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I dance to the rhythm of God’s grace. Now, keep in mind, I’m still a young preacher, so my dance moves aren’t very polished.  But I’m a passionate learner, and here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Dance Move 1: Pray

Before I prepare a sermon, Jesus must prepare me.

Within weeks of becoming a Christ-follower, Ezra 7:10 inspired me to pray, “Lord, empower me to study Your word, obey Your word, and teach Your word.”

When we pray before preaching we’re saying to Jesus, “I need a revelation of You ... I need Your power for my life and the lives of the people I’m preaching to.”

By the way, be on guard … the better you get at preaching, the easier it’ll be not to pray.

Dance Move 2: Christo-Centric Preaching

It’s vitally important that the preacher knows that all Scripture points to Jesus (Luke 24:13-49). This is called Christo-centric preaching or historical-redemptive preaching. Jesus said:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 ESV

In every one of my sermons, Jesus is the hero!

In every one of my sermons, it’s ultimately about what Jesus has done to redeem humanity and bring His kingdom to earth through His redeemed, glorious Bride, the Church.

If we don’t preach Christo-centrically, the hearer of the sermon might conclude that Jesus exists to help them fulfill their dreams, instead of being agents who co-labor with Him so His dream — the Kingdom of God — can become a life-giving reality here on earth.

Or we become moralistic preachers.  The Bible becomes a lifeless, flesh-satisfying, self-help book of principles on “how to be successful” or “how to get God to do what we want Him to do.”  Moralistic preaching produces legalists or people who quit under the weight of not living up to the standards.  By the way, moralistic, legalistic preachers don’t live up to their own standards either; that’s why they always seem mad.

Dance Move 3: Know the Content of Scripture and Context of the Culture

Preachers must understand the content of Scripture and context of the culture.  Before you think I’m all deep with that statement, I heard Dr. Ed Stetzer say it first.

It’s not enough to know the content of Scripture; we also need to know the people we’re preaching to and the culture they’re situated in.  The gospel never, ever, ever changes, but the culture does.  Therefore, we must be like an artist and paint a picture of Jesus and His redemptive work that hearers can see, feel, and respond to.

Dance Move 4: Head, Heart, Hands

After I’ve done my exegetical, Christo-centric work, I ask myself three questions:

  1. What do I want people to think about Jesus and His redemptive work? (Head)
  2. What do I want people to feel about Jesus and His redemptive work? (Heart)
  3. What do I want people to allow Jesus to do in their lives as a result of His redemptive work? (Hands)

Dance Move 5: Less, Simple and Passionate

Preachers, remember that less is more. Focus your sermons on one big idea or theme.  At the end my sermons, I have what I call a “Soul-tattoo.”  This is the one big idea that I want people to take home and do something with.

Preachers, be simple but not simplistic.  True genius is the ability to communicate the complex in a way that is easy to understand.

Preachers, preach like what you’re preaching has actually transformed and is transforming your life.

Dance to Your Own Sermon

Finally, I pray that my preaching flows of out Jesus’ transformative work in my own life. I pray my preaching is an act of worship in response to His wonder-inspiring grace.

Dance ... I say dance, so others can dance to the rhythm of God’s grace and get down, too!

Derwin L. Gray is the Lead Pastor of Transformation Church (www.tc521.org), a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community that loves God completely (Upward), ourselves correctly (Inward), and our neighbors compassionately (Outward) in Indian Land, South Carolina, near Charlotte, North Carolina. He and his wife Vicki have been married for 18 years and have two children, Presley and Jeremiah.  He is the author of Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart (Summerside 2009).

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David Buffaloe

commented on Mar 28, 2013

Interesting article. Dance on, Brother

Brandon H

commented on Mar 28, 2013

Good stuff. I'm a big fan if Christi-centric preaching.

Peter Feige

commented on Mar 28, 2013

What Derwin does not humbly disclose is used to be a pro NFL player...he saw the secular world first hand and has kept his faith! This guy is a true hero - one we desperately need! Preach on, Derwin!

Mark Drinnenberg

commented on Mar 28, 2013

Good stuff, Brother.

Lina Mohr

commented on Mar 28, 2013

This is an amazing analogy. My parents puts me in dance when I was 5 and I danced until i was 18. Ten years later I still dance around my house. I have never thought of my sermons as a dance before but I surely will now. Thank you so much Derwin!!!

Mark Nielson

commented on Mar 28, 2013

I'm not so much of a dancer...but I like the analogy! And your points are dead on! Thanks for sharing!

Horace Wimpey

commented on Mar 28, 2013

I never knew that I was a Christi-centric preacher. I just thought that all of scripture leads ultimately to Jesus. Thanks for the article.

Annette Johnson

commented on Mar 28, 2013

Great analogy, very enlightening Thanks, God Bless

Ray Corado

commented on Mar 28, 2013

Love this article!

Lemenisha Salmon

commented on Mar 29, 2013

well very informitive I love it and the idea

Lemenisha Salmon

commented on Mar 29, 2013

well very informitive I love it and the idea

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