18 Ideas to Enhance Preaching in Churches with Illiterate Leaders

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One of the biggest challenges and missionaries face in less developed communities is leadership challenge. This is worsened by the level of illiteracy in those communities which affects effective discipleship, mentoring and proper church administration. As a pastor in one of those fields, I have battled with this issue for the past years and gradually seeing results. Though the challenge of keeping proper financial and church records still persist, these issues could be managed with the under listed points. In this article, we shall have a look at 18 ideas to enhance preaching in churches in with illiterate leaders.

18 ideas to enhance preaching in churches with illiterate leaders

1.Personal audio recording: In a number of times, I have tried recording my own sermon and getting another person to do interpretation. This could be sent to a member via WhatsApp to be played on phone. Alternatively, a small Bluetooth device could be helpful. Moreover, such prerecorded sermon notes could be transferred to pen drives and used in churches to serve the purpose of sermons and Bible studies lessons. In this case, they all listen to the audio and discuss lessons learnt. Sometimes, it could be fun to listen to the pastor’s voice if cannot be present.

2. Adult education program: Rolling out adult education programs may be not yield immediate results but a long time results. Though this may take time, it largely depends on the availability of the adults enrolled and how committed and serious they are. This program enhances reading and preaching, taking records and for reporting purposes. Again, this could also serve as an avenue to win more souls from church members that participate. The only challenge is getting the materials and a trained teacher to handle the course.

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3.Teach them to teach same method: I handle churches with leaders that can neither read or write. They cannot read circulars, announcements and other important documents for reports and action. As a result, most of them are not using android or smart phones for easy dissemination of information. So, what should you do then? One of the things I do is to gather those leaders and teach or preach them and ask them to do same. Having grasp the understanding and the basic concept of the message in the sermon, they are then released to go and do same in their various churches.

4. Drama and discussion: Due to the high level of illiteracy and short attention span to listen to sermons, drama can be an effective tool. This brings variety, enhances interest and increased participation during discussions. When drama is done in the native language of the people, the message is clearly understood and it awakens their interest. The facilitator therefore, must be guided to ask relevant questions to draw the message and lessons from the drama.

5. Use of local dialect apps: By the grace of God, many apps have been developed and available for free. There are currently many audio Bible apps in different languages that could aid Bible studies. If you search on play store and other platforms and cannot find a particular local language’s audio Bibles, then seek for further resources.

6. Visual Aids and Props: Though these may not be easily found in some environments, one could easily improvise simple visual aids to use. Pastors and church leaders must use visual elements like pictures, props, or objects that can illustrate the message. This helps in conveying ideas beyond language barriers and illiteracy.

7. Relatable stories: In the field of missions, pastors and church leaders can employ storytelling, narratives, and some relatable stories that convey deeper spiritual truths without relying heavily on written text. The people can relate to stories and more especially, if it is in their own local dialect or interpreted to them.

8. Repetition and Emphasis: Emphasize key points by repeating them throughout the sermon, reinforcing the central message without overwhelming with too much information.

9. Group discussions and dialogues: Sometimes, one could employ group discussions and this could enhance understanding. Where lessons are not understood, group discussions could reveal level of understanding.

10. Relatable Examples: Use examples from everyday life or experiences familiar to the congregation to explain abstract concepts or teachings.

11. Visual Sermon Outlines: Though this may be another level of task to find visual aids each moment you want to preach, it enhances listening to sermons. Visual aids or diagrams representing the sermon’s structure or key points can help the congregation follow along. However, care must be taken when dealing with illiterates as too much elaborate illustrates weaken absorption rate.

12. Demonstrations and Actions: Physically demonstrate aspects of the sermon, such as acts of kindness or symbolic gestures, to reinforce the message. Ministry to a large group of illiterates can be difficult. Out of the 18 ideas to enhance preaching in churches with illiterate leaders, regular demonstration should be planned carefully.

13. Simplify Language: To enhance preaching of the word, you must learn to avoid complex terminologies. Avoid use of jargon but use simple, clear language that everyone can easily understand.

14. Recap and Summary: When preaching, conclude the sermon with a recap, summarizing the main points to reinforce the key message and ensure understanding. Learn to repeat salient points to enhance understanding.

15. Physical Gestures and Expressions: When preaching, use expressive body language, gestures, and facial expressions to convey emotions, emphasis, and additional meaning to the spoken words. This can aid in comprehension and engagement. It is difficult to preach in missions related fields where language and illiteracy are huge barriers to the propagation of the gospel.

16. Personal Testimonies: One of the most powerful and effective tools for evangelism is sharing your personal testimonies. And if this will be effective, then you must do it to align with the message. This could also illustrate the impact of the message. Real-life examples can deeply resonate with the congregation.

17. Depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit: The message of the Gospel can only make impact when you depend on the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives ideas, transforms lives and enhances divine understanding. Out of the 18 ideas to enhance preaching in churches with illiterate leaders discussed, reliance on the Holy Spirit is non-negotiable.

18. Practical Application: Provide clear and actionable steps for applying the sermon’s teachings in everyday life. Concrete actions make the message more tangible and applicable. It is important to use objects in their environments to illustrate practical life situations.

Hope these 18 ideas to enhance preaching in churches with illiterate leaders are helpful to you. Tell us your views about it by commenting.

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