Some folks judge the effectiveness of their sermons by how many people are shouting or running down the isle.
Now, there should be an emotional response to our sermons, but if your people only remember they were happy and don’t remember what they were happy about then there is a great issue.
I remember a preacher telling me he was walking the halls during one of the popular preaching conferences and there were preachers practicing whooping. They were whooping “Mary had a little lamb.”
I am sure it sounds good, but your people deserve better than that. Somebody said that your content makes its own gravy, and I agree completely.
It has happened to all of us.
We get into the pulpit with a little more confidence than we aught to have and begin to preach.
We stand up like we always do and we begin to preach. However, the people don’t respond. Nobody appears to be hearing a thing we have prepared.
In non-technical terms we layed an egg or as some say, we went to flunkersville.
Most of us have been there. It is not a good feeling, however today I want to talk to you about the benefits and blessings of flunkersville.
Medical Doctor Phillip Mills writes about the infatuation many have with some popular church growth approaches. Certainly we can question whether it is God’s intention that every church turn into a Mega Church, which I sincerely doubt. But what Mills does is question whether we are worrying about the quality of growth as much as the quantity of growth.
Some have talked about this when speaking about the retention rates or the spiritual growth of those who join. It is problematic when we equate success to putting church hoppers in seats while the total number of members of the Kingdom remains the same in the city. We simply shuffle the church folk from one church to the new church with the big choir and the great preacher. Mills addresses these issues in a helpful way from a physician’s point of view.
My biggest concern as it relates to my preaching style is how can I open up the truth(s) of the scripture all the while keeping it current and up to date… Any way you can assist me there will be great…
I just received your very good question that really zeros in on the question of
“relevance.” I would suggest that you first of all see “application” as a part of the exegetical process. We are about to have a free web seminar on exegesis in the middle of May. However, I do have a few important things to keep in mind to help you with “relevance.”
First, take a stroll through the text. By that I mean get into the text you are
exegeting. Look around from inside the text. Smell the smells, see the sights, feel the textures. You want to really experience the text. So if you are preaching on the Prodigal Son, you should feel the excitement of the young man as he is headed towards the big city. You should see the road moving from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. When you end up in the pit, you should smell the pigs. You should taste the slop. You should be in the story. When you experience the story with all of your senses, you will preach the story in a much more empathetic and relevant way.
Another very helpful tip is to think about 3-4 issues at various times of the sermon preparation task. Let us say that Mother Lois’ daughter died after a protracted battle with diabetes. Think about that. Let us Assume that Associate Minister Jones’ brother was thrown in jail again for drug abuse. And finally, let us assume that there is a young lady battling with the requirements for sexual purity.
Now as you are exegeting the text, think about those issues. What does your text have to say if anything top Mother Lois? What does it say to Pastor Jones? Is there strength to help the young lady? You need to ask that at the exegetical process. Now when you are moving to constructing the sermon, think about those people. Do you address their concerns? Can they get anything out of the sermon? Then when you craft your celebration, do the same thing.
If you keep concrete issues in your mind as you go through the steps of exegesis, you will address concrete things. And paradoxically, when you do that, you will also address more than these situations. For when you speak to the young lady, you will help anyone who is fighting trying to stay true to Jesus in this world. When you talk to Mother Lois’ issue, you will be talking to anyone who has lost someone to an untimely death. When you speak to Minister Jones’ issue, you will be talking to anyone who is hurting because of faulty decisions by friends or family.
The key is to take the lofty truth and put it on the ground…And you do that by thinking of concrete issues.
God Bless and I hope that Helps…Do not hesitate to continue your questions if I was not clear in this presentation…
Sherman Haywood Cox II