I thought I would share with you how I prepare my Bible and my outline for speaking to kids. When preparing to teach, my goal is to let the text of Scripture guide what I say, instead of gathering what I want to say first and then trying to find verses to support it. I focus about 70% of my teaching time on sharing exactly what the Bible says (reading verses, telling the story, and providing some commentary) and about 30% of my time adding my own object lessons and application. This not only allows God’s Word to stay the primary focus of the teaching time, but it conveys to children the importance of the Bible.
While preparing, I assemble the order of what I want to say in my mind or on paper but when I am actually speaking, rarely do I refer to any notes other than what I have made in my Bible. This works for me because it feels the most natural. Andy Stanley addresses this in his book, Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication.
“I find something very disingenuous about the speaker who says, ‘This is very, very important,’ and then reads something from his notes. Constantly referring to notes communicates, ‘I have not internalized this message. I want everybody else to internalize it, but I haven’t.'”
If you’re the type of person who needs notes to recall the information or to make sure you have them in case you forget, then most certainly keep them tucked into your Bible. But try to know your material well enough so that you can recall at least most of it from memory.
My outline usually includes:
- Introduction to connect with audience (with an object lesson or personal story)
- Background info of story (recap details that lead up to where the story begins)
- Tell story by reading bracketed texts and summarizing in my own words (I usually don’t give any illustrations or object lessons during this time to keep from distracting from the story I’m telling. I will, however, provide commentary as I go along to bring the story to life as much as possible.)
- Application (tell how the story applies to the lives of the children, object lesson, etc.)
With that being said, once I know the gist of the story and have produced my overall outline, I dissect the passages I will be covering and pick out the high points that I want to be sure to read word-for-word from the Bible. I then choose the other parts which I will just summarize in my own words. Sometimes I decide not to read certain passages, but summarize them, because they are full of details that would cause the story not to advance quickly enough (ex.: a big group of laws, family trees, etc.) or they contain content that is too mature for kids. I have a Bible that I use specifically for teaching because I mark it up quite a bit. I normally use the Holman Christian Standard Bible when I teach because not only is it a good, easy-to-understand translation, but it also accompanies our curriculum. Here’s a photo of my Bible from a recent talk on Joseph.
You can see where I bracketed the texts that I had planned to read with a small summary beside each. The verses between the bracketed texts were verses that I summarized in my own words. I did not have notes on these verses, but I read through the content multiple times prior, to internalize the overall summary and easily recall the details.
I will be the first to say that I do not think there is a foolproof method of outlining. You’ll notice the title of this post does not begin with “How to…” I believe speaking preparation all depends on someone’s nature and what works best for him or her. God has gifted each of us individually and uniquely, but it is our task to figure out how to use those gifts to express His message in a way that is natural and conducive to our personalities.
Do you have a favorite way to outline? What works best for you? I would love to find out! Comment below.