The process of preparing a message is not an academic exercise. It’s a personal encounter with God. If the truths you teach are never applied to your own life, you will quickly become a hypocrite. As you get ready to teach, expect God to meet with you and work in your life. Here’s how to insure that happens.
Prepare yourself prayerfully.
Before you look at the message resources, take time to pray. Ask God to speak to you. Invite the Holy Spirit to bring insight and conviction to your mind and heart. Confess any known sin that could hinder your spiritual perception. Maintain this attitude of prayerful listening throughout the preparation process.
Realize that you are under the authority of God’s Word just as much as your audience. The privilege of teaching the Bible does not confer any kind of superiority on you. Accept that you need what God is saying as much as – or more than – the people who will hear you teach.
Read the Bible.
Don’t just interact with the sermon resources. If you have notes and outlines provided, you may be tempted to neglect the Bible itself. Open your Bible. Read the passages in the message several times. Read the larger context – at least the whole chapter. Read studiously to understand the meaning of the text. But also read prayerfully and devotionally to seek God’s presence and meet with him.
Apply it to your life first.
As you sit down to prepare, it’s common to think immediately about the needs of your audience. Learn to think first about your own life before you start applying what you learn to the lives of others. If someone else was teaching this message, what would they need to say to you?
Go beyond just action.
As the Holy Spirit speaks to your life through your study, you may be led to some action step. But God may want to speak to you in other ways as well. He may give you new wisdom for how to assess a new or perplexing situation. He may reaffirm some long-known truth. He may simply remind you of his love and care, or affirm to your spirit that you’re doing well.
Here’s the point: whenever you teach, expect to meet with God for yourself, not just to prepare a message for others.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Why is humility an important starting point in preparing to teach?
- What happens to you if you consistently neglect applying your teaching to your own life?
- What happens to your hearers if you consistently neglect applying your teaching to your own life?
- Why is it important to read and study the Bible rather than just reading about what’s in the Bible?
- Talk about a time when you sensed God speaking to you during your teaching prep. What happened?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.