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Take Your Audience into Account

“Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to him” (Matt. 4:25-5:1). When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, he took into account his audience. His disciples were seated at his feet, but he started the Sermon because he saw the multitudes, so the Sermon was intended for both his disciples and the multitudes, which consisted primarily of Jews, but may have also included Gentiles from Galilee and Decapolis and beyond the Jordan. His Sermon, therefore, dealt with not only the Law, but also with everyday issues and relationships.

Take your intended audience into account as you prepare your teaching, and adjust accordingly when you see who your actual audience is. How old are they? How much Biblical knowledge do they have? Define big words. Some in your audience may know what they mean, but some may not.

Even if you are the type who must write out every word of his or her teaching, don’t read to your audience: talk to them. Use eye contact. Look at your audience, but not just one part of it. Look at one part, then another, then another. Eye contact tells your audience that you are there for their sake and not there just to rattle off a bunch of facts. Eye contact, therefore, engages your audience and helps them to keep their interest.

Watch your time. In the ancient Near East, an audience could stand and listen to a teacher for hours. In our culture, adults get impatient and lose interest if the teaching goes longer than 45 minutes. The attention span of teenagers and certainly children is even less. If you have a lot of material to cover in your teaching, you may have to present it over two or more sessions. Remember, your goal is to help your audience to get and remember your message. But if they stop paying attention, they will not get it.

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