The best sermons are conversations. You want to make everyone feel as if you are having a conversation with them. Like they’re the only person in the room. Like you’re sitting at a table with with them and discussing a problem, a concern, a big thing God wants them to do.
Two primary points of feedback I’ve heard recently about my sermons:
You come across very personable when you preach.
You have a conversational preaching style.
In most cases they elaborate about how my approach makes them feel. They say that it is disarming because they can relate to me like I’m a real person – not a disconnected preacher guy. Because I seem authentic, they trust me and want to listen.
I understand that not everyone takes a conversational approach. Matt Chandler is super effective at yelling at his church for an hour. 10,000+ people listen to him do that. So I’m not saying conversational style is the only way, but I am suggesting it’s worth a try.
Here is a way to experiment with a conversational approach:
1. When you prepare, think about the obvious questions or objections that people will have about the point you’re making.
For example, I was preaching on 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 which is about how married couples should not deprive one another but have sex frequently. I knew there were lots of married couples listening that are not having all that much sex for a variety of reasons. These individuals might find the text annoying or offensive. They might find me annoying or offensive for bringing it up.
2. Anticipate how you would answer that question or objection.
Think about how you would answer the objection if you were actually having a conversation with someone. You probably wouldn’t dismiss their arguments as ridiculous and stupid. You would probably try to see things from their perspective. You would probably make a point to affirm something about what they’re feeling.
In my example above, I had to think about how I was going to address the elephant in the room (or the donkey).
3. In your sermon, bring it up. This is something I like to call, “Having the conversation in front of everyone.”
Given that preaching is a one-sided conversation you have to bring up both sides of the argument.
Going back to my example, rather than spending a lot of time on what the Greek word for “deprive” really means, I decided to “have the conversation in front of everyone.” What was the conversation? Well, it was to just bring up the fact that lots of people quickly dismiss a passage like that instead of obey it because they just wish it would go away. By bringing this up I was able to challenge people to rethink their tendency to ignore the passage because it makes them so uncomfortable to deal with their sexual dysfunction.
I have found that by simply stating the obvious and “having the conversation” people disarm and engage better with the content because it seems more believable and real.
What approach has worked for you? Do you take a conversational approach?