Summary: Preaching seminar taken from Eccl 12:9
PREACHING – THE NEED TO NAIL IT
Ask most pastors today if they are good preachers and most will say that they are better than average. In fact, 90% of pastors surveyed ranked themselves as great preachers. There is always the temptation to overestimate our preaching. Every preacher is someone’s favorite! Today I want to talk about a few simple things that can help you to be a better preacher.
Preaching has a huge influence. Your 30 minutes of un-interrupted communication can be greatly used by God to build up the lives of people. Because of this, preaching is a huge responsibility. As it says in James 3:1 - “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”.
The major goal of preaching is not to make people like you or to entertain them. It is not to show off your education or even to give biblical content. The goal of preaching is to produce life change. It is not information but transformation. We want people to leave the service different then when they first came in.
Eccl 12:9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails -- given by one Shepherd.
1. Knowledge is not enough – he imparted knowledge
Knowing the truth is not enough. You can understand a passage of scripture but that is not enough. You must also be able to communicate that truth in a way that others will understand. The issue is not if YOU know it but whether you can communicate it so that OTHERS will know it as well.
Preaching starts with selecting a passage that you feel God wants to communicate to the church. You don’t base your decision on what YOU think is important or simply the stories YOU like. You must put yourself in the place of the people you are preaching to and then seek God’s help in choosing the passage that the people need to hear.
2. Preparing to communicate is hard work – he pondered and searched out
The teacher here did the work of first letting the text speak to him. The word for PONDER is AWZAN which means broaden the ear with the hand. In other words, he LISTENED. The word used for SEARCHED OUT is KHAWAR which means to PENETRATE. Before he began to organize his teaching he first took the time to listen and to allow the text to penetrate his heart and mind.
This is a critical step in the preparation of your message. Once you have chosen the text you need to take time and let the passage of scripture speak to you. At this point you do not want to be doing any research. You need to simply read the text over and over again until you really feel you have a grasp of what the passage is trying to say.
3. Organize your message – he set in order many proverbs
The word used here for SET IN ORDER means to STRAIGHTEN. Once you feel that you have a good understanding of what the text is trying to say then you need to try and break the passage down into bite sized chunks or points.
When you eat a steak you cannot simply stuff the whole thing in your mouth and then try to swallow it. That just makes you choke. Likewise it is important when presenting a sermon that you try to draw a single focus (Big Idea) from the text and then a limited number of points that support it. These points all need to line up (be straightened) so that they can be understood.
I often use 3 or 4 points in my sermons. The reason for this is that 2 is not enough and beyond 4 starts getting hard to remember and understand.
4. Presenting the message – he searched for just the right words
The words you choose and the way they are organized is very important. Once I have my points I try to fill in the main content of the message. Each point should build on the others and point back to the main idea that the text is talking about. For each point I then try to pick just the right stories to illustrate the point.
Why should you use a lot of stories? Story telling is the most effective form of verbal communication. Jesus was a story teller. When you tell a story it engages the imagination of the listener. You can preach the same sermon every year but if you repeat a story everyone remembers. In a sermon illustrations are like windows in a house. The more you have the brighter it is inside but you can’t use too much or else you weaken the structure.