We preach hoping and praying for the message to mark and transform lives as it is preached. But what about after? I want to preach in such a way that the following things are true:
1. The listener will continue to be transformed by the text in the coming days. If the text were merely a source for data and sermonic stuff, then chances are the listeners will lose track of where the message came from. For the text to linger in their hearts and minds, the preacher needs to shine light on the text and shine the message of the text on the screen of their hearts. If they have only heard about it, there is less chance they will remember it than if they have “seen” the text painted vividly during the sermon.
2. The listener will be able to go back to the text later and understand it. If the listener were to look up the text later, then I want them to be able to understand it. That means that they have had it clearly and effectively explained. Not only what does it mean, but why does it mean that? Knowing that I take it a certain way is nowhere near as good as them seeing that that is what it is saying.
3. The listener will want to go back to the text later to read it. This is a biggie. If we assume that listeners go home and re-read the preaching text and carefully work through the notes they took, then we are naive to say the least. The preacher has to stir motivation for them to want to go back to the text. That motivation will come from an effective message, including instilling a confidence in them that they can see the why behind the what of the text. Why does it mean what the sermon said it means? They also have to be convinced of the relevance of the text to their lives. Irrelevant or inaccessible texts are least likely to be return destinations in the days after a sermon.
4. The listener will know how to make sense of it when they go there. This is like number 2, but slightly more than that. Number 2 was about them being able to understand the text itself. This one is about them being equipped to handle the text. That comes down to the instruction given in the sermon (and many sermons over time).