One of the greatest opportunities I’ve had in life was working at Fellowship Church and being a member of the creative team that helped Pastor Ed Young plan creative messages. I remember hearing Ed often say he never preached a 25-minute sermon he didn’t like. I agree.
The reality is, there are few people who can preach longer than 30 minutes without losing their audience. A good philosophy is to leave them wanting more, not wanting to get out!
Here are 10 tips for creating shorter and more effective messages:
1. Cut Your Introduction
Don’t spend so much time trying to set things up. Get in and get out by avoiding too much detail and long stories. A good idea is to shoot for a three-minute introduction.
2. Minimize Lists
Long lists of examples can add length, especially if you comment on each one. Try combining similar points and using these examples in a sentence rather than a list.
3. Stick to the Point
Define what the main thing is you want people to walk away with and stick to this thought. Cut information that is not relevant to this idea. Remember, you can always use it later!
4. Plan the Landing
Know how you want to land the plane and don’t ramble at the end of your message. Focus on one main challenge/thought, develop a power statement, or perhaps refer back to your introduction by stating how the problem can be solved.
5. Try a One Point Message
Most people will not remember three points and all the detail you may want to give. Try picking one big truth you want to teach and give the audience clear cut examples of how they can go home and do it on Monday morning.
6. Practice Your Sermon
Take time to preach your sermon out loud. Not only will you be able to time it, but you will also uncover parts that are confusing, too long or just boring.
7. Plan With a Team
Share your thoughts and outline with others. This will help you discover things that don’t make sense, lack impact/interest or are irrelevant to your main thought.
8. Don’t Get Emotionally Attached
Sometimes we fall in love with an idea or illustration and have a hard time cutting it. Be willing to slice and dice in order to keep your audience engaged.
9. Control Your Creativity
Don’t waste time with illustrations, props, videos and other creative elements that distract the audience rather than enhance your message. If using them, make sure they are memorable and drive the main point, not a sub-point of a sub-point.
10. Critique Your Message
Take time between services to evaluate your message with a team and then watch it on Monday. Regular critique will help you pick up on things that add length to your sermons.
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