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Ways to Improve Communication and Delivery of Sermons

by Paul Powell

(Excerpted from Baptist Press article)

  • Preach simply, plainly and naturally. "Talk where people understand it. We're feeding sheep, not giraffes, so don't go over their heads. You can be deeply spiritual and perfectly natural at the same time."
  • Preach in the present tense. "People want to know how to live in the freeways and crowded apartment buildings of life. Eternal truth is not just in the sweet bye and by, but in the nasty here and now."
  • Preach with passion. "Don't be afraid of emotion in your preaching. Any preacher who neglects emotion may find his congregation dying. People are looking for more emotion and less intellectualism in church, but do not go into excess."
  • Preach freely. "Either don't use notes or use scant notes, so you won't have to rely on them. Use your whole body in preaching. To be talked to death is a terrible way to die. Some preachers wear robes and hoods, and that's their prerogative, but people need to see what we feel."
  • Preach interestingly. "Develop an eye and ear for illustrations in magazines, television and conversations. Carry a pencil and pad around with you constantly, or they may pass you by. They let light and fresh air into a sermon.  There's enough dullness in the world without you adding to it.
  • Sermons should be interesting. If some people go to sleep during  your sermon,  you're the one who needs to wake up."
  • Preach enthusiastically. "When you preach, someone has got to get tired--you or your congregation."
  • Preach with an element of confession and humanness. "We don't need to pretend we're someone we're not. We struggle just like they do. The disciples never pretended to be super-saints."
  • Preach for a verdict. "What are you driving at? What do you want the audience to do? If you don't know what you want them to do, how do you expect them to know? Every preacher should preach like a lawyer and know what the verdict is going to be."
  • Preach with authority. "You can't wake up a church that's asleep without disturbing it. The ministry of preaching can be a hot seat sometimes. If you're a wimp, then go sell shoes. If you preach, speak boldly and with authority and tell the truth in love. That kind of preaching touches the heart."
  • Preach with humor. "Humor breaks down barriers. If you can get a congregation to laugh, you can come back and say almost anything to them."
  • Preach with a sense of hope. "We're to encourage people, not browbeat them. If you have to err, err on the side of grace. We're in the business of throwing ropes, not throwing rocks. Never leave the Son on the cross or the prodigal son in the pig pen. Leave people with a sense of hope that they can find mercy and forgiveness."
  • Preach prayerfully. "Do not confuse or amuse, but infuse with the gospel. We're not just being clever speakers and telling sob stories. Rely on prayer, and see what God can do."
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