When it comes to teaching a bible study, most of us teachers merely worry about how well we communicate the adult bible study curriculum. We usually believe that this is what will decide whether or not we are successful. While this does play an important part in whether a group is growing and thriving or not, it does not even rank near the top of the list. Before we even utter our first word, our main priority should be building relationships with the people we will be teaching.
Building relationships first gives us so many wonderful benefits. There is of course the natural benefit of just getting to know someone new. God has called us to love people and build relationships with each other. We are to live in community with others the best we can. Not only did Jesus teach this but he also modeled it. Then his disciples and the early church followed that example. Relationships are at the foundation of who we are supposed to be. But beyond that it makes our communication of the adult bible study curriculum that much more effective. If you think back to the classes you have been a part of, be it at church or at school, I can almost guarantee that if you were honest you would say that the greatest experiences of learning and growth that you had came from the teachers who made a connection with you and had a more personal investment in you. It is like the old saying, “people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You are going to be talking about deep issues possibly and in order for those lessons to be effective people must feel like they are in a safe environment. They must feel a certain level of trust with you before they will get involved in discussion. This should not shock us. We are usually the same way. We are closed off at first but steadily open up as we gain a comfort level with others. Why would we expect anything different from someone else.
I love teaching. I get excited every time I get a new opportunity to communicate a lesson from the adult bible study curriculum we are studying. But in my years of experience I have found that my knowledge and excitement mean nothing until I build relationships with those whom I will be teaching.