Bible Class Takeover — What Do You Do?


This question came from PreacherStuff, an email service from Dr. Dan Williams,

How do you deal with a “Bible class takeover”? What do you do when a guy in the audience consistently takes the class hostage by talking too much during a discussion-oriented Bible class? I know I have seen something about that in the past, maybe from this email group. Any ideas? Thanks.


The best time to solve that problem is before the first lesson in the class. You’re having the issue because of the rules you have or don’t have for the class.

There’s a possibility you and they don’t know the rules because often group rules (family, congregation, preachers’ workshops, how we approach confronting a brother), are unconscious, unspoken, understood, and contradictory.

I begin my work with each church by explaining my rules during the first few weeks (each one at the beginning of sermons 5-7 on Sunday morning).

First Three Rules

Name Memory Rule

Communication Rules

Criticism Rule

Originality Rule

I begin each Bible class (Sunday and Wednesday) by negotiating rules. I start counseling sessions with new people with the rules. I begin stress sessions during preachers’ workshops with the rules.

Below are the rules I have in my toolbox. I don’t have every rule in every group. I use what I need for each group. I usually spend the first class period going over the rules. Click on the link or picture for an Ebook on guidelines:

Guidelines for a Good Discussion

“That takes a lot of time!”

It takes less time than letting someone take over the class; some get confused, and others are silent because they don’t feel safe talking when they don’t know the rules.

Orderly, productive groups set and follow good guidelines. Those are set at the beginning. It’s too late to buy a safe for the money taken an hour ago in a bank robbery.

Prevention is better than repair.

Rules are negotiated, not demanded. Usually, a soft reminder is sufficient: “We agreed to a rule in this class that we talk one at a time.”

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

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