Preaching Articles

When you preach, how long do Bibles stay open?

1. Open until right after the reading. Perhaps your listeners know from experience that once the reading is over, the message will fly every which way and the text that was read will become a distant memory. They may open their Bibles for the reading, but once that is done, the Bibles are shut. So what are you preaching?

2. Open until disconnect is evident. Perhaps they will be looking at the passage and listening for a while. But after a while it will become evident that your message has no real connection to the passage. At some point some will close their Bibles in an act of quiet pew-level frustration and sit listening in anticipation of the closing hymn. Or ...

3. Open as alternative to listening. Perhaps some will stay open so that the listener can occupy themselves while your message continues. For whatever reason, they have struggled to stay engaged and have decided that rather than being frustrated, they will read some Bible and make best use of the time!

4. Open until fingers grow tired. Here’s another possibility. Perhaps after the fourteenth cross reference, they get tired of searching for 2nd Hesitations and decide they’d be better off just listening rather than trying to keep up in the grown-up sword drill for the initiated Bible handlers (or the folks with the indented pages for cheating in sword drills!).

5. Open until end of message. Perhaps people keep their Bibles open all the way through, frequently checking that what you are saying fits with the text. It is both textually accurate and personally compelling. When the message ends, the Bibles are closed by grateful hearts and helped lives.

6. “Open” even on the way home. Perhaps people close their Bibles with a finger in the text, because subconsciously they can’t wait to get back into that passage and pray through it some more at home. This would be a good sign of effective preaching!

7. Open all week. Perhaps you preach in such a way that listeners are motivated and stirred to keep their Bibles open all week. They want to read on, read around, read more. They discovered that the Bible was accessible, enjoyable and relevant to their lives. They can’t imagine not wanting to pursue the God you introduced on Sunday. Good preaching!

Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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Michael James Monaghan

commented on Jun 16, 2013

At some churches , people do not bring Bibles with them , but use those supplied . Those who do bring bibles sometimes do not use them as it may be a different translation . One reason why church Bibles are used is that many people need to be told the page number of the chapter and verse . So 6 and 7 may be unlikely unless regular reading of the Bible can be encouraged . It may be true that people like to be told what to believe rather than also find out for themselves . In general people are not very 'Berean' in searching the scriptures to see whethr those things are so '. It's just the way things are ; and it may take more than a sermon to get biblicly interested christians . People say they believe in the Bible ; but they oftimes do not know the Bible . They may have a 'sense' what is true , but cannot explain the doctrine well , so are 'pastor dependant' ?. I hope this is taken as an observation and not a criticism .

Vincent Aja

commented on Jun 16, 2013

I can see one reason why being judgmental is evil. Many people will think that there is something wrong with Christianity today, but the truth is that we have never met the right people. I have watched many prosperity preachers, and was excited myself... but when I begin to look back into the Bible. I was highly disappointed/surprised because none of what they were saying that has anything to do with the contents of the Bible where they have begun their preaching, so I called it a quit. Here I saw a man who was saying how it should be. From number 5 to 7 of this article are good for every Bible believing Church. The truth here is when a pastor has trained the members of his congregation to know the Word of the Holy One of Israel. It`s for his personal good. I just want to say that my week has been blessed. The Lord Jesus will always tell His people go and do the same.

Dorna Chambers

commented on Jun 16, 2013

Oh my, I didn't know anyone else went through these things. I've been known to sit and read the bible so as not to waste my time.

Minister Sanders

commented on Jun 17, 2013

A lot of Pastors tell you to open your Bible to a certain passage of Scripture and then before you know it they are preaching about something not pertaining to the Scripture they just read. When we preach we need to teach the Scriptures that we have asked the congregation to open their Bibles on, and make sure that what we preach stays on course, and is pertaining to that particular passage of Scripture God Bless You!!!!!!

Samantha Sandys

commented on Jun 17, 2013

How about people who are illiterate, how about those who did not have the bibles available to them. How about when Jesus was preaching and teaching, did people cary the scriptures around with them?. I'd rather take notes when listening to someone preach, and then later look up the Bible if I have any queries or to seek more. If I try to look up some of the verses that the preacher quotes, I might miss out on some important message, as I am not multitask. But otherwise, yes! our sermons should move people to want more of God, His words and become like Him. Unfortunately today many open the Bible, just to prove a point, to judge, to redicule, to manipulate, etc.

Alan Montgomery Hutchens

commented on Jun 17, 2013

This is a great and needed article. The matter of a preacher using a different translation is one which is easily remedied. I often provide inserts for the bulletins which contain the text of my message from the translation which I shall be using. I habitually encourage people either to open their Bibles to the passage or point them to the insert. I often say, "Just as you go to a baseball game and hear that you can't know what's going on without a program, just so you cannot adequately follow my message without a copy of the Bible text. I know, as Samantha Sandys said, that Jesus may not have pointed people to the Septuagint when He preached. But, I'm not Jesus. I am subject to make ignorant mistakes at times. They need to check me out along the way, and not take my word on it, but His. A worthy article!

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Jun 18, 2013

Yes the article is relevant to the preacher and the listener . The idea of listener notes is a good idea , jotting a quick reminder to look up and investigate ideas , further . Personally as I gave up the habit of note-taking , I struggle to remember as many things as I can about the sermon when I get home . Lately , I had another idea . Look up similar sermons on the internet by other preachers . Sermon Central is a good source . I find then that a overview of the sermon sticks and also , ideas flow .

Scott Borchert

commented on Jun 18, 2013


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