In teaching the Bible, one of our objectives should be to line up with how God made people to learn — through our five senses. As Bible teachers we usually don’t have trouble employing methods that require students to engage their sense of hearing. Many will add visualization, thus engaging the sense of seeing. But, what about the other senses?
Bible Verses Referencing the Senses
“faith comes from hearing the message” (Rom. 10:17)
This verse lets us know how critical the sense of hearing is to engaging people. Remember, however, that it is not the only sense.
“Touch me and see” (Lk. 24:39)
Thomas was encouraged to touch Jesus’ scars to help with his doubts. Hearing that Jesus was alive needed to be coupled with touching in order for Thomas to believe.
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)
Job’s faith had been grounded in what he heard about God. His trials, seeing God in action, strengthened that trust even more.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good.” (Ps. 34:8)
The choice of words in the above verse may be meant figuratively but the concept of engagement is there.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Cor. 2:14)
Again, the use of the word “aroma” suggesting the sense of smell may be meant figuratively in the above verse, but it implies a more holistic approach to the way we communicate with others.
Principles about Engaging the Senses
- Do not minimize the sense of hearing to grow people in their faith yet do not rely solely on it.
- While faith may begin with hearing the Word, it is often reinforced and strengthened by engagement in other ways.
- People may be at different places in their faith, requiring them to experience the Word in different ways.
- The more directly and purposefully involved in the learning process, through the various senses, the greater will be the learning and retention of what has been learned.
- If you can’t find an appropriate actual object for students to touch or recreate a scent or taste as in the Bible lesson, etc., at least use descriptive vocabulary to provide a word picture that will help students understand.
Practical Issues in Engaging Students Through the Use of their Senses
- Carefully think through the logistics when engaging the various senses so it is a good experience.
- Always keep safety in mind.
- Be sensitive to students with allergies.