8 Effective Teaching Methods for Online Bible Study

If you're in a Zoom teaching slump, try these ideas for engaging group members.

People meeting on a computer

How about strengthening the verbal and visual teaching styles to liven up your Zoom Bible study class and at the same time increase the effectiveness of your virtual teaching?

It’s been approximately seven months since churches closed their doors, including Bible study classes, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Some churches have returned to face-to-face Bible study, but most have not. Those who are still using the videotelephony services of Zoom or other similar platforms for Bible study may be starting to fall into a teaching slump. But there is help within your grasp. How about strengthening the verbal and visual teaching styles to liven up your Zoom Bible study class and at the same time increase the effectiveness of your virtual teaching?

The Power of Words

The verbal teaching style and the Zoom platform fit together like a hand and glove. Verbal teaching is the most widely used teaching style and the easiest to use in the physical classroom or on a virtual platform, so teachers naturally gravitate to it. Therefore, reading, speaking, writing, and listening encompasses most of the learning activities in the classroom. The good news is that these activities are easily transferable from a physical environment to the Zoom platform. This teaching style is what gives words power to impact learning and life-change.

Throughout history, words have been used to shape and impact the lives of Christians. The oral traditions of many cultures have made Bible stories real and applicable in the lives of people for generations. That’s the power of words. The oral tradition is not lost today but lives on as a teaching style. Consider incorporating the following verbal teaching techniques to power up your teaching on zoom:

  • Invite learners to debate an issue.
  • Be transparent by sharing how a particular Scripture verse or passage has meaning in your personal life. Also, invite your learners to share a personal story.
  • Read several different versions or translations of the Bible study passage during teaching.
  • Read the passage or a verse more than once, placing emphasis on different words each time.
  • Use brainstorming for ideas in applying passages or resolving life issues.
  • Use the following directives for verbal teaching: give examples, interpret, read, discuss, convince, debate, summarize, restate, elaborate, argue, explain, embellish, define, answer, paraphrase, and recall.

The Impact of Images

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This statement describes the second most used teaching style in the classroom. One mere image can convey several different ideas at once and impact learning in a way that words cannot. For example, a picture of Christ suffering and dying on the cross can engender deep emotions of grief, sympathy, and anger. It can also inspire hope because Christ’s death is humanity’s opportunity to be freed from sin. Through television, computers, and other electronic devices, we see thousands of images every day. Each image ingrains a message that reaches our minds and/or our hearts. That’s the impact of images in our lives.

Like verbal teaching, visual teaching translates well over the zoom platform. You have the means literally at your fingertips for helping learners to “see” the lesson to be studied. One of the best tools for visual learning is your computer. Use it to its fullest extent when teaching a zoom Bible study class. Consider using these visual teaching techniques:

  • Encourage learners to visualize something.
  • Use PowerPoint.
  • Show video clips.
  • Invite learners to sketch their thoughts about something and share with the group.
  • Use graphs, timelines, postures, and pictures to help learners to see what they are studying. (Note that many visuals are available in Leader Packs with LifeWay Bible study curriculum.)
  • Use the following directives for verbal teaching: visualize, show, list, draw, design, observe, reproduce, enlarge, illustrate, diagram, or graph.

"How about strengthening the verbal and visual teaching styles to liven up your zoom Bible study class and at the same time increase the effectiveness of your virtual teaching?"

Christina Zimmerman

Other Teaching Styles

Even though verbal and visual teaching are most suited for and easy to incorporate into virtual teaching on the zoom platform, don’t neglect the other six teaching styles. They are relational, reflective, logical, physical, musical, and natural. These teaching styles can engage learners and impact them through their own personal learning styles—even on zoom. Try these suggestions:

  • Learners can be placed in zoom breakout rooms for relational interaction.
  • Also invite learners to reflect on passages of Scripture or other content for reflective learning.
  • Problem solving should never go out of vogue in the classroom for logical learners.
  • Physical learners can be asked to act out a Bible character or something related to the study.
  • Music can be played or sung to engage musical learners.
  • Finally, nature can be introduced into the Bible study through pictures or another visual tool.

Keep your well of teaching ideas filled so that you don’t fall into a teaching slump. Strengthen your teaching and engage learners through the effective use of verbal and visual teaching, two styles that can be easily incorporated into a virtual teaching plan. And don’t neglect the other six teaching styles.

Christina Zimmerman is content editor for YOU Sunday school curriculum at LifeWay Christian Resources.

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