Recently, we’ve shared articles on public speaking. You can read 3 Tips for Public Speaking here and Step Up and Speak Up here. Today’s article focuses on oral presentations often given in a Christian context: testimony, devotional thought, and biblical message. Though similar, each has unique purposes.
As a Christian leader, let your words flow from Scripture’s truth and the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. Careful Bible study and application of its principles give credibility to any message. Theologian R.C. Sproul said: “The Christian who is not diligently involved in a serious study of Scripture is simply inadequate as a disciple of Christ. To be an adequate Christian and competent in the things of God one must do more than attend ‘sharing sessions’ and ‘bless me parties.’ We cannot learn competency by osmosis. The biblically illiterate Christian is not only inadequate but unequipped.”1
Your personal testimony is powerful. It is an account of the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation in your life and a challenge drawing to redemption. While skeptics may doubt Scripture’s truth, they cannot question your life experiences. Share your personal testimony freely. Tell others of God’s past work of salvation and His present work of sanctification in your life.
A testimony is usually brief and focuses on one area of God’s work in you. Organize your thoughts logically, including an introduction, body, and conclusion. Share openly and honestly. Speak about your insights clearly and comfortably. Conclude giving hope and encouragement.
In Speak Up with Confidence, Carol Kent presents an outline for a personal testimony that can be adapted to different timetables and settings:
- Rapport—build a bridge and introduce your theme
- Before Christ—describe your life before salvation
- How You Came to Know Christ—share how you recognized your need, accepted Christ’s forgiveness, and received Him as Savior
- After Christ—identify the positive changes in your life and attitude since accepting Christ
- Conclusion—close with application, prayer, and a challenge.2
Your personal testimony can connect unbelievers to Christ and challenge believers to deeper commitment.
Speakers often share devotional thoughts at women’s events such as Bible studies or recreational programs. Sometimes the devotional will stand alone as the only biblical message, and other times it will be a part of a larger program. The devotional is a brief inspirational thought that includes a Scripture focus and personal application. Typically, a devotional has one main point. As God provides an opportunity for you to give a devotional, be prepared. Find a quiet time and place for prayer and Bible study. Pray about your message and for your listeners. Study a biblical passage until it changes your life. Once you have been inspired, you can inspire others. Make sure you understand clearly what the Scripture passage teaches, and then focus on several points to share. Develop your outline and determine an illustration or story to clarify your point.
While all principles of speechmaking apply to devotionals, remember to be brief but thoughtful, creative but clear, instructional but tactful, biblical but personal, and visionary but practical. Devotionals shared publicly should encourage private devotional times.
The Bible is the best text for Christians to teach. Other sources provide helpful information; Scripture offers truth. Its messages may be topical (built around a particular subject) or textual (based on Bible verses). Allow your message to flow from Scripture rather than finding Scripture to support your points.
Preparing a biblical message requires understanding exposition. Exposition begins with careful exegesis which leads to good hermeneutics; both then enable the practice of homiletics; and the whole process is called exposition.
These terms will help you become an expository teacher:
- Exegesis—the procedure for pulling out of the text of Scripture its divinely appointed meaning through the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
- Hermeneutics—interpreting what a passage of Scripture meant in historical context—the “then-ness” of the text.
- Homiletics—the art of saying the same thing Scripture says in context of contemporary setting—current significance or “now-ness” of the text.
- Exposition—delivery is added to exegesis, the process of laying open a text so its original meaning is brought to bear in contemporary listeners’ hearts.3
Careful, prayerful preparation leads to truthful Bible teaching that calls for life application. These steps help you prepare and present a biblical message:
- Read the Scripture passage aloud from multiple translations.
- Study each verse carefully, noticing paragraphs, phrases, and repeated or unusual expressions.
- Identify several main ideas or points.
- Develop the biblical outline.
- Add supportive illustrations, examples, and references.
- Connect points with transitional thoughts using the same key word.
- Finalize your message. Include actions(s), change(s), or attitude(s) the listener should take in light of specific biblical teaching.
- Practice and pray before your presentation, trusting God to work through His Word among His people. Your time in God’s Word and preparation will help you share His truth with power and draw you closer in your relationship with Him.
This article is adapted from a chapter written by Rhonda Kelley and found in Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.
1. R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1977), 23.
2. Carol Kent, Speak Up with Confidence, 179-89.
3. Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons (Chicago: Moody Press,