Perhaps you’ve already heard this bit of wisdom. Whether you are a pastor in the pulpit or a parent leading family devotions, you want your listeners to be engaged and revived by the truth, not to conclude that the Scriptures are a drudgery.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; . . . the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:7–8). What a shame to bore someone with such riches!
Here are two effective methods for keeping listeners engaged.
First, fill your messages with multiple references to the whole wealth of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160). It’s exciting and encouraging to the soul to be reminded that the Bible is one book filled with many separate threads that all point back to one Author!
Second, ask questions. While it may be easier to resort to a lecture style, asking good questions keeps your listeners engaged with the Word. By interjecting thoughtful questions and waiting for (expecting!) answers, we ensure that our audience hears and connects with the message.
Recently, after discussing Jesus’s example of humility and service, I asked, “What might washing each other’s feet look like in our culture?”
The thoughtful and practical answers showed that the congregation was engaged and encouraged by the exercise. (It also seemed to wake up a few who had checked out earlier!)
Effective teaching is not just about making sure we hit all the main points in the outline. Rather, it is about connecting real people with the real and comprehensive source of truth. And dialogue, not monologue, has always been the best method of communication.
—Gary Vaterlaus, educational resource writer and developer