My good friend, Lane Sebring has released a brand new book on preaching and I am stoked for pastors to be able to benefit from it.
Lane is the founder of PreachingDonkey.com and the author of Preaching Killer Sermons and, his new book, Become a Preaching Ninja.
In my opinion, if you want to take your preaching to the next level, Become a Preaching Ninja is the tool you need. Lane has put together a powerful guide for preachers of all experience levels. I have no doubt that if you put into practice what he teaches, your preaching will improve exponentially.
I am excited to bring you this interview between Lane and me as we talk about his new book and what you can expect from it in his own words.
An Interview With Lane Sebring, Author of Become a Preaching Ninja
Lane, I’m excited for pastors to get and benefit from your new book, Become a Preaching Ninja. What was your heart in writing it?
I wrote Become a Preaching Ninja out of a desire to see pastors preaching at their highest capacity and making the largest impact they can. I wanted to put a tool in the hands of preachers that gives them a step-by-step, simplified process for not just writing and delivering effective sermons, but setting themselves on a journey to continually improve their craft as a preacher.
In the book, you talk about destructive preaching mindsets and how to overcome them. When you look at your own preaching, what would you say has been your biggest destructive preaching mindset?
When I first started preaching I definitely felt inadequate as a preacher. I would listen to preachers who I admired and I thought, “Why would anyone listen to me when they could listen to that guy?” This led me early on to copy other people’s sermons which I discussed in my first book, Preaching Killer Sermons. I no longer copy other’s sermons, but I had to overcome the destructive mindset that I had nothing to give, that these people deserve better, and choose to let God speak through me. This requires faith and a plan.
I start with mindsets in the book because I know how destructive a bad mindset can be and I want to see preachers move past destructive mindsets and begin to see God use them – even in their weaknesses.
What would you say is the biggest hindrance to pastors getting more effective in their preparation?
In the busyness of a given week, sermon prep becomes a task to check off a list rather than the spiritual, meaningful endeavor it is. So I think time is a hindrance, but if we go one level deeper this hindrance really comes as a result of not working on ourselves as communicators and preachers. We get stuck writing and delivering the sermon but never really spend the time needed making ourselves better at what we do. The book will set preachers on a path to working on themselves and their preaching craft.
In your experience, what is the biggest mistake we make in sermon delivery?
By far the biggest mistake we make is assuming too much. We assume people are paying attention, that they are understanding what we’re saying, that they care and that it’s making a difference. We need to strive for these results but we should be careful not to assume them. We must do the work in our delivery to appeal to people’s interest, create and build tension, and do the necessary work it takes to spur people toward life-change.
I think every preacher wants to create those lean-in moments where everyone is dialed into what you’re saying. How are those moments created?
I have a chapter in the book about creating moments in sermons because I believe this is a largely underutilized tool. In the book I show how to create moments when you tell a story, give an illustration, or make a point. When creating a moment you want to imagine that you are setting the table for someone who is about to sit down and enjoy a meal. You don’t just want to throw food on the table and say, “Eat up!” Rather, you’re going to think through the details of the plates, silverware, glassware, napkins, etc. You want your guest to be ready to receive the meal. The same is true in preaching, don’t just tell a story – bring them into the experience of the story. Make them feel what you felt when you lived through it. Don’t just give an illustration – make the point inescapable.
You talk a lot about storytelling and humor in Become a Preaching Ninja. Why are these two things so important for us to master?
I’ve studied communication for years. I have a degree in it and have helped thousands of pastors master their communication. I’ve spoken and preached hundreds of times. After all that, I’m convinced there are two secret weapons to masterful communication: storytelling and humor. In fact, you can break a lot of “rules” of communication if you can tell a gripping story that draws people in and you know how to make people genuinely laugh. Why is this the case? I talk a lot about why in the book but in short, the connection that is made between the speaker and listener in both stories and humor is extremely strong for a variety of reasons. Suffice it to say, every preacher can develop these skills and I’m convinced every preacher should.
If there was just one thing someone took from this book and applied to their preaching, what do you hope that one thing is?
The one thing preachers will get from this book is a simple, step-by-step plan for how to continually improve their preaching craft well into the future.
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