Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to write, share, teach a devotion

How to write/share a devotional
Writing a devotional/Bible study doesn’t have to be stressful and make you panic.  God has something to say so let Him say it through YOU!
 1) Be in Prayer about it.  Maybe what you are currently learning in your relationship with God is something others need to hear too.  If you already have a topic- be in prayer over what God would want you to share.

2)Research your topic.  Make sure your Biblical facts are indeed facts.  Use a concordance to look up other verses that may also deal with your topic.  Commentaries can be great tools- but remember they are just tools!  Always make sure to read and re-read the passage first.  Struggle with the text and develop your own opinion on the passage before turning to someone else’s opinion.

3)      Know your audience.  Stories you might use may work better with some audiences than others.  If you start talking about farming practices in a room full of city businessmen you’ll probably lose their attention. If you’re talking about the latest pop sensation with a room full of homeschoolers- it may not work well.

4)      Exegesis.  A big word that simply means to carefully and systematically look at the passage to discover the original, intended meaning.  This is a 2 step process.  1st we look at context.  Context of a passage looks at: who the message was written to, historical issues, and surrounding passages.  2nd is content.  Content includes meaning of words, choice of words (in the original language), and grammatical relationship between words.   Exegesis is where we start when we look at a passage. 

5)      Define words.  Many times we use words as Christians we can’t even define.  If you’re going to talk about Mercy- make sure you know what Mercy really means.  Other words we don’t usually know but use all the time: sanctification, redemption, grace, salvation, repentance.  Don’t take for granted that everyone knows what you mean when you say these things.

6)      Hermeneutics.  A big word that simply means: what does it mean here and now?  Ok.  So you’ve studied the words, the history, and the purpose for why it was written back then.  The next question is: “If this passage meant ________ back then, then what can it mean for us today.”  Don’t be tempted to start here.  Many do.  To truly appreciate the meaning for us today we must first understand the EXEGESIS!!

7)      So… now you understand all the words, the context and the meaning for today…. You’re almost done!  If there is time for discussion after your talk- make sure to come up with 10 or so questions.  Questions should be open-ended (no questions that can be easily answered with one word or two).  Ask questions specific to the passage and some questions dealing more with the hermeneutics- what it means today. 

8)      Introduction.  Just like in school- and introduction is meant to grab one’s attention.  If you want the audiences to stick with you to the end- you need to get them here.  But no pressure!  Introduction ideas:

·         Reflective Question.  “Think back to a time when you were _______.  What did you feel?”
·         Funny jokes or quotes on the subject.
·         Personal stories or experiences. (Remember to keep these short!)
·         Statistics (be careful here… too many are boring….. 1 or 2 strong stated statistics may work well.)
·         Movie clips.
·         Skit. 

9)      Middle.  The heart and bulk of what God wants you to talk about it in relation to your passage.  Make sure and be yourself!  Use visuals if possible.

10)  Sometimes it’s powerful to have the audience walk out with something as a reminder of what you talked about (but not always practical).  I remember a sermon when I was in Jr High talking about God’s name on our hearts……. And we were each given a white rock with a Christian fish symbol written on it to signify that.  Be creative.  Maybe it’s having them write something on an index card and taking it home to put on their refrigerator.

11)  Conclusion.  Wrap it up here.  Tie in your conclusion with your introduction.  Challenge your audience to leave the room and DO something. 

12)  Keep it within your time frame.  If you’ve been asked to speak- keep it to the time allotment you’ve been given.  Nothing’s worse than making the group late because you just kept talking.

13)  It’s normal to be nervous before speaking in front of a group.  One of the best ways to combat this- is practice, practice, practice!!!  Practice saying things out loud.  Practice in the mirror.  Practice talking it out to someone.  The more you go over what you’ve written- the more comfortable you will be talking in front of a crowd.

14)  Last but not least…. PRAY.  Don’t take the responsibility of sharing God’s word lightly!  Pray that God’s message gets out!  Pray when you begin your devotion as well as at the end.

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