I conceived of the Key to [understanding] the Bible in 2007 when I couldn’t find any book or material that reached the kernel at the heart of the Bible.  It was then called The Story of the Bible.  There were [are] study materials and books that had parts of it and touched on other parts.  I conceived of it, laid part of it out, and wrote part of it.  Charlene wrote parts, corrected my parts, and edited the whole thing [threw out much of what I wrote].  I have continuously worked on it in the years since.  Char and I did it in a small group, and then with individuals that came to our house.  She went over it with a friend and in 2011 I gave it to a high school Sunday school class under its new name, while still working to improve the whole thing.  It is now about as good and usable as I can make it.

The Key can be tailored as a high school or college course intended for anyone interested in learning what the Bible is about and how to understand it.  It focuses on objective truth – what the Bible says and what it means by what it says.  For believers, it is particularly helpful to clarify fundamentals and provides a great tool for working with others.  It combines training and teaching with discovery so there is plenty of homework (which also helps maintain continuity between meetings that are a week apart).  [See Procedures & Instructions and Tips on the first pages of corresponding student and instructor session 1 for other rules, procedures, expectations, and goals.]

It was originally set up in sessions for 1½ hour small group meetings where people committed to doing the homework and coming prepared to discuss their findings.  I divided the material into lessons for ¾ hour Sunday school classes.  The material is on my hard drive and a rewritable CD so I can alter it and take it to Sprint Print for punched and collated copies.  Student lessons are black and white and instructor sets are in color.  I’ve developed some supplementary materials as well.  I recommend purchasing a 1” binder to hold the paperwork.

My practice has been to send everyone taking the course a couple follow-up e-mails between meetings (day after and midweek) to clarify and supplement the lessons, alter the emphasis, get them thinking about the next lesson, and to encourage and remind them of various things.  This allows me recover from poorly worded comments by correcting or changing some statements.  Students can call or email me with questions or requests for materials.  Requested print-ready lessons are attached to replies.  I suggest they create a computer file to store Key e-mails in.

It has become my practice to have a helper [student] write on the board and a different one each week sit with me to conduct the class by calling on people for answers and to read informational statements and passages.  This frees me up to insert comments I might otherwise miss and watch over the class as a whole.  It also motivates them to prepare for class.

One of the most difficult things for me is to wait for responses, to be quiet and give people time to answer.  It is also difficult for me to limit the information I impart.  My natural inclination is to spew it all out.  But part of my philosophy of teaching is that only a certain amount and depth of information is wanted or welcome at any given stage.  So, my intent is to go over some of the passages and touch on some things, not try to cover everything or cover it thoroughly the first time through.  Consequently, there is good reason to go back over the lessons a second time later.  To do this, after the course we take a break and cover the 5 lessons in my Short Course.  Then we return to Key and go over the study more quickly from the perspective of the Instructor notes.  My goal is to equip and excite Christians to be teacher/trainers and make the lessons available to everyone who works through the course to use with their families and friends.