Bible Teaching Methods: Methodology for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Case Studies

Students analyze and seek solutions for a real life situation that has been presented to them to work on individually or through discussion as a whole class or in small groups.

In Choosing Teaching Methodology consider your group factors:

Click on a factor or scroll down.

Teacher Training Worksheet Based on These Group Factors:
Tips for Choosing & Using Methods

Group size
This method can be used with any size class. If the group has more than 12-15 students, you should break them into smaller groups in order to have maximum participation.

Resources needed
Depending on your means of presenting the case studies to the class, you may need a handout for every student or for each small group. You may use an audio tape, video, or pictures resulting in the need for it and the equipment required to use it.

Objective targeted
Because case studies are about problem-solving, this method is good for helping students in the application of truth in real life situations. Ultimately the intent would be that they could make the correlation or use the skills learned through this process to their own situations in life. Case studies take students to higher levels of learning as they require critical thinking and reflective judgment. Students must break down a complex situation and bring in to bear what they have already learned from other sources to come up with a solution.

Use modeled
Some of Jesus' parables could be likened, in principle, to case studies. Jesus would sometimes present a situation and then ask questions about it.
Business and law schools have traditionally used case studies. The practical emphasis they bring to the classroom makes them a good method to also use in the church setting.

Proximity of others
The noise level should be no greater than a typical discussion. If you break into smaller groups to discuss the case study, you will have a louder volume due to a number of people talking at once but it still should not be excessive.

Finances needed
Generally the cost to use case studies would be minimal, limited to handouts. However, if you use a video or audio tape to present the case, you may have some rental or purchase costs involved.

Age level
This method may be used effectively in written, video, or taped form with middler to junior age level through adults. Developing their own case through field study would be better suited for teens through adults.

Case studies will involve some teacher to student dialog but should turn into largely group interaction.

Time required
Plan on a minimum of 10-30 minutes but case studies can easily consume a whole session if not guarded. You may need to set time limits for discussion based on time available and content that needs to be communicated before and after the case(s). You will generally cover less content during a session when this method is employed. The more involved the situation is, the more time may be needed to analyze and discuss.

Openness of group
Any kind of discussion can be threatening for those with timid personalities and for people not accustomed to participating in class. Generally people have a positive reaction once into the process as people like stories of real people with whom they can identify. Because of the open-ended nature of case studies and the need to be tolerant of many opinions, those who tend to see life issues as cut and dry or those who are more closed-minded may struggle with this kind of methodology a little.

Room size
Almost any size room will work with this method as long as students are within hearing range of all discussion. If you are breaking into small groups, you will need space to gather in clusters.

Skills needed

Pre-Class Preparation: Unless the case studies are already written into a printed curriculum you are using, you will need to make decisions about the means of formulating the case study and gather an idea for it. You will then be ready to write the case.
Means of Formulating a Case Study:

  • Teacher formulated - The teacher chooses or writes the case study.
  • Student formulated - The students, in class, as individuals or as a small group project, prepare the case study.
  • Field formulated - The students go out into society to observe, analyze, and report on the experiences of real people.

Getting Ideas for a Case Study:

Generally case studies are about real people in a real world. Ideas can be found in a variety of places.

  • articles
  • autobiographies
  • biblical characters
  • biographies
  • documentaries
  • experience of own life
  • experience of people you know
  • experience of students' lives
  • fictional stories
  • history
  • movies
  • TV drama

Tips for choosing ideas:

  • Use life situations where the answer isn't mere obedience to a command of God but rather requires pulling on principles of Scripture to discern the course to be taken.
  • Use a multifaceted story in which a number of opinions are possible. Do not use something for which the answer is so simplistic that it is immediately obvious.
  • Use situations that fit the aim of your lesson.
  • Use situations that are meaningful and relevant to your students.
  • Use discretion when relaying the experience of people you know. Respect their privacy. You may want to get their permission to use the story. You may need to change names and other identifying details to protect them.

Writing a Case Study:

Typical format for a case study would be:

  • crisis presented in capsulized form
  • crisis explained by going back to what led up to it
  • crisis restated in capsulized form
  • crisis discussed using questions ... 3-5 maximum, starting with a simpler question

Tips for writing case studies:

  • Write factually and not interpretively. Students are the ones to do the analysis.
  • Write it long enough to include enough information to help them solve the problem but not so detailed as to bore or overwhelm them. The younger the students, the shorter the case study should be.

In-Class Procedure:

  1. The teacher prepares students for this method.
    --What is the purpose?
    --What is the procedure?
    --What is proper discussion etiquette?
  2. The teacher presents the case studies.
    --in writing ... narrative, poem, etc.
    --on an audio tape
    --visually ... video, role-play, cartoon, pictures/photos, etc.
  3. The students analyze the case.
    --identify the real issues
    --ask what the contributing factors are ... why the problem came about
    --consider biblical principles that apply to the situation
  4. The students seek solutions to the problem.
    --come up with alternative solutions
    --weigh the pros and cons of the different possibilities
  5. The students determine which alternative may be the best solution.
  6. The teacher summarizes their findings.
  7. The teacher and students evaluate the process and agree on the next step or a course of action they should pursue based on how it applied to their own lives.
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(Last updated 7/01/17)