Summary: Helping believers keep their witness fresh and relevant.
“God has sent me to help his church and to tell his secret plan to you Gentiles. He has kept this secret for centuries and generations past, but now at last it has pleased him to tell it to those who love him and live for him, and the riches and glory of his plan are for you Gentiles too. And this is the secret: that Christ in your hearts is your only hope of glory. So everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen, warning them and teaching them as well as we know how. We want to be able to present each one to God, perfect because of what God has done for each of them. This is my work, and I do it only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me.”
Colossians 1:24-29, TLB
One of the great challenges facing a pastor today has to do with STAYING FRESH with regard to his preaching. He needs to be interesting, relevant, and inspiring. This is especially true in the light of television and radio. Let’s face it, pastors are competing with outstanding communicators. He must do all he can to avoid staleness in the pulpit at all cost.
Some folks take sominex to get the sleep they need, while others go to church and partake of sermonex!
E. C. McKenzie said, “A good sermon helps people to two ways: Some rise from it greatly strengthened; others wake from it greatly refreshed.”
I don’t know where you might stand on that, but I do know that much can be said in just a few moments. Wise is the preacher who is aware of the attention span of his audience.
The Chapel Hero
They gave him 20 minutes, but he finished up in 10.
O, there’s a prince of speakers, and a servant unto men.
His diction wasn’t much; he hemmed a hawed a bit,
But still he spoke a lot of sense, and after that he quit.
At first we sat plum paralyzed, then cheered and cheered again,
For they gave him 20 minutes and he finished up in 10!
Well, how does a preacher hold his hearer’s attention? How does he keep from being stale, irrelevant, and boring?
This especially difficult if he has pastored for any length of time at one church. He has to be fresh and sharp every Sunday. Today he is competing with the likes of D. James Kennedy, Charles Stanley, and Robert Schuller. People in the pews tend to make comparisons. They expect a great deal from their pastor.
On average I prepare and deliver about 150 sermons each year. It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that in ten years, that means 1,500 sermons. What a challenge to stay fresh!
I suspect that is one reason why some pastors move so often. They can keep repeating the same sermons.
Of course no matter how hard he tries, someone is going to be bored or unhappy with the preacher’s style, mannerisms, or subject matter. (man who counted the number of times a preacher pushed his glasses up on his nose). He can take comfort in the fact that even the best communicators in the nation have their critics. For example, President Ronald Reagan, who was called, The Great Communicator, had to deal with those who poured over his speeches with a magnifying glass in hand.
I have on occasion, observed those in slumber while preacher. I have always attributed it to lack of sleep, illness, or growing pains (as in the case of teenagers).
HERE’S WHAT PREACHERS CAN DO!
1. Use Gimmicks—I must confess that in the early days of ministry, I was probably guilty of this. It isn’t long before these sorts of things begin to disappear.
2. Theatricks—for example, jumping up and down on a table to act out the story of Zaccheaus (I actually saw an evangelist do this). Of course, we should be careful in judging others regarding their motives, but some things are better left in the theatre.
3. Telling Jokes—A pastor was visiting a family one day. He knocked on the door but no one answered it. He knocked again and again, but still no answer. He thought he heard someone inside but they just wouldn’t answer the door. Finally he wrote a note and slipped it under the door. It was Rev.3:20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.” Four days later he received a note in the mail and it was Genesis 3:10: “I heard the sound of thee in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.”
Don’t get me wrong; humor has its place in a sermon, but if it has too prominent a place, congregations will catch on and be turned off.