Biblical Exegesis:

Tips for teaching God’s Word effectively

Biblical Exegesis: Tips for teaching God’s Word effectively

Allan R. Bevere

Good communication skills are critical for pastors. Every Sunday, Gospel ministers are trusted to interpret the Bible for the life of the congregation. Pastors preach, teach Sunday school, lead Bible studies, and speak one-on-one with people who have questions and are looking for direction. These teaching tasks are not to be taken lightly. After decades of firsthand ministry experience, what follows are my essential tips to teach God’s Word effectively. 


  1. Do not assume that those sitting in the pews have a basic level of biblical knowledge. This was brought home to me years ago when someone new to the church approached me after worship, asking if the words to the Lord’s Prayer could be published in the bulletin on Sundays. He was not raised in the church and therefore did not know it by heart. Pastors should no longer assume that everyone is familiar with what we might believe are the basic biblical stories—Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and the parable of the Good Samaritan. Instead, be ready and willing to go over the basics when necessary. 


  1. Do not weary of continual repetition of the basics. This is an expansion of point #1. The pastor, by nature of the job, is a generalist. Do not get exasperated by people who repeatedly come back to you with the same question. All human beings need to be reminded of the things of first importance. They don’t necessarily have the time afforded to pastors to read and study. They have other things on their plate. Instead, recognize and honor their other responsibilities by your willingness to have the same conversation many times. The key to education is less instruction and more repetition.


  1. Do not talk down to the congregation. In recognizing my first two points, we need to keep in mind that while biblical illiteracy is rather high, that does not mean the average parishioner is unintelligent. Everyone has different levels of biblical knowledge. Speak to and with folks as intellectual equals because they are. They know things the pastor doesn’t. In Bible studies do not monopolize the gathering by making it a lecture. Instead, spend much time listening to how others hear the Scripture. I have witnessed time and time again that others bring their experiences to a biblical text with insights I had never considered. Pastors may lead a Bible study, but they are also learners. I cannot begin to quantify how much I have learned about Scripture from parishioners who read the Bible faithfully.


  1. Do not wear your education on your sleeve. Utilize your education in service to interpreting the Word without calling attention to your expertise. “I have a Master’s degree” is not a proper response to someone who may disagree with you in a Sunday school class or on a sermon. Instead, use that disagreement as a way to foster continued conversation on the Scripture. Conversation is where our understanding of the Bible deepens.


  1. Be intentional about putting particular passages of Scripture in their larger context. The Bible is most abused when the immediate context is ripped from the larger biblical narrative. For example, the polygamy of Kings David and Solomon is not a justification for such marriage arrangements when they are seen in the larger context of 1 and 2 Samuel. In this passage, God gives the people of Israel what they ask for, “a king like the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:20). As a result, the polygamous practice of Israel’s kings is one sign among others that God’s people have received what they have asked, and in getting a king like the other nations, they have become like the other nations. They fail to be a light, an alternative to the nations living in obedience to God. Do not hesitate to spend time in every sermon and Bible study providing the larger context for the congregation.


  1. Embrace the life of study. One does not need a diploma to be well-informed. Learning does not end when the degree program is completed. It is a life-long endeavor. Because we live in the first-world with many resources available, our problem is not a lack of material—books, articles, videos, online courses, and other media. There is no excuse for failure to study. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was clear to his preachers who didn’t like to read, “Contract a taste for it by use, or return to trade.” Every pastor is their congregation’s resident theologian. They will look to pastors, not for canned answers, but for guidance along their faith journey. It was Harry Truman who said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”


  1. Bathe the life of study in prayer. The pastor’s desk is also an altar. Study is our intellectual worship of God. In the life of study, we keep the commandment to love God with all our minds (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). We cannot love God with our whole being if we neglect the life of the mind surrounded by prayer.


  1. Thank God for the calling to rightly handle the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Pastors are called to handle holy things. This is a sobering task. It is also a great privilege. Be diligent in fulfilling that calling in all humility.


As pastors, we must continually hone our speaking and listening skills while facilitating a life of study. The goal is never personal fame but rather glorifying God by faithfully proclaiming His Word. As you continue to fulfill your calling to shepherd and teach, my hope is that these tips will equip you to more effectively serve the congregation God has entrusted to you. 

About the Author,
Allan R. Bevere


Allan R. Bevere is a Professional Fellow in Theology. He recently retired from full-time pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church where he served for thirty-eight years. He is the owner of the social media portal, Faith Seeking Understanding ( with links to his YouTube Channel, podcast, blog, and daily reflections. He is the author of the forthcoming booklet, Holiness of Heart and Life: Loving God and Neighbor, and has published several other books including: The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the WorldColossians and Philemon: A Participatory Study Guide, and Who Is Jesus? The Puzzle and the Portraits of a Divine Savior.

Dr. Bevere received his Ph.D in Theology from the University of Durham U.K., a Th.M in Theological Ethics from Duke Divinity School, an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Ashland Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Christian Ministries from Malone University.

Dr. Bevere has served the larger church in various capacities over the years including mission, education, and leadership. He brings his passion for teaching to pastors in Cuba at the Methodist Seminary in Havana, Zimbabwe at Africa University, and Cameroon at the local Methodist churches. He has also engaged in mission work in Haiti and Puerto Rico.

Dr. Bevere is married to Carol. They have four adult children and four granddaughters. His hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, and hiking.

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