ the Son and empowered for a clear mission by His Spirit, how much more so do we serve at the pleasure of our King? Is there anything to great that He could ask of us? By no means do I mean to belittle the hardships that you may be facing. The difficulties of ministry are certainly overwhelming at times. The attacks of the evil one may often seem inexhaustible. The burden of balancing life circumstances, family, your own finances, and ministry are enough to make any sane person want to throw their hands up in the air, to waive a white flag, to give up and do something else, anything else.
And we would too… but we serve at the pleasure of the King.
His name is our name. His salvation is our salvation. His righteousness has been imputed to us who live by faith.
His message, the beautiful Gospel, is our gospel and make even our feet beautiful as we carry it everywhere we go and around the world. His mission is our mission and His calling upon our lives is our joy. It is our joy to do the will of Him who sent His Son and now sends us. It is our joy to bring pleasure to the King.
Pastor, Church Leader, Follower of Christ, do not give up. Do not grow weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9). Our God who is big enough to save us from our sin, our shame, and our separation from His presence is most definitely big enough to empower us for the mission to which he has called us.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
Dr. Josh Carter is CABA's Leadership Catalyst. He also pastors Clough Pike Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Oh. 
Posted on May 16, 2017 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
As a 12-year-old, I remember peering through the chain link fence, watching the high school boys track team practicing.  One event that fascinated me was the high hurdles.  I was amazed that the fastest guy in the sprint was not always the fastest guy on the hurdles—technique and execution was even more important than speed when hurdling.  Managing the hurdles carelessly could easily result in the loss of the race and even personal injury.  I’ve discovered there are hurdles to overcome in growing your Sunday School/Small Group as well. 
Here are a few:
The spiritual hurdle of prayer and biblical wisdom.  The remedy is easy enough on a personal level, but it is also easily neglected.  We generally do not have a human quiet-time coach, reminding us that we need a steady diet of the Word of God.  It is easy to get out of shape in one’s prayer life due to simple neglect of regular exercise.  The Holy Spirit’s wisdom and power are readily available, but due to our inattention toward spiritual disciplines, we become less attentive to His divine counsel.  Likewise, when a small group neglects to get seriously engaged in the Word and prayer, the enabling power of the Holy Spirit is untapped and the group struggles.
The leadership hurdle of clear, compelling vision.  As a church, we have a vision to grow the church through growing, discipling Sunday School classes.  But where does the vision for your class come?  Of course, the Lord gives vision, but He gives that vision through the leader of the class—the Sunday School teacher.  If the teacher does not have vision to reach and disciple people, the class will stagnate and begin to decay.  Imagine what would happen if each of our classes could grow 20% each year.  For most classes, that means enrolling four or five new people a year.  Imagine again, if those new people begin growing and getting serious about worshiping God, growing in spiritual maturity and sharing Jesus with a lost world.  Let’s also imagine groups that are developing apprentices who will become new leaders who can continue to multiply the vision.  That is an exciting finish-line for each of us to focus on in the work of the Lord.
The attitude hurdle of an inward focus.  When we lose sight of the harvest we’ve lost the race.  An inward focus is not something we generally develop on purpose.  It is more often an attitude issue that gradually creeps in.  Member care is a vital part of every healthy Sunday School class.  It is good to focus on one another’s needs.  It is good when we carry out the “one-another’s” of the New Testament, just not to the neglect of the Great Commission.  An athlete focuses on eating right, but if she neglects exercise and skill development, she will become a well-fed failure.  A small group is healthy when it cares well for its members, but without becoming deliberate and intentional about ministry and evangelism toward others outside the group, it becomes unhealthy and weak. 
Hurdles are part of the race to the finish line.  Hurdles are a part of the course.  Don’t be discouraged that the hurdles are there—they are part of the landscape.  Understanding that will protect us from giving up and excusing a poor performance.  Hurdles are learning opportunities and they help us to know what to plan for as we look to the days ahead.  Dr. Ben Carson said, “Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
David Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on May 12, 2017 7:09 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
While I was leading a Bible study on spiritual warfare, one woman spoke up and said, “I don’t have to worry about spiritual warfare. I don’t witness, so Satan leaves me alone.”

What blessings this lady was missing in seeing others have a personal relationship with Jesus. To their credit, those who were in the Bible study stifled their shock and expressed their concern.

For the past 15 years, I have had a dozen prayer warriors who have committed to pray for me at least one time every week. They pray every week for my family because the first day of each month, I send out an email to them asking them to pray for Mary Leigh, my wife, and me. I’m detailed and specific. Sometimes I give them the exact date prayer cover is needed. They are partners in God’s mission in my life.

Ask any missionary what they need most and that they will usually say, “Prayer!” Southern Baptist missionaries are always grateful that the Cooperative Program giving from our churches provides their financial support. They don’t have to raise money, but they still have to do “friend-raising.” They raise their own support for volunteers to visit to augment their work and especially for providing prayer cover for them. The same for your associational missionary, too!

A prayer leader at the IMB once said, “Prayer doesn’t get you ready for missions. Prayer IS missions.” I agree. Prayer doesn’t force God to do anything and prayer is not a Santa wish-list. It is a supernatural way of connecting with God and aligning with His will and His purposes.

Involving others–at least one dozen—in what God has called you to do. It blesses you and them, too! How do you mobilize effective prayer? Here are two ideas:

1. Paint a word picture by telling your story. When we say, “Pray for the XX number of Navajo who are lost,” that’s one thing—generic and cold. It’s another to say, “Pray for my wife and I working with Sally. Sally is 14 and being pressured into sex trafficking. Pray that she will hear the good news of Jesus.” It’s specific, urgent, and still warm.

2. And don’t forget that sharing answers to specific prayer requests encourages more praying as the focus increasingly brings glory God. It’s not bragging, but allowing prayer warriors to celebrate with you!
Recruit at least a dozen prayer supporters who will engage in spiritual warfare alongside you. And consider joining CABA’s Prayer Team. Email Roger Hauck at
This year’s Associational Week of Prayer is scheduled May 14-20. Packets have been mailed to each church. Contact the CABA office to request pew envelopes and prayer guides. We have plenty!
Posted on May 8, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
I can still remember my wife giving me a few tips when I was preparing my very first sermon. She said, “Pray much, study hard and don’t use me for a sermon illustration.”  Those were helpful tips and I have generally followed two out of three!  No matter how long you have taught, it doesn’t hurt to get a few friendly teaching tips.  Recently, I was able to spend a few hours with David Apple, a conference leader for LifeWay.  He shared several tips I’d like to develop for you today.
There are three basic parts for a good teaching session.  The first is to create interest.  This helps to draw the learners in, so they will participate in the lesson.  This is where we use a catchy story, a meaningful illustration, a fun activity, etc. that will create interest for the pupils and allow them to get engaged in the lesson.  A wise teacher understands that boredom is every teacher’s enemy.  If a learner is bored from the start of the lesson, you will likely never gain her attention.
The second part of a lesson is to discover and apply the Word of God.  The word “discover” is key.  We tend to retain and apply what we have discovered, while we tend to be indifferent and forget what we have merely been told.  Jesus was the Master at asking provoking questions to help people discover the truth.  The word “apply” is also vital—the Pharisees knew what the Bible said, but they often missed the life-change and attitude-change that learning the Bible requires. 
The third basic part of a teaching session is to bring closure to the lesson.  Here we summarize, fit the lesson into the bigger picture of God’s redemptive plan and challenge the learners to deeper personal study after class.  The closing of the lesson is likely to be the most memorable part of the lesson.  If we are not careful, we can be like the athlete who competes well but stops short of the finish line.  Or, imagine a farmer who does a great job planting and cultivating, but never brings in the harvest.   All three of these basic parts are essential for a strong lesson.
There are three basic questions to ask while preparing a Bible lesson.  The first question is “What am I teaching?”  This means understanding the context of the passage you are teaching as well as the content.  It means having a grasp on the word meanings and how these ideas are handled in other parts of the Bible.  This anticipates what the learners may need to understand to better comprehend the passage you are teaching.
The second question is, “Who am I teaching?”  What are your students going through, what struggles are they experiencing, where are they in their walk with Christ?  We will often need to adapt our teaching style to the learning level and the receptivity of the pupil.  Children learn well in the context of play.  Teens are going to be responsive to cool technology or more social activities.  Some adults may enjoy a conference-style lecture, while others want more discussion in the class.  All learners are responsive to genuine love and encouragement.
The final question is, “How am I teaching?”  Most every teacher needs to learn to use a variety of teaching styles.  Someone has said, “The worst way to teach is the way you teach all the time.”  An illustrated lecture may work well, but maybe not every week.  Following a question and answer approach may be a nice change for your class members.  If you use a discussion approach to your class on a regular basis, it might be good to mix it up with more activity or role-playing.  Mixing up how you teach keeps people curious and every teacher knows that when a student is curious, he is much more teachable.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.