Thursday, March 15, 2012

Preach Better Sermons

I'm watching a live conference put together by the people at Preaching Rocket. It's all about Preaching Better Sermons. As a youth minister, when I talk about preaching, sometimes people look at me strangely, not realizing I am not only called to be great a dodgeball and ordering pizza, but also at communicating the Word of God. If you lead a student ministry, you need to get better at communicating God's Word - even if you're already pretty good at it. If you are a preacher, you need to get better at communicating God's Word - even if you're already pretty good at it.

If you missed the webcast, here are some highlights (not complete notes or many quotes) from some of my favorite preachers (who are also still learning).

Perry Noble:
  • Plan Ahead.
  • "Communicating for A Change" - Andy Stanley (great book for communicators)
  • 40 messages per year. How do you decide what to say?
    • Read to hear from God, not to find sermons.
    • Preach out of the overflow of your heart.
    • Keep track of thought 'kernels' (evernote)
    • Find great visuals
  • Plan with a team of people with various points of view.
  • Don't put too much stock what fans and foes say - listen to friends.
  • Let the Bible drive the message.

Jud Wilhite:
  • Be personal - share your life through stories to remove barriers.
    • Don't just share someone else's amazing story - build common ground by sharing your story.
    • Where does your experience overlap your listeners' life experience?
    • Share honestly - don't just make stuff up.
    • Communicate to the broken.
      • Think about how different people will hear what you're saying
      • How will the hear what God wants them to hear?
    • Communicate the Word.
      • Preaching is not about me - not about the listener - it's about Jesus.
      • Be sure to use language that everyone will understand.
        • Don't water stuff down - but explain what you mean!
    • Communicate for Next Steps
      • Can people see the connection with real life?
      • Be crystal clear about what you want people to do as a result of your message.
  • Don't cop out & be lazy in preparation - this stuff is important!
  • Park in one passage, don't just jump all over the place and lose people.

Andy Stanley:
  • It's a story you're telling, not a bunch of points you're trying to make.
  • Me, We, God, You, We mile markers
    • Here's my issue/thought/idea.
    • Don't we all experience that?
    • What does God say about it?
    • What should you do about what God says about it?
    • What if we all did that together?
  • Stay in the text and let it speak.
  • Help people understand what they need to do AND what's really at stake.
  • Distill everything and give the message in a single phrase.
    • What's this all about?
    • What's the one thing I want them to take away?
  • Create tension in the first few minutes.
    • Instigates a desire to know more
    • Creates interest - "We need to solve the mystery."
  • Mature believers AND engage those who don't believe.
  • Watch yourself preach.
  • Listen to other teachers/preachers.
  • Learn from comedians & others who engage audiences.
  • Ask yourself, "Who is this really about?"
    • Evaluate yourself by what people do with what you said, not by how you did.

Jeff Foxworthy:
  • Humor keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously.
  • Trim down to the bare essentials - stories don't need to include every detail.
  • Capture random thoughts (notecards, etc.) to flesh out & try out later.
  • Always be writing.
  • Be simple. Simple connects.
  • Don't be a sissy. But be vulnerable and admit you don't have it all figured out.

Vanable Moody:
  • Effective preaching starts with the end in mind.
    • Behavioral preaching
    • What do you want people to do?
  • Are you trying to make an impression or make an impact?
    • Impression doesn't last
    • Impact leaves lives changed
  • Identify the behavioral purpose of the Scripture.
    • Study to find out what God says He wants people to do.
    • Everything else flows with that behavioral point.
    • Preach with a sword, not a broom - one point.
    • Doesn't matter if we have a bunch of great information & research & message writing if we miss the assignment!
  • Let people see the message in your life.
  • Don't just make points for the head, but also paint pictures for the heart.
    • Behavior starts at the heart level.
  • Provide a vehicle for them to do what you're preaching about.

Dan Cathy: My stream broke during this session, so all I got is a craving for chikin'! (Also thanks to some timely text photos from some mean children currently eating Chick-fil-A)

Dr. Charles Stanley:
  • Be disciplined. You can't just 'sort of' preach.
    • Build the relationship with God from which the message will flow - Prayer.
    • Study - don't just give a sermon to fill the time.
  • You can't preach any better than you pray.
  • Unless you have a burden for a message, you're not ready to preach. 
    • Is there a message that you must preach?
    • Impact is made by the Holy Spirit
  • What is the need?
  • What Scripture addresses the need?
  • What does that text say?
  • What material will help me communicate that and what do I want people to take away?
  • No matter how well equipped & well prepared we may be, God can shut it down in a breath.
    • Great story answering why he never asks for money on air.
      • Short answer - God told him not to.
  • Obey God & leave the consequences to Him.

Louie Giglio:
  • Calling of God, Self-discovery, Affirmation by God's People
  • You may have no idea what God's about to do.
    • Start wherever there is an open door.
  • Preaching is about the Power and the Presence of the Word of God.
    • Don't just try to sound eloquent and persuasive.
  • Find out how God wants to impact His people.
  • Gather & craft the information that will help you be a part of that.
    • Preaching should be like putting your life through a funnel, not a megaphone.
  • Sometimes we need to reach for creative/artistic language to use in our message (not just a good illustration).

I can't yet vouch for all the coaching that will happen through Preaching Rocket, but if it's anything like today's webcast, a lot of people will be hearing a lot better preaching in the near future.


  1. oh thanks for this. I was reading a book called Lay People and the Ministry and i especially liked the points it made about 'using windows in your preaching', windows being illustrations, stories or personal life testimonies which allow people to 'see' into your sermon. Its sure helps me in preparing messages in a way that can be recieved by the hearers. God bless you for this post.

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