6 Ways to Customize Bible Journey for your Group
Wondering how to use Bible Journey for your group? Bible Journey courses are customizable to work for a variety of groups sizes, purposes and uses. Leaders have successfully used Bible Journey with big groups or entire churches, small groups, as a stand-alone curriculum, as an addition to church-wide teaching, as a supplement for college courses, as leadership development training and more! The options are nearly endless. If you’re still trying to decide how Bible Journey might serve your group needs, read through these 6 ways to customize Bible Journey for your group.
1. Vary the depth/intensity.
While Bible Journey is not an easy curriculum, there are a variety of ways to make it more or less rigorous, depending on the needs of your group. It’s also easy to vary the level of effort and intensity within a given group, allowing some members to work through the basic content while others dive much deeper into certain content and sections. All of the content is included within each Bible Journey subscription, but students may choose to:
- Focus simply on the explorer, or base, content. Watching the lectures, exploring the 360° on-site videos and exploring the other main content of the lessons provides a thorough study of the entire Bible.
- Dive deeper with bonus content. Extra reading, articles, videos and more provide an even deeper and more rigorous Bible Journey experience for those who want or need more training. In addition, students may choose to dive deeper into the bonus content in areas of particular interest to them, or may complete all of the bonus content for deeper overall training.
- Use some or all of the workbook exercises. The workbook content is available for all students and is a primary means for much of the interactive portions of Bible Journey, as well as providing space for reflection and exploration of the Scriptures. However, some students may choose to skip these exercises, while others may choose to go even deeper with the workbook content for a richer experience.
2. Customize the content included.
Bible Journey works well when worked through sequentially from beginning to end, providing an in-depth tour of the entire Bible. However, it can also be customized based on what is important to your group. Rather than working sequentially through the entirety of the curriculum, the group leader or teacher can create a syllabus of courses for students to work through. If you are using Bible Journey as a supplement to a college course, for example, you may want to choose to focus on the study (or courses) that correlate with the topics of your course.
While this may sound easier than it actually is, you will know what your group needs are the best—and after some familiarity with the curriculum, you may want to adapt what content is focused on for your group. We recommend:
- The Pentateuch and the Gospels: not only are these the first studies of each Testament (thus creating a foundation for the following courses), these studies hold some of our favorite content within Bible Journey.
- Acts & Paul’s Epistles: The courses on the epistles contain some amazing onsite videos and are chock-full of practical theology and application. Many groups find that this study is one of their favorites..
3. Expand the content.
Another way to customize Bible Journey for your group is to expand the content with supplemental material. Many churches like to supplement Bible Journey with additional denominational or other contextual content based on the group (i.e. we’ve seen urban, Black, multi-ethnic or collegiate contexts supplement with a variety of resources).
In addition, for those using Bible Journey for ministry groups or training, you may want to supplement with webcasts, podcasts, conferences or other training to share best practices and practical applications for your ministry. Those using Bible Journey for college courses may also want to supplement with additional readings, lectures, reflections or other content.
4. Adjust the pace of your studies.
This is an easy adjustment to make, and can help Bible Journey be more feasible for a variety of groups. Standard pacing for Bible Journey is about 3-6 hours per course. Many groups prefer to work through 1-2 lessons per week (about 30 mins – 2 hours of work outside of the group meetings). However, this can easily be adjusted as needed for your groups, as some groups find they might like to work through it more or less quickly. If your group is working through all of the workbook and bonus content as well, there will obviously be a slightly higher time commitment.
5. Tailor the timing.
Different groups will have different amounts of time to dedicate to their Bible Journey studies, so while adjusting the pace or content included can help groups customize Bible Journey for their schedule, you can also tailor your meetings or studies around the church calendar or a teaching schedule at your church to correlate Bible Journey studies to what is already happening.
Many churches find that tailoring meetings or studies around the church calendar—particularly Christmas and Easter—provides a valuable resource for study and reflection during those seasons. For example, you may want to adjust the start date of your meetings so that your studies of the Gospels correlates with the Advent or Lenten season. If you want to work around an academic calendar, starting a study by the end of September is a great way to get everyone in “school mode” and still finish by Thanksgiving. Then the 2nd and 3rd studies can be done between New Year’s and Memorial Day, thus completing a Testament within a single school year.
6. Switch up the sequencing.
Similarly to adjusting the timing for church calendar seasons, you can also modify the content used—or the sequencing of that content—to align with sermons or a preaching calendar for your church. While many groups do prefer to work through Bible Journey sequentially from start to finish, it’s not the only way to work through the curriculum.
Churches may wish to use a particular Bible Journey course or study to familiarize the congregation with the context or history of a given book, perhaps prior to or at the beginning of a new sermon series. Or churches may walk through a given study to provide deeper engagement with a section of the Bible. For example, if an upcoming sermon series on Phillippians is planned, church leaders may use Bible Journey to:
- Walk through the historical, cultural and geographical context of this letter by studying the Philippians course prior to the sermon series.
- Provide an opportunity for the congregation to dive even deeper in Philippians by studying the Bible Journey curriculum alongside the sermon series, perhaps as part of a Sunday School curriculum or in small groups during the week.
- Gain broader understanding into Paul’s epistles as a whole through the Acts & Paul’s epistles study, while taking a deep dive into Philippians through sermons.
Best Practices for Groups:
No matter how you’re using Bible Journey with your group, there are some best practices that will help everyone get the most out of their Bible Journey experience.
Small discussion groups
Most groups find that breaking into small groups of about 6-12 people works best for facilitating discussion during in-person meetings. If your group is already small—for example, if you’re using Bible Journey with community groups or small training groups—this won’t be a problem. However, if you’re doing Bible Journey as a church-wide study or with another similarly large group, it may be worth finding a way, either in-person or virtually, to have members split into smaller groups for richer discussions.
Flipped classroom style
Many groups have success with a flipped classroom approach for Bible Journey’s curriculum. With a flipped classroom approach, group members will work through some or all of the lessons or activities in the course on their own, and then return to the group for discussion and additional teaching. Having group time reserved for discussion and active learning often yields richer digestion and reflection of the material.
Incorporate a variety of elements into group meetings.
Many groups have the most success with incorporating a variety of elements in their sessions. Rather than focusing on just In the Text or In Front of the Text sections, for example, strive to include a variety of the lesson elements within your discussion. Ask open-ended questions that invite group members to share what struck them from the lesson, what they found the most interesting, or what questions they had after completing the lesson from that week. It’s also a good idea to prepare some questions about the key points you want your group to take away from that week’s lesson to be sure your group has a chance to discuss them.
Ready to get started with Bible Journey for your group? Our one-month free trial for church leaders allows you to access all of our course content and decide how to customize Bible Journey for your group. Start your free trial today!