Let’s start with the obvious. We live in a visual society. Media is everywhere … and often seems to drive everything.
It makes sense, then, to incorporate media into a group Bible study. But let’s do it with caution.
Media may drive our world, but I don’t want it driving my group. My Bible study group is not about media. It’s about relationships. It’s about people interacting together around God’s Word.
That doesn’t mean media can’t play a part in the group experience. Media might support the group study and discussion, but it will never replace it. Here are three points to keep in mind.
1. Keep it simple.
Movie clips: Anything longer than 2-3 minutes is too long. If it takes a longer clip to get to the point you want to make, the point can get easily lost.
PowerPoint/Keynote slides: Nancy Duarte has written the definitive book on crafting presentations: Slide:ology. And her key word? Simple! We tend to fill a slide with words, turning it more into a document than a presentation. Thanks to this book, I’ve developed the practice of using only 1-3 words on a slide. Simple images also communicate more than a teaching outline on slides.
One way to keep your presentations simple is to lose the animation and cute transitions from one slide to another. They only draw attention to themselves and distract from the point. After awhile, they just get annoying.
2. Don’t overuse.
Does your group have to hear a song or watch a video clip every week? I know one leader who incorporates a Peanuts cartoon every week into his study.
Variety in the way we approach teaching and learning actually enhances our ability to comprehend and make like connections. But if we use the same method every week, we can lose that edge. Even a movie clip every week can simply feel routine.
3. Use it … if it fits.
We see a clip that is way cool or it moves us, and we’re determined to wedge it into our study … whether it really fits or not. If you have to think beyond two seconds on how you can use the clip—if the connection is not obvious—leave it at home.
Many of us are visually oriented, and we often have our eyes out for images, music, and videos we can use in our group Bible study. And because we live in a culture consumed with imagery and media, we mistakenly think media is vital to our study. Media makes the study feel current and relevant, right?
I can’t stress this enough. Group study is about relationships. Media is a nice occasional touch, but years from now, members of your group will remember the conversations over God’s Word, not the funny cat video.
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at Lifeway. He and his wife, Mary, lead a Bible study group for young adults and have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Follow him on his blog at lynnhpryor.com.