I got behind again, but finally I am adding the last part of the challenge I set out to help jump start my own preaching. Of course there are so many more challenges and tips that could be added to the list of areas that I (or anyone who wants to be a better preacher) could work on and try to remember when preparing to preach a message. But doing pretty much ANYTHING is better than doing nothing.
Honestly, I can't say I have seen a huge improvement in my preaching, but I think as I continue to focus on some of these areas the extra work will pay off. I'm trying to continue each week with the tips I've picked up from previous challenges. Here is a review:
Week 1 - Scripture reference familiarity (being familiar with all the scripture you use in your sermon, and being able to quickly turn to, locate, or (even better) quote from memory).
Week 2 - Transitional statements (making sure the thought process of your overall message is clear and the points flow well from one to the other)
Week 3 - Sentence structure (working out how you are going to say things so that you aren't shooting from the hip with bad vocabulary, grammar, etc.)
Week 4 - Eliminating bad habits (figuring out some of the annoying and counter productive habits you have picked up, and trying to eliminate them)
Week 5 - Stepping out of your comfort zone (working on things you know would make your preaching more effective but you are too uncomfortable to do them)
So, for the final challenge, I want to work on something that isn't necessarily a super important part of communicating the Bible... but at the same time, it can be instrumental in helping people to remember the message we are preaching. Here is the challenge, I hope you will try it out as well...
Week 6 - Adding memorable material (finding appropriate material that will add something to the sermon that can not only clarify the main point but make it one that will be memorable to the congregation).
Some of sermons that have left the biggest impression on me, and that have helped me make much needed changes in my life, were sermons that had very memorable parts added skillfully to the presentation of the sermon. I have heard some preachers call this "theatrics," which at first didn't seem appropriate in regards to preaching the holy word of God. But then I considered many examples from the Bible:
So, after some thought, "theatrics" might be just the right word! I saved this for last, thought, because I have seen people make such a big emphasis on an object lesson or illustration that it took from the preaching of the Bible. We certainly don't want to sacrifice sound biblical preaching and teaching for a good show or something that will be memorable (I can think of preachers jumping over pews or climbing on top of the pulpit... and I don't remember anything about the message they preached that night that got me any closer to God!) So here are some guidelines to this challenge:
This can be a very fun part of putting together a sermon, and people will definitely appreciate the effort that you put into it. It takes work, but that is why I'm calling it a "Challenge!"
Hope this helps. God bless you, and may your passion for ministry grow as you addict yourself to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
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