How to Connect with your Preaching!
“Pastor, I don’t know what it is that’s different about your preaching, but I like it.”
“Hey, Pastor, your sermons recently have been ‘really on point’ and I just wanted to tell you that.”
These simple and affirming comments have come in the last few weeks after I’ve preached a couple of sermons that I thought were rather ordinary. I didn’t ‘knock ‘em out of the park’ and I didn’t bomb them either. They were just ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill sermons to me. But something connected with these people. I began to wonder ‘is there something different in the way I preach?’ After all, I’ve been working on getting better at preaching over the last couple of years (I wrote about that process HERE). Maybe they’re just noticing the difference that work has made in my preaching. On reflection I think maybe there is something I do differently.
So many of us struggle to connect with our congregations and communities in our preaching. We’ve tried many different techniques. Read a lot of books. And all the while tried to stay true to good exegetical principles. Yet, the disconnect is still there. The question arises and lingers, “What can we do about it?’
Preacher, if you’ve wondered how to connect with your preaching, I invite you to consider these three elements, they might help:
1. Think Narrative Movement. In organizing the sermon I try to structure it more like a creative writing piece than a persuasive argument. I want the flow of the sermon to feel more like a great story than a deductive or inductive argument. I want people to feel like they’ve been on a journey during the sermon rather than in a classroom. The key question I ask here is, “How does the sermon move?”
2. Embrace Storytelling. If I’m going to organize the sermon like a great story then I have to tell it like a great story. This is why I stopped using any notes a couple of years ago. I try to practice my delivery multiple times prior to the weekend and while practicing I imagine that I’m telling it to a group of children. There is no more demanding audience than children. (Just fyi, many community colleges offer storytelling classes). The key question I ask here is, “Is the story compelling?”
3. Be Clear NOT Subtle. We live in a culture where subtle is no longer understood. The younger your congregation or audience the less likely a subtle point will connect. Yes, a blunt point may ‘tick off’ a member who was raised in the age of being subtle, but it is far more important to be clear than subtle. The key question I ask here is, “Will they get the point?”
So give these three elements a try and let me know how it goes?
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Grace and Peace, Rich