Preaching Articles

Although I plan my messages out in advance, there is more that leaders must consider when teaching. We all know that it is important to know what you are teaching, but it is becoming even more important to know how they are learning! Each generation has their own modality by which they best absorb new information.

I have three children. One of them likes phone calls. The other likes e-mail, and the youngest demands that I text her. I called her one day, thinking how nice a dad I was for thinking of her. She answered in exasperated tones: “Dad, DON’T call me! What if I were in a movie? Text me, Dad. Text me!”

We need to start at a new starting point. It is no longer “what” I want to teach. It is “how” they best learn! Here are a few tips:

1. Use more word pictures.

Young people have grown up with computers, television, computer games, and other illustrated ways in which they interact. Word pictures help your listeners mentally track with you.

2. Let them interact with you.

Interaction is important to the new learners. Your listeners want to “talk back” to the communicator. Laughter is one way. Another is reading aloud. One thing I do is to let them finish a sentence for me. “God is not against us! He is really…” (The answer, if you can’t figure it out, is “for us!”)

3. Use personal illustrations to underscore a truth.

Listeners want to know if you have experienced what you are talking about. They want to know if you have felt the pain or the struggle. They want transparency and authenticity. New teachers teach not only out of their knowledge but also out of their scars.

4. Simplify without becoming remedial.

One person said that communicators take complicated subjects and make them simple. Teachers, on the other hand, take simple subjects and make them complicated. The world needs communicators who will help them understand the simplicity of God’s love and ways.

5. Take the time to explain things theologically.

People will no longer settle for pat answers. Loyalty to a denomination or to a body of pre-approved knowledge no longer exists. They are curious and want to know why. Why is homosexuality something that is unacceptable in the Bible? Why is living together frowned upon? What is wrong with drinking alcohol? How can Christian leaders be so hypocritical and not think anything about it?

Alvin Toffler said: “Those who are the literate of the future will not be those who can read and write. It will be those who can learn, un-learn, and re-learn.”

There are many habits we must un-learn, and then re-learn new ways of delivering the timeless message of Jesus Christ. It’s not about technology. It’s about gearing our delivery to the ways they learn best. I remember an adage from my old Youth for Christ days: “Anchored to the Rock; geared to the times.”

It still rings true today.

Wayne Cordeiro is the founding pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii with   over 14,500 in weekend attendance. New Hope is also listed as one of the top ten most innovative churches in America with Outreach magazine, listing them as one of the “top five churches to learn    from.” New Hope is known for redeeming the arts and technology. Over 3000 attend services each    week via the Internet, and New Hope has seen over 73,000 first-time decisions in Hawaii since its inception 26 years ago.

He has authored ten books, including such classics as Doing Church as a Team, Dream Releasers, Seven Rules of Success, Attitudes That Attract Success, Divine Mentor, Leading on Empty and The Encore Church. Wayne is also the author of the Life Journal, which is being used by thousands of churches worldwide, is bringing people back to the Word of God.

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Todd Pope

commented on Aug 8, 2011

I like the article alot. It reminds me of something one of my Bible College professors said. "Principles don't change, but methods do." He then reminded us that Jesus didn't heal the same way twice. The principle is that Jesus heals, but he didn't want His disciples to get caught up in a formula (spit, make mud, smear on eyes = healing). That same thing holds true for communicating. We need to COMMUNICATE the message in a way that the hearer has the best opportunity to understand and apply. Kind of sounds like missions, huh?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 8, 2011

This one excellent article. Whole heartedly I agree!

Ron Hoffmann

commented on Aug 8, 2011

Really helpful article for us 'older' guys who have been in ministry for 30 years. I really appreciated Wayne's points to use more stories and explain theologically! I agree that 'postmoderns' NEED both. good stuff! thanks

Matt Worstell

commented on Aug 9, 2011

This seems to be the normal the Jesus used. Great article.

Patsy Collins

commented on Jan 18, 2013

I love Wayne Cordeiro, and this article really was a help.The comment by Todd Pope,opened my eyes for the first time to the fact that "Principles don't change, but Methods do". I have been a pastor ( woman ) for almost 22 yrs. and from the OLD SCHOOL. Now I shall be praying about what God wants me to do !! Patsy C.

Palitha Jayasooriya

commented on May 26, 2018

Easy to read and very practical. Blessed by the article.

Steve Darnall

commented on May 27, 2018

The interactive changes are not just about this generation. I also worked at a university. About 35 years ago we made changes in how we teach based upon data that showed even if interactive learning was done at a mediocre level, compared to even the best and most dynamic lecture style interactive results in better knowledge retention and skill development in the learners. It was hard on the egos, especially among the most impressive teachers. But we learned to value egoless teaching and go with effective rather than impressive. For some reason we are slower to learn these lessons in our church traditions, glad to see this article bring these up.

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