Tim Keller is the bestselling author of The Reason for God and founding...
Evangelist J.John has delivered more than 7,000 sermons over a 34-year period, qualifying him to serve up some pretty solid preaching advice. The pulpit pundit put together these eight ‘dos and don’ts’ to help perfect your preaching.
…make it into a lead balloon. While J.John points out that ‘teaching the word of God is perhaps the most important thing you’ll ever do’, he believes serious points can be made in a light-hearted way. ‘When I preach, I want to make people laugh so that they see things seriously,’ he says.
…dilute scripture with your own opinions. ‘When we preach, we cannot and should not conceal our personalities, but we need to remember that a sermon is not simply a spoken blog through which we share our opinions with the world. Rather, preaching is about declaring God’s word,’ the evangelist shares.
…fish for compliments. It can be tempting to invite feedback after a sermon, but what you’re likely to be looking for is a firm pat on the back. ‘It’s encouraging for preachers to hear praise as they leave a meeting, but it’s far better to hear God being praised…A strong preacher is a selfless preacher.’
…waffle on and on. Make sure you know point you’re trying to make, and then stick to it! ‘There’s something about a sermon that defies the laws of physics. Some preachers can make 40 minutes seem like 20. Others turn 20 minutes into two hours.’
…pray before you preach. Preparation can get in the way of prayer when it comes to writing a sermon, but we need to talk to God if we are to do the job effectively. ‘We live in an age of unlimited websites, training programmes and software packages to aid us in sermon preparation. these have their uses, but all too frequently manage to marginalise God…Prayer and preaching go together.’
…be aware of your ‘audience’. The one-sermon-fits-all-congregations approach is a dangerous one. ‘Learn the art of being perceptive, in the Spirit, about the people that you are speaking to. Ask: who exactly is here today, listening?’
…come prepared. The time may come when you’re called upon to preach without any notice, but in general you will be expected to prepare. Having said that, J.John warns: ‘However hard you prepare your sermon, it works best when your preparation isn’t obvious…The safest way to appear spontaneous is to prepare very carefully.’
…stay animated. However tired or pressured you might feel, try to put some energy into your sermon. ‘To communicate that the gospel is life-changing without enthusiasm and zeal is to deny our words with our manner. Nothing is more convincing than conviction.'
Check out J.John’s full ‘Preaching Pitfalls’ article from the latest issue of Premier Christianity. If you’re not currently a subscriber, you can sign up here to receive this month’s magazine for free.
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