With each sermon you preach, you should be absolutely crystal clear what you want your people to take away from it. If you are murky about how they’ll be able to use your message, then you can be sure they’ll be clueless.
As preachers who want to communicate well, clarity must be a top priority in every sermon. But it’s easy, and sometimes necessary, to focus most of your prep time on your content and not your listeners. This makes it so crucial to think through how your listeners will receive and use your message.
In this episode, I want to give you three simple tests that will help you ensure that your sermon is ready to go in terms of its impact on your listeners and their ability to apply it.
It’s more important than ever before to work on gaining and keeping the attention of your listeners while you preach. Capturing and maintaining attention is one of the most difficult things a communicator must do.
The reason we have to work harder to gain and keep attention has to do with what competes for the attention of our people every time we preach.
Our listeners are so distracted, and we need to know what we’re up against. Some of these distractions are new, and some are as timeless as humanity, but they are all present every time you stand up to preach.
In this episode, we'll dive into four things that compete for your people’s attention when you preach - and what to do about them.
So many pastors get burned out and fatigued because they lack balance.
They are giving 100% of themselves 100% of the time.
This is not sustainable and will lead to an inevitable crash landing. But there are two simple things you can do to keep yourself from burnout: Take a real day off; and have a real vacation.
In this episode, we'll explore why it's so vital to guard your time off as a pastor, and even more importantly, we'll discover how to do it.
There are many things that can distract you while you preach.
Distractions can easily interrupt your flow, make you lose your train of thought and potentially derail your message. It’s important to prepare for potential distractions ahead of time so that you're ready when they come.
All preaching distractions fall into one of two categories: internal or external.
Internal distractions exist inside your head. Your mind goes a million miles an hour while you preach. You think about a lot of things in the moment:
-you can’t decide what your next word is going to be
-you wonder how your message is coming across
-you’re not sure if you’ve adequately made your point
-you realized you’ve talked yourself into a corner
-and on and on
All of this goes on in your head while words are coming out of your mouth. It makes it difficult to stay focused on your message. These internal distractions come at you from your own thoughts. No one knows they’re happening...
Sermon preparation can be vexing.
It's important to put in the necessary hard work and deliver a sermon that is worthy of a listen.
But when I write about the importance of working hard at sermon preparation, well-meaning people sometimes respond with this argument:
"Just let the Holy Spirit guide you! No need for all this work."
It is their desire to protect the purity of the process and not tarnish it with technique. They see preaching as this otherworldly exercise that the Holy Spirit superintends.
In their view, the work of the Holy Spirit is thwarted when the preacher makes an effort to improve his preaching.
In this episode, we'll look at why this is a misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit's role in sermon prep.
Often when I am preparing a message, I'm asking myself, "What is the point I'm going to make in this message?"
Granted, that's a valid question. But there is a more important question to ask that goes a level higher than that: What's my objective for this message?
To know if you were successful at something you’ve tried, you have to know what you were seeking to accomplish. This is true in every area of life but especially in preaching.
This is why I nail down the objective of my message early on in the process of writing it. The objective drives the process from there.
In this episode, I will show you how to arrive at the objective for a message and lay out one more vital question you must ask before writing any sermon.
As a preacher you should never shy away from tough topics. If the Bible addresses an issue, you should too.
You want to help your listeners have a holistic view of how biblical truth intersects with every aspect of their lives. But the more controversial the topic the more important it is to handle it with care.
I have preached on topics ranging from what the Bible teaches about alcohol consumption, to sex and sexual issues, to marriage, and financial giving.
Along the way, I have learned a few things about how to approach these types of sermons, and I would like to share with you. In this episode, we'll dive into nine tips for preaching on controversial topics.
As preachers we must guard against a prideful spirit. It is a trap that can destroy our effectiveness and our ministries. But we need confidence in order to boldly proclaim God’s word. A tension exists between pride and confidence.
Most of us would say that being confident in our abilities is generally good, but being prideful in ourselves can be detrimental. We know that the Scriptures contain harsh warnings against pride. You can be a confident person without being prideful, but it often seems like a fine line.
A closely related character trait to pride and confidence is fear. Fear can be a huge inhibitor. Most of us bounce back and forth between pride and fear. Sometimes we’re prideful of our accomplishments looking for others to notice how awesome we are and validate us. Other times we are insecure in our abilities and fearful of what other people might think.
Thus there is an ongoing struggle for what motivates our preaching. We must be motivated by the right...
There are few things more vulnerable than preaching. If you do it right, it is a moment when you bare your soul for the world to see. So it makes sense that you wonder what people think of your preaching.
You want to know if your sermon worked. Sometimes you just want someone to tell you that you did great so you don’t feel as awful about your mediocre sermon (we’ve all been there).
Most of us walk away from a sermon we’ve preached with this resounding thought: Validate me, tell me how great my sermon was because I need to feel worthy as a person!
Categorically positive feedback is acceptable from your mom or your spouse. Everyone needs someone cheering them on.
But you have to pursue more meaningful feedback from others if you want to get better. You should seek feedback that actually makes a difference. You want the kind that tells you if your sermons are doing what they’re supposed to do – making an impact.
But most people don’t give this kind...
In our effort to become better preachers we often learn from the best preachers in our generation. We watch our heroes and take notes gleaning all we can from them.
This, by the way, is a good thing. While you should never seek to copy someone else or become them, you can always learn a great deal from studying best-practices.
But we have a lot to learn not only from our contemporaries, but also from those who have gone before. One leader and preacher who we can learn a great deal from is Paul.
Paul, the Apostle, was not only a top notch theologian who wrote a huge part of the New Testament. He was also a missionary, pastor, church-planter and movement leader. We can gain a lot from watching his life and ministry. In this episode, we'll discover five practical things preachers can learn from Paul.