Devotions Best Practices
The following are best practices or guidelines for devotions conducted at quiz meets:
Speakers are preferably people who are involved in quizzing:
- Program leaders
- Board members
Junior-year and senior-year quizzers with leadership and speaking abilities and a desire to share a message are encouraged to volunteer. At least one member of the Board of Directors must approve the quizzer and the topic of their devotion.
Host churches are welcome to ask a local person to speak, such as a pastor or youth pastor, but are not obligated to do so. If they do, they should make sure to give all of the following guidelines to the speaker.
Devotions should be about the material that the quizzers are studying. This can be a deep study on a particular verse or passage or an exploration of a broader theme. References to other parts of Scripture are encouraged, but the focus should be on what the quizzers have been studying.
All biblical quotations should come from the translation that the quizzers are studying. (Currently this is the NIV 2011.) It is distracting to the quizzers to hear other translations right before the competition.
Not all good preaching topics are good devotion topics. Devotions are meant to encourage the entire audience, so they should be broadly evangelical, never partisan or divisive. The audience includes pre-teens, so if the text includes lust, circumcision, etc. be tasteful, as what may be appropriate for the older quizzers may not be for 11 and 12-year old quizzers.
Speakers should avoid controversial and age-inappropriate topics as stated above but should also avoid giving devotionals which are shallow or cliche. Quizzers tend to be more knowledgeable about the Bible than others their age and have a decent grasp of the material they are memorizing. Even those who don't memorize much have been hearing it all year at practices and meets. Devotions should therefore err on the side of being too challenging rather than too simple. The speaker should strive to do at least some of the following:
- Highlight features of the text that may be easy to miss such as historical context or grammatical details
- Cross-reference to other passages within the same book, the same Scriptural author, or the rest of Scripture
- If different passages or doctrines seem to conflict, synthesize the conflicting material and uphold the internal consistency of Scripture (e.g. Does James contradict Paul?)
- Use theological reasoning to reflect on broader implications of the text (e.g. Why is it so significant that Christ is both our high priest and our sacrifice?)
- Give biblically grounded practical applications instead of mere advice or moralizing (e.g. Don't just say "you need to go to church," but instead explain why it's important to go to church with biblical reasoning from Hebrews 3:13 or 10:25.)
Engaging the Audience
Churches will typically have projectors since the worship team will want to project the lyrics. If a visual aid would help the devotion, consider taking advantage of this.
Finding small ways to have the audience participate is a good idea. (e.g. If you're going to reference many different verses, ask some quizzers to quote the verses for you instead.)
Speakers are encouraged to relate their own experiences with Bible Quizzing if it ties in well with the devotion. As an example, there was once an excellent devotion done on the meaning of the phrase "I tell you the truth" in the book of John, because the speaker had experience with his own quizzers being frustrated at the repetition of the phrase.
Devotions should be approximately 15 minutes, but may need to be shorter and can go longer depending on how long the worship team goes. The speaker should be flexible, mindful of the clock, and end promptly at the scheduled time (typically 8:30 AM).
Assuming there is leftover time, speakers are encouraged to answer questions from the audience about the devotion.