1. Open until right after the reading. Perhaps your listeners know from experience that once the reading is over, the message will fly every which way and the text that was read will become a distant memory. They may open their Bibles for the reading, but once that is done, the Bibles are shut. So what are you preaching?
2. Open until disconnect is evident. Perhaps they will be looking at the passage and listening for a while. But after a while it will become evident that your message has no real connection to the passage. At some point some will close their Bibles in an act of quiet pew-level frustration and sit listening in anticipation of the closing hymn. Or . . .
3. Open as alternative to listening. Perhaps some will stay open so that the listener can occupy themselves while your message continues. For whatever reason, they have struggled to stay engaged and have decided that rather than being frustrated, they will read some Bible and make best use of the time!
4. Open until fingers grow tired. Here’s another possibility. Perhaps after the fourteenth cross reference, they get tired of searching for 2nd Hesitations and decide they’d be better off just listening rather than trying to keep up in the grown up sword drill for the initiated Bible handlers (or the folks with the indented pages for cheating in sword drills!)
5. Open until end of message. Perhaps people keep their Bibles open right the way through, frequently checking that what you are saying fits with the text. It is both textually accurate and personally compelling. When the message ends, the Bibles are closed by grateful hearts and helped lives.
6. “Open” even on the way home. Perhaps people close their Bibles with a finger in the text, because subconsciously they can’t wait to get back into that passage and pray through it some more at home. This would be a good sign of effective preaching!
7. Open all week. Perhaps you preach in such a way that listeners are motivated and stirred to keep their Bibles open all week. They want to read on, read around, read more. They discovered that the Bible was accessible, enjoyable and relevant to their lives. They can’t imagine not wanting to pursue the God you introduced on Sunday. Good preaching!