Imagine you are preparing to teach your students a lesson that includes the following passage:
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:3-5 ESV)
What type of tone would be appropriate when reading this passage aloud to the students? Will the tone you use serve to help or hinder your students in better understanding the meaning of the text?
Tone: mode of expression, inflection, modulation, accentuation, mood, attitude, temper, etc. As a teacher (or parent), the tone you use to communicate a certain truth may either serve to help or hinder the learner in understanding and applying that truth. The above passage spoken in a quiet, sweet, comforting voice would not help your students understand and feel the weight of the text. In a similar way, it would not be helpful to use a loud, forceful voice to convey the meaning of Matthew 11:28,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
This topic came to mind as I read Pastor Mark Vroegop’s article, “Is Your Preaching Tone Deaf?” Though he was writing specifically about preaching, the main points of his article apply equally to those of us who teach children and youth.
The Bible is more than just a collection of propositional statements. It is truth with tone. And there are many different tones: comfort (2 Cor 1), bluntness (Jam 4:4), lament (Ps 13:1-2), wonder (Rev 4), sarcasm (2 Cor 11:19), instruction (Rom 12), joy (Ex 15), questioning (Ps 22:1), struggle (Lam 3), wisdom (Prov 1), and rest (Psalm 23) to name a few. The beauty of the Bible is found, in part, through its variety of tone.
Using the right tone requires a great deal of wisdom. But if used well, it invites people into a further understanding of the passage and opens up new applications. Preaching with the appropriate tone helps people feel the weight of what is being said. It makes the passage come alive in new ways. It can open their heart to truths that may have been missed without the right tone. By using the right tone, you will help people hear the truth of God’s Word. Truth through tone is a powerful way for both the pastor and the congregation to walk together into what is being said in the Bible, and a proper tone allows a person to not just what’s in a particular passage, but to feel
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