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I have a lot of teaching pastors who follow my writing. You are professional talkers. You spend most of your workweek figuring out what you’re going to say. Then, you spend most of your time in front of your biggest audience on Sunday morning actually saying it.

Let’s not forget, though, you’re the professional. I am not. You know more than I do. Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you are effectively sharing that wisdom. I’ve tuned out a lot of smart people in my life. You can blame me for not staying engaged in your message. (I’m sure your problem is really my problem.)

Just in case you want my advice, though, here are some tips to keep guys like me (who aren’t as smart as guys like you) engaged in your message.

10 Ways to Keep Me Engaged in Your Message

1. Be real.

Let people see the actual human inside you. Most times, that will occur through your personal stories.

2. Talk like normal people talk.

I didn’t grow up in the church, so I don’t understand when you talk with a Christian accent.

3. Use humor.

If you don’t make me laugh, I’m probably going to tune you out. By the way, the best humor is revealed through your everyday life.

4. Don’t tell me what to think.

Lead me on the journey toward truth, but let me reach my own conclusions. In other words, don’t try to sell it.

5. Be honest.

If I think you’re credible, there’s a better chance I’ll think your message is credible.

6. Avoid being too polished.

In fact, I love it when you leave your prepared statements and share anything off the cuff.

7. Reveal your weaknesses.

As silly as it may seem, it makes me smile when I hear about your mistakes. It helps me to respect the areas where you are gifted.

8. Be brief.

Shorter is better. I’m probably only going to remember one or, at the most, two things that you say.

9. Make me smart.

I don’t care how smart you are, but I like it when you make me feel smart. That’s easier when you use small words and make it easy for me to apply what you’re teaching.

10. Tell me why I should care.

Help me understand why I should listen. If you don’t help me understand why it’s relevant to my life, I’ll tend to be thinking about my next blog post or my next tee time or my favorite 80s slow dance songs.

I’ve never had a seminary course on preaching, so I really don’t know anything about what it takes to prepare a good sermon. I think I’m pretty knowledgeable, though, when it comes to keeping people like me alert and engaged. Hopefully, this helps you help people like me.

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Bobby Landreth

commented on May 1, 2012

RIGHT ON!!! As a Pastor, I believe what you said is right on target. I Love my fellow brothers, however....I must be dumb....because when we start using big words....I get lost trying to figure out what was just said, or if they were talking about me? Every Sunday that I do Speak....I believe God is telling me K.I.S.S. "Keep It Simple Son".... We don't win folks to the kingdom of Heaven, into a relationship with big words, we will be used by Christ better when we use His Mark 1:40-41 Passion and Compassion....so thank you!! www.allaboutthecross.org - Bobby

David Buffaloe

commented on May 1, 2012

Spurgeon wrote a sermon once called "Entertaining Goats or Feeding Sheep" - and I think that's about where we are with the seeker sensitive movement. Jesus never spoke so as to be understood. He said He spoke in parables ?That seeing they may see, and not perceived: and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them. And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will you know all parables?? Mark 4:10-13 Speak trusting God the Holy Spirit and God's Holy Book. Avoid seminary words, but quit dumbing down the Gospel to appeal to a foolish and gainsaying generation. The Church already has enough goats in it, and old goats leading it. Let's trust God, shoot the goats with the Gospel, and fill the sheep with the Word.

Zachary Bartels

commented on May 1, 2012

There's some good stuff in this article, but David Buffaloe's comments make for a good challenge/corrective. Sure, avoid talking about "supralapsarianism" in a sermon, but there's no reason to cater ot the lowest common denominator. Jesus sure didn't.

Paul-Chukwuka Oliver

commented on May 1, 2012

More of a seeker sensitive person.Been all things to all men.Some great points in it though.Thanks and God bless you pastor.

Robert Sickler

commented on May 2, 2012

Good comments for any speaker in any situation. Thus, your article can apply to a preacher.

Dav Ross

commented on May 2, 2012

I reckon you left out using a reliable modern translation of the Bible in your readings. Great thoughts, thanks.

Frank Stegner

commented on May 5, 2012

There are some useable tips, people need a strong message a great speaker and all that. They also want the power and presents of God, let's never forget to follow the Holy Spirit and challenge them to press toward God. We live in a society today where people have never experienced the presents of GOD!

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