5. “How will I say it?” [The Method]
Be practical. If the goal of preaching is changed lives, then application is the primary task of preaching! Knowledge doesn’t change the world, but action does (Luke 10:37. James 1:22). Interpretation of the Bible (what it means) is not enough. We must bring people to application (what they are to do). Exhortation without application leads to frustration. Jesus came to give life, not just information.
Always aim for a specific action (Matthew 28:20). Tell them why – explain the benefits. Show them how. We need far less “ought to” preaching and far more “how to” preaching. “Yes, but how?” People are looking for practical answers. We need clearer application not just deeper interpretation. Don’t be a commentator (content focus). Be a communicator (application focus). Changed lives are the goal, not just explained content.
A “lecturer” speaks about the Bible, is concerned about the facts (literary analysis), and seeks to inform. A “pastoral preacher” speaks from the Bible about the congregation, tells them what God wants from them, and is concerned about people. Life-changing preaching does not talk to the people about the Bible. Instead, it talks to the people about themselves - their questions, hurts, fears and struggles - from the Bible. Preach to people about their lives. Don't just lecture about a topic.
Finally, be creative. Make the message interesting (Proverbs 15:2. Ecclesiastes 12:10). Saying, “We’re not here to entertain”, sounds spiritual. Our message is too important to present it in a boring manner. “Entertainment” is simply capturing and holding the attention of an extended period of time. We are communicators of the greatest message in the world. It is a sin to bore people with the Bible. People will think that God is boring.
Never make a point without a picture. Have an illustration for every exhortation. A picture or story is better than a definition. A point gets to the head. A story gets to the heart. Use visuals, drama, or role-playing. We live in a visual generation. Get people involved. Use humour. Be interesting, appealing and delightful. Humour relaxes people, it lowers defences, and it creates positive emotion. It’s not a sin to help people feel good.
Learn from others. No one can be brilliant every week. God has called us to be effective, not just original. Listen to good communicators and learn from them. Keep fresh. Ask for feedback.
We must faithfully preach God's Word by motivating and enabling people to change. There are few things more satisfying in life than knowing you have influenced others in a positive way by helping them reach their potential in God. Yes, you can do it. Preach to change lives!
P.S. For a list of books and resources on the art of preaching, see my list of best preaching books, many of which have been very helpful in my own growth as a speaker and from which I have gleaned many of the insights shared in these blog posts. Also, check out the preaching category on this blog for more tips and thoughts on the topic of preaching.