In the church, whether you teach toddlers, teenagers, or adults the goal is the same: life change. It’s not enough that people know the Scriptures, but that they are changed by them. Life change happens when we, as communicators, allow the Holy Spirit to present God’s Word through us so it inspires and equips those listening to put what was taught into practice. Here are 7 steps you can take that will help you teach in a way that brings about life change:
Everything that we do should be bathed in prayer. The best way to begin your message preparation is to spend time with God and ask Him what He wants you to say. Ask His guidance for what passage(s) of Scripture he wants you to teach out of. Ask Him to show you what changes you need to make in your life to better align with His Will before you tell other what God Will for them. Pray for your audience that their hearts and minds will be open and receptive to what God wants to say to them through you.
Once God has shown you where He wants you to teach from, begin to ponder the Scripture. Pour over it. Find out what other Biblically solid people have said and written on the verses God has guided you to. Listen to other sermons on the topic and Scriptures. The goal isn’t to copy what someone else has said, but to discover what God wants you to say.
Outline your talk around the truth(s) that God wants you to communicate from His Word. Use object lessons, stories, video clips, etc. that will help serve as a bridge from God’s Word to God’s people. Two great books that have helped me with this are Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields.
After you’ve completed your outline, run your notes and ideas by some trusted friends, co-workers, and peers. Get their feedback on what you’re trying to communicate and how you’re planning to communicate it. God uses other believers to speak to us. Be open to their feedback and make the changes that God is asking you to make through them.
One of the most helpful things I do before giving a message is to practice it out loud. I find a quiet, private place where I won’t be disturbed and give my talk out loud as though I were giving it to my audience. This may sound silly to some (there are days where it feels silly to do) but there’s something about saying it all out loud that I believe God uses to refine my words.
This is the moment of truth. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before you talk. Have a healthy breakfast. Spend time in God’s Word, pour over the text once more, and pray for God’s Spirit to move in you and in the people He has allowed you to speak to. Listening to Worship music can also be helpful. Don’t take on anything prior to your presentation that will drain you or distract you from the message God has asked you to preach (unless He specifically leads you to do so).
After you’ve given your talk, take some time to get some rest. Use the days following your teaching to reflect on how God moved and what feedback He’s trying to give you through your own impressions and the impressions of others. Probe your talk and discover what you did that worked, what didn’t, and what was missing. Take these learnings and apply them to your next talk.
Teaching others from God’s Word isn’t easy. Scripture tells us that not many should aspire to be teachers in the church because they will be judged more strictly by God (James 3:1). But if God has called you to teach His Word than you have a responsibility to continually work at it through the power of the Holy Spirit. These steps will help you do just that.