Preaching Articles

Now HERE’S a concept! Preach like it’s GOOD news! In Mark 16:15 (NLT) Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone!” 

I don’t know about you. but I love good news! I love getting good news. and I love giving good news! In fact, when I’m about to GET good news, I’m so excited I can hardly wait to hear it! When I’m about to GIVE good news, I don’t wait—I give it early! (On Christmas Day in my house, there’s nothing to open!) And, of course, JESUS is the BEST news in history!  Preach like it’s GOOD NEWS!

I have a question for you: When you’re giving good news to someone, how do you give it? Do you get a monotone voice? How ‘bout a preacher voice? Do you yell at them, belittle or condescend them? Do you use words they don’t understand? Does your body language look irritated or disapproving? Of course you don’t!

Could you imagine? "I’ve got good news for you! You’re a dummy! You’re a low-life scumbag who can’t seem to get anything right! You’re unfaithful, you’re selfish, you’re arrogant, you’re a liar, you’re undisciplined and you’re a cheat and a snake! And hey, bring a friend next Sunday as I’ve got good news for them, too!” 

Sadly, that’s what many of our “good news” churches feel like! Churchgoers get the beat down all week long—and the knockout punch hits hard on Sunday.

The Good News is supposed to be…GOOD NEWS! It’s all about JESUS! Jesus giving us salvation, hope, healing, forgiveness, peace, direction, inspection, correction, protection…OOHHH, I was startin’ to get my preach on! Our sermons should sound like good news and feel like good news; after all, the Good News is life-changing!

I’d like to give you five quick thoughts about what we ought to “be” when we give the Good News. Of course, there are hundreds — but these are the five that first shot through my mind.  

5 Things You Gotta Be When You're Giving the "Good News":

Thought #1: Be Fun. Now, I realize for some people, this is a greater miracle than the resurrection of Jesus! But be fun! Have a good time!   

Giving good news is FUN! Well, at least it should be.  

I have a saying at Impact Church that I established early on with my team and my congregation: “Church should be fun! In fact, church should be a God-sized party!” Pastor, if you’re not having fun, nobody is having fun! It’s not just any party—it’s God’s party! 

Too many people sit in too many churches that are way too boring! Smile! Laugh! Joke! Make fun of youself! When I make fun or laugh at myself, my church laughs with me—or at me. 

Church is fun when we’re having fun. Having fun relaxes people and opens their hearts. Be cheerful! 

Remember Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine...” Give them some good medicine! BE FUN!

Thought #2: Be You. When preaching the Good News, just be YOU!

You don’t have to be the ultimate sermonator to give the good news of Jesus—just be YOU! It’s crazy how hard it is to just be yourself, isn’t it? (Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way!)  I speak from experience, though!

This one concept nearly kept me out of church ministry. I would look at the local and national preacher/pastor landscape and think to myself, “Lord, you gotta be kidding me … you got the wrong guy!” I cant lead, preach or teach like Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, Mark Driscoll, Miles McPherson or Mark Batterson. But you know what I’m learning!? I CAN lead, preach and teach like Travis Hearn. And apparently God saw something in me, just like He sees in you, that is beneficial to the kingdom of God. Be YOU.  

I’m just a regular dude. I preach like a regular dude, I talk like a regular dude, I think like a regular dude and I pray like a regular dude. I gotta say, being me really works for me. 

God made you to be you. If you don’t be you, nobody else is going to be you. God created you to be you, so don’t try to be anybody else!

I shamelessly admit throughout my ministry years I’ve tried to lead, preach, teach and “be” like many of my pastor heroes who just weren’t me! I mean I’ve tried preaching like T.D. Jakes, clearly not enough diaphragm (it didn’t work even WITH a B3 Hammond behind me!). I’ve tried preaching like Rick Warren (only with socks! Maybe that’s where I went wrong). I’m not smart enough to be Batterson, not deep enough to be Driscoll, not cool enough to be Furtick, not creative enough to be McPherson, and not bold enough to be Noble (Well, maybe noble, but not Perry Noble.) But I AM Travis enough to be Travis—and YOU are YOU enough to be YOU!

When preaching the Good News, BE YOU. We need YOU. Your church needs YOU. And God needs YOU!  

Thought #3: Be Biblical. Acts 17:11 says,“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

Be noble. Be biblical. Handle God’s Word with absolute protection and care.

I know, we’re all pastors and preachers—we got this one down. But I feel like I HAVE to say it. Be biblical.    

Do YOU like it when someone spreads YOUR word with inaccuracies? When they mishandle YOUR word? I certainly don’t. 

It’s extremely frustrating when I tell somebody something only for them to turn around and tell others “sort of” what I said or “nothing at all” of what I said and mishandle my word. 

Make no mistake about it—at Impact Church, we have fun, laugh, joke, cry and we don’t take ourselves very seriously, but we do take God and God’s Holy Word VERY seriously. The Bible is holy. It’s God’s Word.  Each Sunday, I present God’s Word with a reverence and holy fear.  

The Bible says about the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:16:  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  

I love that:  “All Scripture is God-breathed.”

I also love that Jesus read from the Bible Isaiah 61:1 when He stood up in the church and talked about being anointed to preach the Good News. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

Look, whether you prefer to teach verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, Testament by Testament, topical, life application or a combination of the all the above—be biblical. Hermeneutics, homiletics, apologetics—be biblical. 

Teach the scriptures with accuracy. 2 Peter 3:16 tells us the mishandling of the Word can be dangerous—even destructive. 

Again, be fun, be you, be biblical, and ...

Thought #4: Be Available. Jesus was WITH the people. He was available. Jesus didn’t fly in like Superman wearing a Jesus-cape and rescuing people from the miry clay, dropping them on the solid rock to stay and then flying right back out again. He wasn’t in some cave in a green room snackin’ on figs and olives awaiting his grand introduction before he preached or did miracles. He was available and with the people. That makes the Good News VERY Good News! 

Jesus was and is available, and we need to be the same way. My advice is to lose the velvet wingback chair on the stage and get out into the lobby and be available. Your people need you. You will be blown away by what this will do for your church culture. You’ll go from a preacher to a pastor.

Being available means you’re vulnerable—just like Jesus was. You never know what somebody might say to you. Being available also means you’re not busy with something else—like finishing a sermon! I get it, most of us pastors are busier than a one-legged person in a butt-kicking contest. But be available.

Early in my NBA Chaplain career, a seasoned pastor friend of mine who ministered to professional athletes for over 20 years gave me sound advice:  “Travis, behind every face there’s a drama unfolding—every face.” Those words seemed to relax me as the superstars would trickle into the chapel room and celebrity faces would look to me for guidance. I learned early on that he was right: “Behind every face there’s a drama unfolding.” 

My church and your church are no different. Behind every face. there’s a drama, and THIS is what drives me. 

My goal for my life is this: More people leaving earth will be going to heaven, and fewer people living on earth will be going through hell. 

There are a lot of people going to heaven who are going through hell. Listen, the path to heaven isn’t through hell—it’s through Jesus.

When I became a Christian at 17 years old, my pastor used to tell me the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” You’ve heard that saying before and probably even preached on it. Frankly, I’m convinced that nobody cares how much I know even though they do know how much I care! People want to know that you care. So care. Be available.

EVERY Sunday, before and after each church service, my staff and I are intentional about mingling around the lobby, shaking hands, hugging necks, listening to people, crying with people, drinking coffee and hanging out with our friends and family of Impact Church.  

It’s amazing what this communicates to our people before I have even communicated from the pulpit. And when my staff and I do it, everyone does it. And when everyone does it, nobody wants to leave church. It becomes the buzz!  When church “service” is over, ministry has just begun. Our lobby becomes a place of fellowship, connection, prayer and relationship. It’s a powerful way to communicate before you communicate, to reach before for you teach. 

Be available. When preaching the Good News, be fun, be you, be biblical and be available. 

Thought #5: Be Strategic. Don’t shoot your lips from the hips. Before you ever even open your mouth, be strategic in communicating the Good News before you communicate the Good News! 

If  you were to remove your sermon from your church’s “service,” what would your church be communicating? What’s the news you're communicating? Does it feel like a God-sized party? Or a funeral? Is the building clean? Are there ministry workers in place? Does it feel alive with music playing? Are people having fun? Be strategic about communicating the Good News before you even say a word!

I thought I’d give you a few examples of ways that Impact Church communicates before I actually communicate with a sermon. You probably already use all of these as they’re nothing new—but if anything, they’ll be a fresh reminder. Here we go:   

1. Direct Mailers. We use high gloss, full-color direct mailers that communicate the feel of Impact. We just dropped 120,000 last week—they work. We are extremely purposeful about “what” is communicated on these mailers.

2. Press Releases and Articles. We place these in anything and everything we can get our hands on that’s within our target. 

3. School Marketing. We kill two birds with one stone. We help area schools fundraise for their programs. and we communicate about Impact on gymnasium, football field and baseball field banners.   

4. TV Shows and Commercials. We use TV shows and commercials to communicate before I communicate.  

5. Sign Spinners. Yes, dudes who spin signs. We use eight bright, hot green sign spinners out every weekend that also double as “directional signs” for our church so people can actually find us. (Our current building is hidden with zero drive-by visibility.)  

6. Parking Lot Attendants. Friendly, knowledgeable parking lot attendants with smiling faces who double as parking lot greeters. (These guys are rockstars, because in the summer in Scottsdale, hell starts trying to manifest and it’s scorching hot!)

7. Golf Cart Drivers. Friendly, knowledgeable golf cart drivers who shuttle people from down the road up to the church doors and from the church doors back to their cars.

8. Door Greeters. Friendly, knowledgeable door greeters who hand out bulletins and can double as information guides and even prayer team members. 

9. Banners and Signage. If you were to pull up to our church today, you’d see Impact Church banners that say, “One of the fastest growing churches in America.” That’s on purpose, obviously. That communicates before I communicate. You’d also see banners outside directing people to the front doors and to the kids' wing. As you walk into our lobby, we have signage that’s up high, big, clear and easy-to-read about where everything is located.

10. Free Coffee and Donuts. It’s amazing what these communicate and do for your church’s culture and atmosphere. People will arrive earlier and stay longer because just because you offer coffee and donuts! Oh, and by the way, donuts are KID MAGNETS!

11. Bulletins. They’re a great way to communicate vision and up-and-coming events. People also take them with them and give them away as inviting tools. Side note: I’ve seen a lot of church bulletins that look like funeral programs.  

12. Sermon Outlines for people to follow along and fill in the blanks. These also help them engage and remember the content better.  

13.  “You’ve Just Been Impacted" Cards. We’ve created business cards that say, “You’ve just been impacted.” Impact Church people take those into the community, secretly buy someone’s lunch, coffee, groceries or whatever—and leave one of these cards behind. They work! It truly does impact people and communicate the Good News!

I encourage you today to be strategic when preaching the Good News. In fact, do just that, preach like it’s GOOD NEWS: BE FUN, BE YOU, BE BIBLICAL, BE AVAILABLE and BE STRATEGIC.

Travis Hearn is the senior pastor of located in Scottsdale, Arizona and is also the Team Pastor for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Impact Church has experienced explosive growth and was recognized as an Outreach 100 Fastest Growing Church in America in 2013, ranking #2 by percentage and #9 overall.  Travis has served as Team Pastor for the Phoenix Suns since 2002 and also serves as the Oakland A’s Major League Baseball Team during Spring Training. Travis is married to Natalie and they have three kids: Kylie, Josiah and Jazzlyn.  The newest member of the Hearn family is a five-pound full grown Toy Schnauzer named Rocco.  Contact him on Twitter and Instagram @TravisHearn.

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Hannah Favour Smith

commented on Dec 11, 2013

Great insight! Thanks,the Lord bless you Pastor Travis Hearn.

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