Preacher, Don’t Do These Things! 3 Ingredients of a FORGETTABLE Sermon

Preacher, Don't Do These Things! 3 Ingredients of a FORGETTABLE Sermon

Preaching is difficult. But sometimes us preachers make it even harder.

We let ourselves linger in ruts of bad habits.

We stop challenging ourselves to learn and grow.

We get overwhelmed by all of what ministry is and our preaching slowly fades.

Sometimes, all we need is for someone to show us that what we’re doing isn’t ideal and offer us a different path forward.

That’s what I hope to do for you. Like Gordon Ramsey tasting your 3-ingredient meal, I’d like to warn you in anticipation of your next sermon: don’t use these 3 ingredients. They lead to a forgettable sermon.

1. Start slow. Really slow.

If your goal is for people to have their next week planned out by the time you say amen at the end, then by all means, grab this ingredient out of the pantry.

But if you want people to dial in with you and hear what God desires to speak through you, help the hearer out by starting with energy and purpose.

In the first 5 minutes of a sermon, people are going to see if you know where you’re going.

When you start slow, you communicate that this sermon has no urgency. And when a sermon lacks urgency, it lacks relevancy.

Starting slow could include doing things like:

  • Greeting people for longer than 5ish seconds
  • Telling people how excited you are for what you are going to say
  • Make some announcements
  • Tell people what you’re going to say before you say it
  • Apologize for a lack of preparation
  • Tell a joke that is irrelevant to the sermon (just because you thought it was funny)

When a sermon lacks urgency, it lacks relevancy.

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2. Read the Bible as monotone as possible.

If you want to communicate that the Bible is simply an add-on to what you want to say, then don’t miss out on getting this out of the fridge to include in your sermonic meal.

But if you want people to see Scripture and the truth it communicates as the main event and the center that every word you speak revolves around, then read the Bible with energy and passion.

Many people have a hard enough time reading the Bible as it is. When you read the Bible passage you’re preaching on with no energy, no passion, no variance in your voice, no drama, no volume change, you’re only communicating that this is merely a book you’re reading.

But if Scripture is more than that, which it obviously is, read it with intentionality.

Help people hear the love of God that is laced through every word.

Help people feel the grace of God that is on display in every part of the story God has written in history.

By communicating well, you’re helping your hearer connect to God’s word. Help them.

By communicating well, you’re helping your hearer connect to God’s word. Help them.

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3. Generalize the connection between the biblical passage and the hearer’s life.

If you really want to complete this meal with the ingredient that will do the most in making it forgettable (and irrelevant), then you can’t miss this one.

You know what keeps most people from growing in their faith? A general faith.

Because generalities always have easy exceptions.

They’re bland enough that they lack relevance for Monday morning when that difficult co-worker is pushing your buttons again.

Connecting Scripture to life – the nitty-gritty details – is one of the most pastoral things we can do for our people.

Help them see what faithfulness looks like in their stage of life.

Help them see what faithfulness looks like through a powerful illustration.

Give them a list of examples so they have a connection point to hold onto.

Ask them a poignant question and give them some possible answers after you let them sit with the question for enough time that they start to squirm a little.

Sermons become powerful when they zoom into the realm of specificity.

Connecting Scripture to life – the nitty-gritty details – is one of the most pastoral things we can do for our people.

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A better way

The better way? Preach to the heart. It takes more effort. But it’s worth it.

What would you add?

What ingredients of a FORGETTABLE sermon did I miss? Let me know in the comments below, send a tweet, or join our private Facebook group for pastors.

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Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Lead Pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton, IN. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.

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