A Helpful Framework for Teaching in Ministry

When you think about presenting or teaching or delivering a message, is there a helpful framework that guides how you structure the message? Preparing content is critical, but so is preparing how you will deliver the content.

When I was serving as a student pastor and driving to seminary on my day off (long before the luxury of online education), I took a class on teaching the Bible. The text for the class was the book Creative Bible Teaching by Lawrence Richards and Gary Bredfeldt. While I am sure the whole class and the whole textbook were both informational and inspirational, what I most remember and what most impacted me in a tangible way was one sticky framework for teaching. I often think back to it when preparing for a message. Here is the one thing that helped me most in my teaching classes: Hook, Book, Look, Took. When thinking about delivering a message, I think about all four elements. Here they are:


Attention typically follows interest, so a strong hook at the beginning of a message grabs interest and surfaces the need so those listening will be compelled to give their attention.


After grabbing the attention, a teacher should take people to the book—the Word of God. Without the Word, a message is without power. The hook raised a question or a need that the book, the Bible, answers or addresses.


A skilled teacher applies the Scripture to the lives of those listening. The text must be placed in the context of those listening so they can look at the implications for their lives.


The “took” is about action, about not merely hearing the Word but doing what it says. After applying the Word to the people’s hearts, they should be called to respond, to act.

While the apostle Paul and Jesus surely did not jot down messages with this framework in mind, two of their most famous messages can be used as examples for the rhythm of grabbing attention, taking people to the truth, applying it, and calling for a response.

When Paul preached at Mars Hill (Acts 17), he first grabbed the attention of those listening by pointing out the idols in their day (the hook). He then declared the Lord as the one true God (book) who calls for people everywhere to repent (look). Some ridiculed and some believed (took), but the declaration of the message demanded a response.

When Jesus met with the woman at the well (John 4), He used water to grab her attention and show her that she needed more than physical water (hook). Jesus declared the gift and satisfaction of eternal life and Himself as the Messiah (book). He helped her see the emptiness in her own life by asking her to call her husband (look). She was so excited about meeting Christ that she ran to tell others and left her water jar behind (took).

If a book, a class, or a seminar provides me with one framework, one strong took, the investment of time and money is worth it in my opinion. Hook-Book-Look-Took has been a helpful one for me. Hook the listeners so they sense a need to listen. Bring them to the book that ultimately transforms. Help them look at their own lives in light of the message. And challenge them to respond.