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How Do I Prepare to Teach a Bible Message?

How Do I Prepare to Teach a Bible Message

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Have you ever asked yourself the question: “how do I prepare to teach a Bible message?” There are multiple steps that will help you prepare to teach a Bible message. The purpose of this article is to give a quick overview of the preparation steps. 


First, spend some time in prayer. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment as you prepare to teach His Word. Ask for Him to speak through you, that you would teach in an accurate and engaging way. 


Before you dive into a study Bible or some commentaries, take some time to read the passage(s) that you will be teaching. Reflect on them. Read over them multiple times. Then, expand even further to read the surrounding context. If possible, read the rest of the book of the Bible from which you are teaching. If you don’t quite have the time for that, then look over a simple outline of the book, then read several chapters that are around the passage you are teaching. After reading the context, spend more time reflecting on the passage itself. 

Does this seem excessive? At first glance, perhaps. But if you are going to teach a passage, then having a deep understanding of the passage and its surrounding context is critical to being able to understand the author’s intent and accurately teach your message. Reading a passage multiple times and reflecting on it can also help you deepen your understanding of it.


Next, you will want to take some time to study the passage. You can use any number of helpful Bible study resources to assist with your study of the passage, including study Bibles, commentaries, Bible study websites, and more! To check out some helpful resource recommendations, visit this list below:

Top 11 Bible Commentary Recommendations

When you study the passage, if there are phrases or words that you don’t quite understand, then using a Bible study resource can help you gain a better perspective on the meaning. Sometimes, the meaning of a passage may be a little uncertain, so you will have to do some digging and really study certain phrases or words in order to determine your conviction regarding what a passage means.

As you study, take notes on what you are learning. You may consider typing up an outline of the passage, and under each verse, write out your observations. This will save you some time when you begin creating your message outline.

Outline – Main Points

Now you’re ready to begin thinking about your main points for the outline. As you look back over your notes, try to discern what major themes or application points are being discussed. Can you summarize the passage in three or less major points? If so, write them out, along with which verse(s) correspond to each main point. Here’s an example of an outline with three major points:

“How We Should Live” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

  • God is one (6:4)
  • Love the Lord with everything you’ve got (6:5)
  • Discipleship happens all day, every day (6:6-9)

After summarizing the different sections of the passage you are going to teach on, do you have more than three points to share? There are teachers out there that are comfortable teaching with many main points in their message. However, I recommend that most people stick to three main points or less. 

If you have more than three main points, then perhaps you could create several messages instead of just one! Or, you could just shorten the passage you want to teach. Remember, simple is good – and you’ll have plenty to teach on by the time you finish out your message!

Outline – Subpoints

Once you have created your main points for the message, then take some time to begin thinking about any potential subpoints for each main point. If one main point covers multiple verses, then the subpoints could help break down those verses into smaller bites that you could teach. 

This is a good point to add any cross-references to other passages of Scripture, if you would like to do so. The cross-reference could be added as a sub point to one of your main points. Here is an example of a sub point:

“How We Should Live” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

  • God is one (6:4)
  • Love the Lord with everything you’ve got (6:5)
    • Jesus tells His disciples about the importance of following this command when He tells them that this is the greatest commandment (read: Matt. 22:37)
  • Discipleship happens all day, every day (6:6-9)

Your subpoints will also include any illustrations and quotes you would like to add. 

Outline – Illustrations and Quotes

After creating an outline with main points and subpoints, then it is time to add some illustrations and quotes to your message. While there is certainly lots of flexibility with where you add illustrations and quotes, how many you add will be dependent on the amount of time you have to teach. 

For shorter messages of 15 minutes or less, you may only have time to add two illustrations. For messages longer than 15 minutes, you will likely have time to add an illustration for each point and add a few quotes where desired.


Next, it is time to begin working on your message application. Let’s take a moment and be really honest. Your audience won’t remember most of your message. But, if you give them one very specific way to apply the message, then they are much more likely to experience life change as a result!

For application, it may be tempting to give the audience a number of different options. Resist that temptation. If you give them too many options, then they won’t choose any of them. Try to think about what is the best way for someone to apply what they just heard to their own lives in the next week. As a result of hearing this message, what should they do differently? 

Make the application practical. Choose an application that is challenging yet attainable. Most importantly, choose an application that you feel led to practice yourself. You don’t want to hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

There is a chance you may feel the need to rush the process and quickly create an application for your message. I find it helpful to take several days to think about my application. Sometimes, I will think about message applications while driving, so that I can spend more time reflecting on what it could be. Whatever your process might be, make sure you take the time you need to craft the application part of your message.


At this point, now that you have a pretty good idea of where you are headed with your message, it is time to craft an opener to your message that will capture your audience’s attention right from the beginning of your message. Maybe you have a good story or illustration that relates to your main point of the message. You might even have a personal story or an object lesson that will help capture your audience’s attention.

Regardless of what your opener is, make sure it engages your audience’s attention right away. I recommend practicing your whole message, but especially practicing the opener because it is one of the most important parts of the message to learn. If you don’t start your message well, you may not get your audience’s attention back until later in your message, if at all!

Outline – Transitions

Next, you want to make sure that there are solid transitions between your opener, your main points, and your application. In your notes, I would encourage you to write out your transitions, so you will remember how to smoothly move from one part of your message to the next. With time, you’ll learn how to summarize your transitions into a few words in your notes. Here’s an example of a smooth transition from an illustration to the Scripture reading:

Opening Illustration: a personal story about smartphone addiction 

Transition: “I know many things are continually fighting for our attention. For me, my smartphone was taking up way too much of my attention. However, God actually tells us what the main focus should be in our lives. Let’s turn to Deut. 6:5 together.”

Manuscript (optional)

This step of the message preparation process is optional. However, many people find the manuscripting part of the process to be helpful as they prepare to practice their message. Once you have completed your message outline, you can actually write out what you would like to say for each part of your message.

I’ve taught many messages before, so at this point, I choose to manuscript my messages for larger groups while just creating teaching outlines for smaller groups. 

After I manuscript my message, I usually take a few moments afterwards to review my message outline and make any small adjustments that might seem needed. I don’t read many scripts when I teach, but I use my teaching outlines very frequently. I just don’t have enough time in my week to memorize all of my messages. I’m guessing most of you don’t have that much time either!

Color Code

Now that you have a pretty solid teaching outline, I recommend color coding it to help make it easier to read while you are teaching. Feel free to get creative with it! Color coding is a personal preference, so over time you will discover if you like it or not, and which colors you like using for specific sections of your outline.

Practice and Refine

Once you have a teaching outline ready to go, then take some time to practice your message. Try to practice the message multiple times and refine it where needed. For each time you practice the whole message, time yourself each time to see if you are fitting into your allotted time allowance for the message. 

If your message is too short, then you’ll need to add more content. If your message is too long, then start trimming out some parts from your message! Although painful, this refinement process often helps make a message better and more concise.

Keep practicing your message until you get it within the time frame you have and you feel comfortable with delivering it. If possible, practice teaching your message in the venue where you will be teaching it. Any type of “unknown” factor (like the setup of the stage, the lighting, etc) that you can get out of the way in advance will only help your message delivery improve.


The last step – go teach your message! Pray that God will use it and speak through you, using His Word to change lives. When teaching your message, regardless of how well it goes, you should be confident knowing that you took the time to prepare well for teaching it. God is faithful. He will use you and your teaching to help people grow closer to Jesus more each day.

For more in-depth resources to help you prepare to teach, please check out the Lead412 blog:

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