I listen to a lot of sermons. Preaching is my primary job, and I'd like to be better at it. Lately I've noticed a stark contrast between what most of us are doing and what the great ones are doing. We are preaching; they are communicating.
We are delivering sermons that would definitely get an A back in seminary. Two quotes from Bible commentators, one from a big-time theologian and even something from a great philosopher or novelist. Oh yeah!
We stretch our vocab to impress, using words like "perennial" and "dialectical." We even wax poetic with words like "midst" and "furthermore." We use words we would never text, or email, or say to a friend. We are writing sermons.
Folks, we seem to care more about what we are delivering than what people are carrying away. We must be better preachers. Who are we writing these sermons for? Growing churches are lead not by sermon writers, but by strong communicators.
Stop writing sermons, start communicating with people. Care more what people carry into Monday than what we deliver on Sunday. One transforming phrase remembered on Tuesday beats a dozen flowery phrases forgotten by Sunday night.
A few years ago I resolved to preach like I talk and care more about what gets received than what gets delivered. I started simplifying my language. I started coming up with "sticky statements." I started, as Andy Stanley says, communicating for a change.
At First Pres we started a monthly creative collaboration meeting. The goal is to get all of us communicating the big idea the best and most effective way possible for our people to remember on Monday. Everybody gets involved. It includes music, environment, message, kids, youth, social media...everybody we can think. But the big takeaway is the big takeaway! We always ask: How about "portability"? Can we think of one way the message gets carried into the week by our people? We have had a hashtag social media campaign, a card to carry away and "measure the health of your soul"--anything to make Sunday stick into Monday.
This simple question has produced incredible results. People respond when they see you trying to bring the teaching into their week. Plus it increases the fun factor.
We must be better preachers. We need to care more about how much the message changes hearts than how much is impresses the voices in our head. We must communicate--that means caring what the hearer receives and carries away. The goal is transformation.
Stop preaching and start communicating. Your church will be glad you did!