Preaching Articles

Here are six reasons why Andy Stanley is one of the top communicators of our time.

1. He understands the people.

I get the sense that Andy truly understands the people sitting in the rows. I've heard him reference "your first marriage" many times. Recently, one of his application questions was about child support. This kind of understanding and the real-life examples he works into his messages build credibility.

2. He is a master of the content.

Andy doesn't use notes, and if you pay attention you'll see him reference a slide on the screen just before it appears. That's because he's prepared. He knows his material and he's not reading it from a sheet of paper.

3. He will get you to agree with him in the first five minutes.

I've listened to thousands of sermons from dozens of preachers in my life, and I've never heard anyone create tension like Andy Stanley. In the first five minutes of a message, you'll find yourself agreeing with something. He might say, "You've thought this..." and you'll agree in your heart. Even if you disagree with the truth, you'll agree with the emotion. This is incredible, because if you can get someone to agree with you about something early on, you'll be far more likely to get them to agree to take an action step in the end.

4. He speaks to a broader audience.

If you were to watch a video of Andy speaking, you probably wouldn't know when and where he was when speaking. That's because he's not just preaching to the people in the room; he's preaching to people in other rooms. He knows that his audience is larger than the people looking at him. You may think, "I don't have the need to do that because we don't have other campuses and this message isn't on the Internet," but the process of speaking "evergreen" will make you a better communicator.

5. He tackles tough topics with grace.

Last year, I heard Andy talk about the tough subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage. He handled the topic with grace, but also spoke the truth. He was courteous and recognized that everyone wouldn't agree with his message, but that didn't keep him away from explaining what the Bible said on the subject. People don't feel beat up, but know they need to make changes.

6. He speaks with vision.

Andy often uses the word "imagine" and paints a picture for people of what life would be like if they applied the principle he is teaching. He causes you to think about the future, whether he's talking about marriage, faith or finances.

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After a dozen years working with students, and six years a church planter, Michael currently works with churches across the country with The Change Group.

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Chris Surber

commented on Dec 5, 2012

Good insights. My knee-jerk reaction is "hay, I don't want to preach like Andy Stanley... I want to preach like the best version of what God created me to be!" However, these insights can go along way toward helping every preacher do just that. What I find interesting is the different style of Andy and Charles Stanley. Both are very effective in different ways for different reasons. Again, that points us to the reality that God uses different men with vastly different styles in different settings to impact people for the kingdom. Good article.

Keith B

commented on Dec 5, 2012

I'm not sure that it's good to lift up Andy Stanley's sermon-lite style as a good example of how to preach. I realize that there are things he does well, which is why a lot of seminaries use his book for Homiletics classes.

Gene Cobb

commented on Dec 5, 2012

Don't mean this badly, but I have never heard Andy Stanley preach. I asked my husband, he hasn't either. Happy that Andy does such a great job. I just want to be the Pastor/Preacher that God wants me to be. Just checked in with Sermon Central to read the post for today, back to working on my sermon for this Sunday. Wishing all a blessed Advent! Pastor LaFern

Roger Lewis

commented on Dec 5, 2012

k b, the article is not so much about content as it is process and style. You can apply these things to any depth. I personally take exception to describing Stanley's content as "sermon lite". To me there's a difference in being "deep and theological" and digging deep into the heart of issues, sins, and where people really live.

Leslye Haller

commented on Dec 5, 2012

Thanks LaFern I was thinking the same thing--who's Andy Stanley? :)

James R. Warren Jr.

commented on Dec 5, 2012

No disrespect to Andy, I'm sure he does a wonderful job. But, I want to preach like Jesus! I want my life to preach. I believe the focus should be more on how to lead people to Christ. I want to be remember for how many souls I lead to heaven, not for how great my sermons were. Not taking away from the importance of clear, effective, and powerful preaching. I just get a little nervous when we start posting articles on how to preach like... and not like Christ.

Bill Williams

commented on Dec 5, 2012

@James, I understand your concern. But with the possible exception of #3, none of these principles really contradict the preaching ministry of Jesus, himself. I agree that Jesus is our ultimate example. Yet, that should not exclude us from looking to other preachers who exhibit biblical principles as examples from whom one can learn. Paul wrote, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

Bill Williams

commented on Dec 5, 2012

@kb, the problem with the term "sermon-lite" is that it doesn't really communicate anything meaningful. What does a person who uses such a term actually trying to say? Is the person saying that the sermon is not "deep"? Well, who decides what is "deep"? How "deep" exactly should a sermon be? The term is just too subjective. In practical use, the term has come to mean really nothing more than simply, "I just don't like it." It is more of a personal opinion, and less of an objective evaluation. I think a more useful question to evaluate a sermon would be to ask, "Is it true?" The Bible is infinitely deep, and the deeper you dig, the more truth you find. But truth that is found at the surface of the text is just as worthy of being preached as is truth that is found further down!

Chuck Hampton

commented on Dec 5, 2012

Andy Stanley is one of the most effective communicators I have ever heard. His connection with his audience is reflective of the teaching style of Christ.

Charles Mallory

commented on Dec 6, 2012

Ok...don't mean to be the sour-puss , but yes...good article..BUT! I am trying not to be offended by Point #2 "mater of the content." I am growing wearing with authors who seem to be taking "jabs" at pastors who use notes, scripts, etc. I am sure Andy is a great communicator, but taking experience from working with another well-known "TV Pastor" you may want to look closely in the "greenery" and architecture of the will find uniquely hidden "teleprompters"(TV Monitors) ...they may not use PAPER, but they (some, not all) have "ear pieces" and TV monitors helping them "stay on track" with their sermons. Be careful how we praise those who "don't use notes." They are using notes...just not on paper. Nothing at all wrong with this...just sayin'!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Dec 6, 2012

@Charles I agree. I too get tired of people implying that if you use notes or God-forbid a manuscript, you somehow aren't really preaching effectively. I personally use a manuscript. It keeps me on track, it keeps me from chasing rabbits. I am preaching while I am writing my sermon. Sometimes I even get loud in my head and pound my desk : ). That isn't to say that I don't follow the Holy Spirit's lead when He gives me a thought that I hadn't thought of before during the service. That certainly happens often and after I share it I get right back on track. Some of the great preachers of the past used manuscripts. So what's the big deal as long as people are being fed the Word of God and lives are being changed?

Dave Bretch

commented on Dec 6, 2012

This is an outstanding article, and so true! I have been listening to Andy almost weekly since 2001. Just listening to him has helped me so much in my personal preaching. He hits home ONE point and is super-practical. He takes a passage I have read many times and makes you think about it in a new and fresh way. There is a reason he has the second largest church in America. He is relevant, practical, and very deep - I am always greatly challenged in my faith every time I listen to him! I thank God for this leader of leaders!

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