4 parts to an effective lesson plan

A BLUEPRINT for preparing any message

Someone once said that it is easy to write a book. You keep notes on a certain subject and fill up a shoebox with them. When the shoebox is full—then you have a book!

I’m not sure it is quite that easy, but it does get you thinking about it. After all, during years of speaking to kids and adults, I have accumulated not just one shoebox but drawers and file cabinets of message making materials. This would include

Attention getting lead-ins
Helpful tips
Spellbinding anecdotes
Inspirational Thoughts
Fascinating Statistics
Illustrations—both pictorial and verbal
One of these or a combination of several could be the key to formulating a 
captivating lesson or message.

The basic element of a message is: “Tell them what you’re going to say, say it, and tell them what you said”. But there are supplementary elements that can be laid on that foundation to ensure your message will be both understood and even outstanding. The very best messages include strong examples to illustrate a theme, and to make the information and lesson stick in the mind of those who hear it.

This could be a BLUEPRINT for preparing any message!

Why Use a Lesson Plan?

  • Helps to establish the purpose of the lesson.
  • Ensures time is used effectively
  • Unity, order and continuity enable the pupils to understand the lesson more clearly.
  • A planned lesson helps the teacher to teach. The teacher can teach with much more confidence when there is a plan to follow.
  • Planned lessons are interesting lessons to the pupil.
  • An unplanned lesson is a half taught lesson. The teacher can give more time to teaching when the lesson is planned.

What is a Lesson Plan?

A lesson plan is a brief step-by-step arrangement of the material and methods which a teacher intends to use in order to help his or her pupils learn.

Content of a Lesson Plan

  1. An objective, or aim.
  2. Materials or lesson aids.
  3. Plan of presentation. This will cover the method you intend to use.

The suggested method from the book Creative Bible Teaching is in four steps:
a. Hook: How do I plan to begin this lesson? The first moments of the lesson are critical if I am going to get the attention of the pupils. Using a variety of lesson openings will prevent boredom.
b. Book: Main points in the Bible study.
c. Look: Main points of application. The pupil is made to ask, "How does this affect me?"
d. Took: How do I plan to get the pupils to act on what they have heard? How do I plan to close?

EVALUATION How do I plan to evaluate the learning process?

Key questions in the summary can aid in evaluation.


In other words, ask yourself “WHAT IS MY MESSAGE ABOUT?” Then answer the question in ONE SENTENCE. 
I want them to KNOW …………….
I want them to GET INVOLVED in …………
I want them to SEE……….
I want them to UNDERSTAND ………..
Try and make that sentence as short and concise as you can—it will help to keep both you and them focused.

Topics and goals should be quite specific. For instance….
Poor: The pupil will know about the Love of God
Better: The pupil will be able to describe the love of God by quoting John 3:16

Poor: The student will discuss the testing of Jesus
Better: The student will be able to list the three ways the Devil tested the Lord Jesus

Poor: To help a child realize man’s need and God’s remedy from the story of Nicodemus
Better: The child will be able to quote a verse from the story of Nicodemus which will describe man’s need and a verse describing God’s remedy

In fact, after you have identified what you want—try and reduce the actual theme to a single word. You may not be able to do that, but it is a good exercise to think through. Don’t bother trying to prepare your message unless you are clear about the topic and purpose! We need to remember what we are trying to accomplish?

Effective aims should be:

  1. Clear. It should communicate what you intend.
  2. Concise.
  3. Attainable.
  4. Stated in terms of pupil behaviour. What will the student know at the end of the lesson? How will you measure or evaluate this?
  5. Specific. You should be able to measure a degree of achievement in the pupil.

Now that you know what your message is about. Write the line you hope to open with. Tell them what you are going to tell them. 
Here are a few examples:
Today I want to tell you the story about “Seven Ducks in Dirty Water” ( Naaman the Syrian )
Today I want you to help me identify the problem that ruined the life of “Samson”
I am going to speak today about how Biblical CONVICTIONS  can make a difference. ( Daniel & Friends )
Our objective today is to examine the Testimony of One Believer and what it led to! ( Little Maid )

This may not end up being the first line in your lesson but to begin the process of constructing your message, you need a strong anchor—and what could be better than your aim and topic?


Okay, now you know what you are going to talk about. What key points need to be included? If this is your style, get three or four small cards. ( A good message does not have dozens of key points, or we will lose our audience—three or four supplementary key points should be plenty to back up the main theme of the message.) Put a key point on each card. Here’s an example from the bible story of 
ABRAHAM’s FAITH TESTED and the FAVOURED MAN FAILS. (from Gen. 12:10– 13:1)
Attention Getter: Did you ever make a choice that turned out wrong? Anyone have an example they want to share?
MAIN THEME: Way seems right 
KEY POINT 1. Sad things happen—
(Famine—sorrows occur. God’s promises never fail but He tests us.)
KEY POINT 2. When you can’t trust God….
The man who obeyed God’s Word and trusted His promise for eternal and spiritual blessings couldn't trust God for everyday needs
KEY POINT 3. It comes down to CHOICE
Choice—Abraham made a sad choice. Lots of consequences. Hagar came out of Egypt. Sarah was affected by it. Lot’s choice of Sodom may have been because of going down to Egypt here. Isaac seemed to have the same tendency too as God instructed him not to go down to Egypt Gen. 26:2.
KEY POINT 4. Fear and Disobedience Always bring Trouble
See if students can recall and compare other incidents where this was true and choices led to even bigger trouble

Not all points in any story need to be used. Make good use of the ones that serve the Main Theme or Point. Keep them before you lest you go astray yourself…. and those who listen lose interest and miss the message.

With your key points cards before you. You can either put another blank card underneath each or if your card has room— use the space at the bottom for those things you wish to add in order to support your Key Points

(famine—sorrows occur. God’s promises never fail but He tests us.)

Support: Troubles put us in a tough situation. Nobody likes troubles. Use a short personal or public domain story showing how, for example, a PURCHASE that was made turned out so badly.

When a message about problems is translated  into real-life situations, it is amazing how quickly the students begin to see how it could fit into their life. This is where you use Anecdotes, Inspirational Thoughts, Statistics, or Illustrations to Support the truths you present.

So now you’ve told them what you are going to talk about. You’ve talked about it. Hopefully with conviction and feeling! (I have sometimes listened to a message and I wanted to jump up and say, Do you really believe that? REALLY?  Are you sure???!!) Hopefully, we truly manifest that we really believe the message! 
Now it is time to tell them what you told them. 
An example: 
We have been looking at how much a single CHOICE can affect the life of Abraham—those choices also affected his wife, and his servants, and his neighbors, and his children. Difficulties will come. Sometimes we are afraid of doing the right thing. Choices will have to be made. Some times the right choice can seem costly. But making the wrong choices can cost tremendously more.  (and perhaps after a brief pause, it is time to ask, Does anyone have any questions?)

The May, June and July-August Issues of The ENCOURAGER have presented 5  BASIC elements. 


Format for writing a plan

From Preparation to Presentation...

Notes To Build Lesson

Story notes that seem essential:
Main Theme that Arises: *
Verses that seems to suit above:
Ideas to get their attention: **
How can I sum up what I've been
teaching in a quick and effective way?
Illustration ideas to reinforce truth:


Lesson Plan & Notes

Main Point:***_____________________
Attention Getter: **
Points Necessary to Story: ****
Illustration 1
Illustration 2
Sum up Main Point:
Additional Notes & Ideas:


* If more than one main point appears clear to you - break lesson in two. If it really grabs you it may be important to teach the lesson again from a different angle / emphasis! If not - leave it alone because it won't affect the class either.

** To get their attention

*** Keep it clearly before you - that is where you want to go. If you don't know where you are going, neither will the student.

**** Simply present it's story and truth