Wednesday, March 16, 2016

8 Tips to Make Scripture Come Alive in Your Writing

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

Un-boring. It may not be a word, but it is for this post. You know what I mean.

When we explain Scripture in the Bible studies we’re writing, we want to be as un-boring as possible. After all, Scripture is alive with truths and promises, hope and healing power. It is light to a dark world, healing to the wounded soul, and the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes in Christ (Romans 1:16). 

As Bible study writers, we are stewards of sacred words. So let’s make our Bible studies as un-boring as possible and showcase the wonders, glories, truths, and love of God.

When you explain Scripture in your Bible studies, consider following these principles to infuse your explanations with richness, vitality, and everyday relevance:

1. Work with God to understand Biblical passages.
Take the time to study the Word with its Author. Even if you’re under a deadline, it’s critical to study the Word enough to be able to explain it clearly, accurately, and with pizzazz. Understand passages from the inside out. Get alone with God and work through your own questions about the passage. Ask Him to help you see the milk and the meat and to know how to present them.

Let your personality shine.
2. Let your personality shine.
God picked you on purpose to write your book. He wants to use your personality, background, and knowledge to bless the reader. Avoid sounding like the textbooks we had in school. Be yourself, talk to your reader as a friend, and let your quirks and charms come through in how you explain Scripture. But don’t let your personality traits obscure the richness of God’s Word. Be the pen (or the keyboard) that God wants to use to encourage hearts and strengthen souls. Allow God’s love and truth to shine through you, and write your book as you would want to read it. Stay personable.

3. Include memorable stories.
Just as I can easily remember stories from a sermon, I can recall stories from a book better than I can recall a principle buried in a paragraph. Use memorable stories to illustrate your explanations. The reader will better understand how Scripture relates to everyday life, and they’ll come to see you as a reliable teacher who can effectively connect Scripture to life today.     

Avoid rabbit trails.
4. Avoid rabbit trials.
I love bunnies, but rabbit trails in a Bible study wear me out. If an author follows every little bunny that pops into her head and records its trail in her book, I lose sight of her original flow of thought, and I begin to lose interest. Be kind to the reader, and limit discussing side issues about your Bible passages. If you must use extra information, put it in a side bar or in an appendix that has interesting facts about Scripture. Limiting what you include in your main paragraphs will keep the reading pace lively and allow the reader to absorb your main points of application. “Outlines” to some writers is a bad word, but see How to Write from an Outline and NOT Hate It to make outlines your friend and your reader’s friend.

5. Refrain from answering a question you just asked.
Word your questions so that the answers involve the reader’s perspective and experience. Write them so that you engage the reader in personal reflection and application. Leading your reader to participate in the learning process is a great way to make your Bible study un-boring. Consider starting a Facebook group for your Bible study so you can read their answers to your questions!

6. Synthesize what you’ve learned.  
You may have found a lot of “juicy” information, but sharing too many definitions and notes slows down the reader and causes them to lose interest. Give the best, most direct explanation of a passage, especially the ones that are the toughest to understand. Your reader will thank you for it.

7. Paraphrase commentary notes when possible.
Keep a conversational tone alive in your book by explaining a passage as if you were talking to a friend. It may be tempting to quote a chunk of a commentary, but doing this may tempt the reader to skip quotations that are a paragraph long. Whenever you can, reword and shorten excellent notes, and provide an endnote to give credit to the commentator’s ideas. This will cut down on wordiness and keep the reader with you.

8. Application, application, application!
This goes without saying, but it’s easy to get so caught up in researching a passage and explaining it that we neglect applying it to daily life. Application, along with the Holy Spirit, is the agent of change in the reader’s life. Make your application strong, heartfelt, down to earth, encouraging, and inspiring. 

In what ways has someone explained Scripture that kept your interest and impacted you? Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget to join the conversation!

Use these 8 tips to make Scripture come alive in your #writing - @KatyKauffman28 (Click to Tweet)

How to Explain Scripture so It's NOT Boring - @KatyKauffman28 on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Katy Kauffman is an award-winning writer and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies, a ministry which seeks to connect people to God through His Word. 

She has taught the Bible to women and teens, and has two published Bible studies for women, 2 Timothy: Winning the Victory and Faith, Courage, and VictoryShe is an editor of the new Refresh Bible Study Magazine and the designer of Broken but Priceless: The Magazine. She makes her home near Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. Great post, Katy. It gave me tools to use as I complete my book. Thank you for taking the time to share.

    1. Thank you, Cherrilynn! I pray God's blessing on your project. Can't wait to see the finished result.

  2. Such great tips, Katy! These were very helpful for a project I'm currently working on. Thanks!

    1. That's great to hear, Cathy! Thank you. May God richly bless your project!

  3. Great tips, Katy! Thanks for sharing. Very helpful!

    1. Thank you, Crickett! I look forward to reading more books you write/have written.

  4. Love it! Thanks for the reminder to let the personality God gave me shine through. I can be silly and a jokester and will find myself trying to be only serious when writing about scripture. Yet, looking back, it's when I was "me" in posts that I had more comments or interaction with my readers!

    1. I completely agree, Tammy. It's when I am authentic that readers "get" me and comment more, compared to when I try to be more like someone else I admire.

    2. Thank you for sharing that, Tammy. If God gifted you with humor, why not use it? Your readers may remember your writing better if your personality comes through. Thanks for commenting!

    3. And I like your point, Ellen, about being authentic. I could easily chameleon to be like someone else, but God made each of us unique. The world would be missing something if there weren't a you.

  5. Thanks for sharing these great tips, Katy!

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by and reading today.

  6. Thank you! This was spot on and very encouraging, yet practical advice. Keeping this post for reference. :)