Bible Exploration, just as its name says, is a time to explore God’s Word–to focus on him, to learn what great things he has done, and then to figure out how that affects our lives.
I once heard a pastor say that he always keeps three things in mind when he prepares a sermon:
Does it exalt the Lord Jesus?
Does it humble the creature?
Does it give hope?
Those are wise things for us to keep in mind, also, when we lead Bible Exploration.
A key element of Bible Exploration is camper participation. We don’t want kids to just sit and listen for 45 minutes, or we’ll lose them. We need to give them the opportunity to compare, to analyze, to dissect, to debate, to draw, to write, to portray, to wonder, to imagine–whatever helps them to deal with and understand a passage better. Youth Bible study lessons should include options and ideas for those kinds of activities.
If at all possible, try to have Bible Exploration outdoors. Have a blanket or a tarp for everyone to sit on or use a picnic table if available. Sit so you can maintain eye contact with all your campers. Yes, there may be distractions–wind, bugs, lawn mowers–but relax. It’s camp! God can use any and every circumstance to speak to kids.
Here are a few more tips:
- Prepare early! Spend time mulling over the lesson and let it penetrate your own inner being.
- Make notes on a 4×6 index card (it won’t blow away easily) so you don’t have to read from the book.
- Encourage campers to think; avoid questions with yes/no answers.
- Allow campers time to think before answering; a little silence is okay.
- Treat campers’ questions and comments with respect.
- Admit when you don’t know an answer and offer to try to find it; remember to do it!
- Direct questions to different campers to avoid letting the same ones do all the talking.
- Assist campers in discovering what God’s Word says and keep your opinions and advice to a minimum.
- When you do need to give an explanation of something, make sure they’re following you by asking a question, such as, “Does that make sense?”
Finally, the most important quality you can bring to teaching is your own love and admiration for Jesus Christ. Creative methods and techniques aren’t worth much if they’re not combined with a delight in him. So if you’re young and inexperienced (or old and inexperienced), be patient. You’ll get better at teaching. If you are eager to dig into his Word and know him better, that will come through to the campers.