Ten Tips for “Life Changing” Preaching!
Life change is our goal as pastors and teachers. Here are a few “bullet point” essentials to emotionally healthy preaching!
Preach from grounded place of a contemplative (i.e. out of deep place of prayer). Be grounded in one text, referring to it often through the message. Do thorough exegetical work.
Keep in mind the importance of silence and space in your preparation, adjusting your rhythms accordingly. You can’t do as many other leadership tasks. Embrace your limits. The text must change you first, both during and after the preparation. What is different in your life because of this sermon?
Know your burden, the one passionate truth God has given you to share. Keep the sermon simple and memorable. Cut. Cut. Cut. Connect to the larger biblical story (Creation, Fall, redemption, restoration).
Leave ample time in prayer and meditation around the text (e.g. lectio divina, memorizing the text). Utilize the power of community exegesis. Talk with others about your message beforehand. Connect your message to equipping/connecting opportunities, leading people to action (e.g. workshops on Skills, genogram workshop, retreats, Daily Offices, Day Alone with God, small group connections).
Be vulnerable and broken around the intersection of this truth and your humanity/journey with Christ. Be sure to create an introduction that answers the question: “Why listen to this?” Clear transitions are important throughout the sermon. Be intentional to emphasize that all of life is holy (work, recreation, sexuality, vacation, buying a car, friendships). Watch your language. For example: Everyone is called to “full time ministry.”
Be careful not to seek validation from the congregation when you are preaching. You aren’t ready to preach until the focus is on them and not on you. Connect the message to the larger vision of the church. Tell compelling stories around your main point, using strong visuals when appropriate.
Manage the tension of good sermon preparation and spontaneity (remaining open to the Holy Spirit during the preaching moment). Look for opportunities for creative delivery means to deliver your sermon whenever possible (e.g. Alone Together, Daily Office, Testimonies, “silent sermon,”panels.)
Be aware certain sermons are “Culture Shifting Sermons.” They go beyond the norm, shifting the church culture in a significant way. They require implementation, shifts in priorities, discussions as a leadership. They have a prophetic edge to them and release something spiritually into the community.
Embrace and communicate the theological tensions/paradoxes that exist. Preaching is not as black and white as we often think. There is lots of gray and complexity in Scripture. Remember the birthing/midwife process of preaching – death, burial, resurrection. Pain and suffering in the process is normal.
Build bridges! Be interdenominational, inter-generational, interracial, intercultural, being sensitive to bridge social classes in your preaching.