Teach the Word – Introductions

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD INTRODUCTIONS

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c. 215) compared successful catechesis to a game of catch. The game relies not just on the skill of the thrower but also on the readiness of the one catching to join the rhythm of the game.1 How ready are your adult learners to join the rhythm of the game when they come to your Bible class? You’ve worked hard on your Bible study all week and are eager to share God’s Word with them. You are focused and ready to go, but your students are still thinking about the guy who cut them off in traffic while they were on the way to church.

I used to think I was doing a fairly good job with my introductions, but they were usually of the sermon-variety: I would do the speaking while my students sat passively listening. Dialogic learning proponents say that no lesson should start without a task by the students. An introductory task not only serves to warm up their brains, like an athlete warming up for a competition, it is also a way to signal to the class that this will be a lesson in which the teacher doesn’t do all the talking—he is interested in what the students think and feel.2

Here’s an example of a learning task introduction for a lesson on Daniel 5.

List 10 memorable meals from the Bible. You have 60 seconds. Go. (The introduction continues as follows, after the brainstorming session is done.)

Did you realize that there were so many memorable meals in the Bible? Today we’re going to take a closer look at one meal in particular. We’ll call it the “Dinner of Doom.” This Dinner of Doom will warn us away from sinful attitudes that would disqualify us from the most important meal of all—the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

The bonus of having a clear introduction is that you can return to it at the conclusion. After all, your introduction should be an arrow aimed at the heart of your lesson.
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1Paul Turner, The Hallelujah Highway: A History of the Catechumenate, (Stevens Point, WI: Liturgy Training Publications, 2000), 24.
2Paul D. Nitz, “A Practical Overview of Dialogue Education,” paper supplied via email (Revised May 2014): 9.

From Teach the Word © Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.