When I first began my journey into speaking and teaching the Bible, one question always found itself in the forefront of my mind. “How do I even begin the process of teaching Scripture?”
I knew I wanted to teach God’s Word well and, simultaneously, I was unsure of how to compose the things God was teaching me in my own walk with Christ in a clear and organized way.
There are eight steps I use when I am preparing to build a message for a Bible study, a women’s retreat, or to preach.
- Begin with prayer.
Ask God to lead you and send His Spirit to do the heavy lifting. Remember that it is in His power that we lead, teach, and speak. Begin with praise and worship, asking Him to give you wisdom and creativity.
- Immerse yourself in your primary passage of Scripture.
The core of any Christian message you teach will be centered around the Word of God. Let the Bible be the authoritative source of your teaching—not experience, opinion, or even practical wisdom. While you certainly can teach about a topic, your topic should be firmly rooted in a passage of Scripture, specifically one that features your topic as its main idea.
- Write out the passage and create a key word outline.
One method is to draw a line down the center of a lined page of paper, writing the Bible verses line by line on one side. Leave the other side for notes. My favorite method is to compose a key word outline. Simply described, a key word outline is a tool where you identify the three most important words in a sentence or statement. I write the three words I think are most important in the statement, while substituting abbreviations, numbers, and symbols for the others in the sentence.
- Identify important words by highlighting or circling them.
If you did a key word outline, you already have your important words. But if you wrote or typed out the text, go back and identify words that communicate the heart of the message.
- Do a word study.
Look up the word in its original language (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek). Define these words and make any applicable notes.
- Consult a commentary.
Commentaries are a great tool to use when studying the original audience of the Scriptures and how they would have understood it. Use this tool only after you have spent some time sifting through the passage.
- Create an outline. Most people make the mistake of creating an outline for a message first, which hinders your ability to communicate what God taught you as you studied. After you study your passage, consult commentaries. My favorite is the Moody Bible Commentary. Additionally, your outline should include an introduction, compelling illustrations, application points, and a conclusion.
- Use relational words.
This is my last pro tip for writing an outline. Ask God to give you wording that will speak to the heart of each person in your audience.
There is a quote that hangs on my office wall by John Koessler. I read it or think about it every time I sit down to write or teach:
“This is our conviction, despite the fear and trembling we feel when we stand before God’s people to declare His Word. Our aim is not merely to instruct, much less to entertain. We are waiting on the lightening and the thunder. Our aim is to raise the dead.”
Be encouraged as you develop your skills in speaking and teaching. It may feel intimidating, or even frightening. But the good news is that the focal point is on Jesus and the Spirit of the Lord carries His message into the hearts of those who hear.
Question: What is your favorite verse or passage of scripture to share with others in uncertain times?