The Problems with Video Curriculum in Bible Class

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From time to time I have used video curriculum in my teaching. There are some really great ones out there including Faith Lessons with Ray VanderLaan, the Song of Solomon with Tommy Nelson, Nooma with Rob Bell, and a ton of great stuff put out by Northpoint with Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio. Video curriculum has its place in our arsenal of tools for teaching a quality Bible class.

However, there are some drawbacks to these as well.

  1. It gets cost prohibitive to use them for small group study. Imagine having 10,20, or 40 small groups and having to purchase 40 copies of the same DVD at $15 each for all your groups just to be used once.
  2. It limits your discussion time. You get a master teacher in the room at a low cost. Those are good things. But often videos run 30 minutes or longer and leave you with a list of six or seven things to discuss in the remaining few minutes. The meat of a Bible class is not in listening to the teacher. The meat is reflecting on God’s Word and having time to discuss what it means and what we are to do about it. Videos often don’t leave time for the most important part of the class.
  3. If the class teacher/leader has a great deal of credibility, those in the class would probably rather hear the lesson coming from someone they know and respect rather than from a stranger, even a very gifted stranger.
  4. Credibility – there is not an automatic connection with the class from someone they don’t know. Often speakers use humor and things like that to engage people they don’t know. If you teach regularly and have a relationship with the class you don’t have to cut through all that on the front end and that opens up more time to get into the meat of the class. I have heard some guys do a 20 minute intro to a class just to get people’s attention before really diving in. That can get ridiculous.
  5. It is passive. We are trying to engage people and make them active participants in growing their own faith. Video curriculum makes the class passive observers. It isn’t interactive. We don’t want people to become the audience. That is what happens when you show a video.

Video curriculum can be great when used in small quantities. But don’t rely on it. Don’t allow it to become a crutch.

0 Responses

  1. Great point, Matt. I think it’s nice in a short series or even in a situation where you can watch a video every other week to allow time for discussion. One way in which a disadvantage can become an advantage is when the video brings up a controversial topic. Class members are more likely to voice disagreement with a video than they are to disagree with a trusted, credible teacher. This allows the teacher to facilitate conversation on difficult and debatable topics without making anyone feel wrong for their point of view. The Alpha series is a prime example of this.

    1. That is a great point. That happened some when we did Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church Video series. Made for some good interaction on a few controversial topics.

  2. Good post. I used to teach a sunday school class for the youth, and I often found that studying the Word and preparing the lesson often times helped me grow spiritually more than it even helped the rest of the class. When you pop in a disc to watch, it cuts down on the learning that you have to do ahead of time to be able to teach the lesson and prepare yourself for questions.

  3. excellent points! In addition to video limits…our Ladies class tends to work off books – which has the similar limitation mentioned above. We recently decided to take a book break and study Ephesians ‘free style’ and it is exhilirating! Chapter 3 is next week – we may just read it out loud, and get on our knees and mirror Paul’s example and PRAY EARNESTLY to know more how high, deep, wide and long is His love. That others may too…you included!

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