I think we can agree that in our current culture, you and I are inundated with information. Communication is constant, cluttered, and consuming. This poses a significant challenge for those of us who preach. How do we craft sermons in such a way that they cut through the noise?
Here are five suggestions:
1. Proclaim the authority of God’s Word and nothing else.
In Isaiah 55:10-11, God Himself promises us that His Word never returns void. Think about that! If you’ve preached God’s Word faithfully, you can rest knowing it has accomplished exactly what God wants. That promise doesn’t extend to our creativity, clever thoughts, or compelling illustrations. I’m NOT saying don’t incorporate those things into your sermon. I AM saying far too much of what we call “preaching” is light on the one thing we know contains power: the Word of God.
2. Prepare your guts out and don’t wing it.
The fact that God’s Word won’t return void shouldn’t make us prepare less, but more. We need to be sure we get it right. We need to explain, illustrate, and apply God’s Word with surgical precision. Our culture kills itself to prepare its sermons; should we prepare any less? We have the truth. We labor for eternity. The One we preach is worthy of our best. So, no winging it. Pray yourself hot, press deep into the text, and prepare the best sermon you can every time you’re blessed to preach.
3. Present the problem and preach the solution.
Every sermon should be the solution to a specific problem. I’ll give you a hint: the problem is always some manifestation of sin. It may be an issue of disbelief, an ungodly attitude, or a behavior that is contrary to God’s revealed will. Regardless, we focus the truth we proclaim when we identify the problem we’re addressing. Ears perk up when people realize God’s Word holds out hope for something that is causing them pain.
4. Push on real issues and don’t stick to what’s safe.
The message of the Bible is beautiful, but it’s not pretty. One of the great things about God’s Word is the authentic way in which it speaks about life. It confronts our sin and calls us to repent. Sexuality, relationships, speech, money, politics…there is no subject God is afraid to force us to face. If we’re going to be faithful to the text, we have to say what it says. We can’t pull any punch or ignore any issue. If God has something to say about it, so must we.
5. Preach to your actual audience and use their language.
Too much preaching is done in language that is either over the heads or beneath the intelligence of its listeners. Some sermons have so many Greek words or Christian cliches, the message is lost on the average listener. Other times we preach like our congregations are stupid and can’t handle the full weight of what the text says. No preacher would step into another country and ignore the language of that country. You’d either learn it or have it interpreted so the audience can understand. But are we doing this work in the context God has placed us in? Know the audience and talk to them.
Our message is too important for it to get lost in the noise. Let’s give our all to insure we’re preaching the right thing the right way.