There is nothing worse than a poor sermon. The problem is we have grown up with the false teaching that once a preacher has started their sermon you simply have to sit through it. You are not free to leave your seat and go for a quick break. Meanwhile, in lectures being made for PhD students all over the world, they can leave the seminar. Sermons apparently, are different.
One of the qualities of the Elder is that they are able to preach. i In modern days, many churches have taken the stance of appointing an Elder and then inflicting the Elder on the Church for a few years while they learn to preach! Perhaps the meaning of the verses in the Bible was that they could demonstrate publicly that they already had the theological understanding that their role would require of them. To be able to preach or teach something you need to have a thorough understanding of your subject. Einstein asserted that in order to make something simple you have to understand it thoroughly in the first place. Preaching is not just knowing the topic, it is communicating it too. Communicators are made, not born. Anyone can be a good communicator, but it takes practice and commitment.
Here’s a difficult question, and my experience is that this is a seriously neglected area of ministry and few are treating their hearers with the respect that they deserve – assuming you are a preacher or you get the opportunity to preach, what specific things are you doing to enhance your communication and preaching skills? Awkward silence….
Now, to get the preacher off the hook.
I think the passage I referenced earlier is not talking about our modern-day, clinical, ‘transfer of knowledge’ approach to preaching. Instead I think it applies to the community of God’s people – being able to discuss, admonish and encourage God’s alternative society in the ways of God, and to know what God wants from them – their new lifestyle dynamics.
Preaching sermons holds many things in tension for the hearer, igniting the heart and giving fresh vision and courage to the weary heart. It is the continuing insistence that through the resurrection of Jesus a whole new world is bursting forth right here in the midst of this one and everybody everywhere can be a part of it.
It’s a message that needs to be communicated, and communicated well.
Improve your preaching!
There are many ways the preaching and its communication can and must be improved. Firstly, we owe it to Jesus, the greatest communicator that ever lived to replicate His ministry and message. Whether we communicate the message through words, songs, poems, art or drama, if it is worth communicating, it’s worth communicating well.
Lets face it, we have the greatest story to tell. There is not a single story in mankind’s long conversation that excels it.
You MUST improve your sermon delivery – don’t assume that you are Spurgeon. Even he had moments where the sermon dragged its feet.
You do have options
The options are obvious ones; Pray for help, prepare better, observe others, ask for preaching feedback from other preachers, and if you are married, ask the wife!
But there is no excuse for poor delivery. If you preach poorly people may think that the subject is boring too. If you love God – communicate it with every breath.
Don’t be afraid to look on YouTube or Ted Talks and see some of the world’s best communicators in action. Their gifts were given them by God, so allow yourself to be inspired by their delivery, Don’t try to become a star, but do seek to improve. Spurgeon’s “Lectures to my students” is a good starting point. It is not that good, but it is a great starting point.
If you want to send me a sample of your sermon I’d be happy to see if I can positively encourage you!
Just remember, sometimes it will help to look away from your 6 pages of size 9 font sermon notes, and just tell us from your heart all about Jesus. Remember, if you cause us to love Jesus, we’ll do anything for Him.
- 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (back)