Preaching Articles

Recently, I've been writing about the doctrine of Biblical clarity—the fact that the Bible may be understood. This is a cause for great rejoicing. Imagine for a moment that the Bible were absolutely impregnable. Preachers are representing a God who made His book understandable, so we should model a passion for clarity in our communication.

Let’s have a rapid-fire list of factors that influence our clarity in preaching.  I’ll start, you finish:
1. Voice. If it isn’t loud enough and distinct enough, it isn’t clear enough.
2. Vocab.  Don’t try to impress; try to communicate.  Jargon doesn’t help; good word choice does.
3. Preaching Text.  If you stay in your text as much as possible, it should be easier to follow.
4. Structure. A memorable outline remembers itself. There’s no need to be clever. Be clear.
5. Main Idea. One controlling, dominant thought distilled from the passage is critical for clarity.
6. Unity. Let every element of the message serve the main idea—nothing extraneous.
7. Order. Take the most straightforward path through the message so others can follow.
8. Transitions. Slow down through the turns or you’ll lose the passengers.
9. Pace. Sometimes you really need to take the foot off the pedal to keep people with you.
10. Visual Consistency.  Keep your gestures and scene “locations” consistent to reinforce well.
11. Verbal Consistency.  Let key terms rain down through the message. Don’t be a thesaurus. 
12. Restatement. Restate key sentences in different words. It's less patronizing, but helps clarity.
13. Illustrative Relevance.  Be sure illustrative materials have a clear connection to the message.
14. Flashback and Preview.  Whenever appropriate, review and preview at transitions.
15. Pray.  Pray for message clarity during preparation. God cares about this!
That’s a start. What would you add?

Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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Keith B

commented on May 9, 2012

Good article. I enjoy Mead's writing. Wish all of Sermon Central's articles were as good.

Pastor Herbert W. Roshell

commented on May 9, 2012

Well said and easy to follow! Just about covered everything. Focus: Focus on the message and not the people (there faces), as Paul tells Peter. One miss read face expression, can change the whole message. Thanks for the awesome read and helpful points.

Aaron Householder

commented on May 9, 2012

Great, concise points. 15 points may be long, but you followed your own advice on clarity. Thank you.

Bomohan Etwaru

commented on May 10, 2012

Yes, Sir! It could not be put in better words. Thanks for putting so precisely.

Robert Sickler

commented on May 10, 2012

Good advice and well put

John E Miller

commented on May 14, 2012

Really appreciate these thoughts and will take them to heart. You're never too old to learn!

George Warner

commented on Jul 24, 2020

Nothing sharpens sight like envy. He who envies admits his inferiority.

George Warner

commented on Jul 24, 2020

Two relevant sayings from the Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs : Nothing sharpens sight like envy. He who envies admits his inferiority.

George Warner

commented on Jul 28, 2020

Concerning messages posted here by this man and others like him containing meticulous advice on how they think sermons ought to be written and voiced, I have this to say : Is there any proof that these men are benevolent counsellors and not just jealous patronizers ? Prophecy has always been a gift. It was never an education certificate. In Numbers 22 God empowered an ass to speak with a human voice. The Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs warns : All fame is dangerous, good bringeth envy, bad shame. Nothing sharpens sight like envy. Faults are thick where love is thin.

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