The following are ten suggestions that can make a significant difference in preaching. As I write these, I have in mind in particular those preachers/teachers who address the same congregation of people every week.
1. Communicate to the people in your church that you love them. You do this through your words, manner, and tone of voice. After all, these people are not a platform to be used to launch you toward something bigger and better. They are a precious local expression of the body of Christ. If they think you really don’t love them, what you say in a sermon will be greatly discounted.
2. Seek clarity not obscurity in preaching, . No, not all of the fruit must be low hanging. People need to hear a word from God. Many people come to church after a week of just trying to survive. Some preachers might be stunned if they were to see a composite list of all the difficulty and turmoil these people experienced that week.
3. Resist the temptation to trot out every new thought in this Sunday’s sermon. Some ideas and thoughts need to spend time slowly cooking in the crockpot rather than being prematurely presented on a Sunday morning.
4. Be careful about regularly communicating that you are different from the rest of the people in the congregation. For example, a preacher needs to be careful about belittling a local favorite, such as a favorite food. This preacher may do this in an attempt at humor. Such an attempt can easily backfire and can communicate that you really don’t value what they value. A similar mistake is to regularly talk about how much better things are “back home” instead of here. Sure it is fine to have your own opinions. However, one may unnecessarily use up some goodwill with such remarks.
5. Passion alone does not make a sermon. However, when a preacher rarely preaches with passion, one wonders how important the message is to that preacher. Passion is not turning red in the face or yelling at the congregation. Passion is what emerges from a preacher when there is a strong sense of importance to this message. When one preaches with passion, one senses the earnestness and the listener senses that this message is very important. Where does passion come from? Prayer. Thought. Reflection on God’s word. One’s own relationship with God. Passion begins to emerge as you realize what is at stake in this message.
(More to come)