I don’t want to burst your bubble, but numerous studies over the years have shown that people forget the majority of the information they hear from a communicator within 24 hours.
As pastors, most of us have fooled ourselves into thinking that our preaching is better than it really is. Since we see our preaching through our own set of rose-colored glasses, we are prone to getting comfortable.
But we are all works in progress. I still have things to learn and so do you. There are gaps and bad habits in my preaching that I am blind to, and the same is true for you.
Without an intentional effort to raise our game, we run the risk of spending week after week preparing and delivering messages that are less effective than they could be and easily forgotten. If you will commit to applying the principles I am sharing with you this week, I guarantee you will increase the effectiveness of your preaching exponentially.
Your preaching is comprised of two distinct elements: your personal preparation and your delivery. The two bind together to produce teaching that the Holy Spirit can work through to create life change in your people.
Early in my ministry, I realized that even though I was spending hours upon hours studying the content for my messages, I wasn’t giving any thought to how I would deliver those messages.
If you had pinned me down and asked me why I wasn’t putting any effort into planning my delivery, I would have given you a very holy answer: I was depending on the Holy Spirit to give me what I needed to deliver the message when I stepped into the pulpit. But it didn’t take long for me to get off of my holy high horse and realize that I was using the Holy Spirit as an excuse.
Of course the Holy Spirit wanted to surround and inhabit my preaching – as he does yours – but that didn’t mean that I could shirk the responsibility to prepare my delivery.I finally realized that I could give the Holy Spirit room to work even more effectively through my messages if I would hold up my end of the deal and prepare for them fully.
Effective communication requires both prayerful, studious preparation and careful planning for delivering the content in a way that connects. Your sermon preparation happens in your quiet place and in meetings with your team. It is focused on your seeking God and studying what he has for you to say.
On the other side of things, your message delivery (and the preparation for your delivery) is more outwardly focused. Delivery involves your voice, hand motions, eye contact and body language; it involves getting your hand out of your pocket and off of your face. Delivery involves removing the distractingly bright orange pen from your shirt pocket; it involves choosing language that your people understand.
Refining your delivery boils down to doing all you can to ensure that you are presenting God’s word as clearly as possible, unhindered by muddled concepts, forgotten points, mispronounced words, strange ticks and the like.
I have given a lot of thought to Paul’s ministry. I often re-read the passage from Colossians in which Paul asked the Colossian believers to pray that his preaching would be clear and effective. Wrap your mind around the power of that. The Apostle Paul himself – the same man who wrote two-thirds or more of the New Testament – is asking other people to pray for him as he prepares to proclaim the truth of God:
Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
Colossians 4:4 NLT
Paul’s request for prayer tells us a couple of things.
One, he understood the power of prayer (both his own prayers and the prayers of others) as he prepared to preach.
Two, Paul obviously gave intentional thought to how he communicated and – if the results of his ministry are any indication – did whatever needed to be done to make his message as effective as it could possibly be.
Shouldn’t you and I be willing to do the same?
Your partner in ministry,
P.S. For more tip on making your preaching the best it can be, join me for my Planning Your 2014 Preaching Calendar Webinar starting November 12th! Hurry, space is limited!
You’ll learn how to reduce your stress and increase your creativity over the next year. I will walk you, month-by-month, through the specifics of the 2014 calendar to help you plan your preaching in advance!
In this webinar you will also learn:
- When, specifically, to plan your 2014 Big Days (and when not to plan them).
- The pitfalls and possibilities built into the 2014 calendar.
- How to make the most of people’s natural seasonal patterns.
- The best times in 2014 for each of the 3 different types of sermon series (attraction, growth & balance).
- How to make Easter in 2014 more effective than ever at your church.
- Which days you can expect fewer people and how to best use those days.
- Plus much more!
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