Thursday, July 15, 2010

Preaching - Tips on Communicating God's Word Today


I find myself thinking again about communication, and effective ways to communicate truth to a crowd in a way that creates change in the listener. I never want to preach to a crowd that doesn't listen, or preach to a crowd that doesn't respond. Over the last 10 years I have already had the chance to preach many times, and share the message of Jesus to many different crowds/congregations and in many different settings and environments. So what could I offer in this blog that hasn't already been said about preaching? What could Pete possibly say about communication that will inspire me? Maybe these tips on preaching and communication are just reminders, or encouragements for you, but here are some thoughts nonetheless. (Feel free to add some more below).

It is important, when preaching the Word of God, to narrow things down to ONE clear point. People won't remember the rest! Here's a test, remember these numbers: 76, 34, 53, 32, 14... Ok without looking can you remember any of the numbers? Now what about: 18, 18, 18, 18. What's the number? You remembered! If you can preach with one thought and draw all your stories, anecdotes, analysis and scripture to draw out this ONE point, people will remember! Haddon Robinson "Bibilical Preaching" calls it 'The Big Idea'. Andy Stanley in "Communicating for a Change" says to 'pick a point'. If you've got too many points to carve into one sermon then preach a series.

I stood there one morning with a piece of laminated card on my forehead. String around my head held the card up to the congregation. Some of my friends still remember the 'L' shaped letter with its bright green colour and its element of stupidity. They remember too, that morning as I spoke on the importance of leadership in the local church (I still remember touching on integrity, passion and purpose). My tip? Think about the creative factor. My wife, Jo, stole the show away when she spoke on Hosea one morning (last year), wearing a wedding dress and speaking on infidelity and sinfulness. Absolute classic!

I'm aware of the statement that says, that we don't come with wise and persuasive words, but with the Spirit's power, and I agree with that. Without God's Spirit opening up the Scriptures to us in the first place and without the Spirit revealing truth to the listeners it is just like a nice political campaign speech, 'Hi, my name's Pete, and I'm here to offer nothing of substance into your life as you listen to this...' There's a quote rolling around in my head that says, 'pray as if it all depends on God and work as if it all depends on you' (correct me if I'm wrong!). What about, 'Prepare and pray like it all depends on God, and when you preach still give it all you got!' It is naive to be ill-prepared in the, 'I'm just going to let the Spirit move this morning' kind of talks. Maybe there's a time for them; but every week?! Hey, time to do some bible study!

Communicating biblical exegesis without good hermeneutics is like being stuck in the desert without a bottle of water; you don't know where you are, where you're meant to go, and you feel dry and empty inside. The Word of God MUST speak into our everyday lives. The fact that Paul writes about peace while he's in prison, says something about the level of peace we can experience in life. When Jesus feeds the five thousand, says something of the fact that God can provide for our every need. When Elijah lifts a prayer to God and the rain comes, shows us that God answers prayer today and can use you to transform the stratosphere! If there is merely biblical insight and teaching based on what happened in Palestine, or what happened in Egypt with Moses (Biblical exegesis) and we never find an application to OUR everyday life (hermeneutics), then most of our congregations will be left wandering. It may be ok for biblical scholars and up and coming theologians, and University students, but everyday people need an everyday Bible that affects their everyday life.

For those that find themselves preaching to a crowd and communicating the message of the Kingdom of God; God Bless!

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this (& Stephen Court for pointing it out on Twitter). As an occasional but enthusiastic preacher I find it really useful.
    Looking back I find some of the sermons that have produced the best response have actually had one big idea or thought.

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