Friday, June 8, 2007

How to Preach so People Listen?

Sermons on the brain. The past week I have been working on different messages,and that can be a grueling process. Most people probably think that preachers just stand up on a stage and move their lips. But there are actually tons of ways to preach: expository, topical,textual, deductive,inductive, and 'wingin' it'-to name a few. When trying to go about crafting a sermon I ran across a passage that gave me great encouragement and inspiration.

"Jesus ALWAYS used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he NEVER spoke to them without using such parables."
Matthew 13:34 NLT

Many argue that expository is the only right way to go, but that method often makes my mind drift. I believe interpretation and depth are key, but they must be told in a way that make people want to listen. I was listening online to an Iraqi missionary named Carl Medearis the other day. His stories were powerful and inspiring in his sermons. He spoke in a way that held my attention the ENTIRE TIME, then on a different sermon he said that he had gotten accused of preaching the "easy way" by telling stories. So he went on to preach a sermon w/o his inspiring stories. I probably was only able to listen to about 1/4 of that message.

My first goal in preaching is not to change lives. My first goal is to try and speak in such a way that people listen. Because very seldom will they be changed if they don't know what I just spoke about. I am totally sold on the INDUCTIVE preaching style. It is very backwards to what is commonly heard today. It is more written like a movie with cliff hangers then like a "intro,1,2,3,conclusion" type of message. I am by far no expert on preaching- I haven't even had homiletics- but I personally think that inductive preaching is worth checking out when speaking to mixed crowds.

Here are some ideas to keep people listening:
1. Buy a book on screen writing rather than preaching
2. Buy this book on Inductive Preaching
3. Labor hard at crafting your best stories in an ear grabbing way.
4. Dramatize your stories, but don't exaggerate them.
5. Watch your favorite TV show and watch what they do to keep your mind involved (especially right before a commercial)
6. Dissect how Jesus spoke to people. Every time you find a new concept bullet point it somewhere.
7. Watch The Lot and take notes on what you can apply to your preaching
8. Don't write a conclusion, instead leave people confused, so that they can't help but discuss your sermon over the lunch table
9. Constantly ask yourself what outside object, video, person,etc...you can use
10. Keep in mind that the average attention span is 6-8 minutes. More here
11. Remember that this is what people remember:Read 10% - Heard 20% - Seen 30% - Heard and Seen 50% - Said 70% - Said and Done 90%
12. Say something that doesn't seem accurate until the major "aha" moment later in the sermon
13. Weave key phrases, scriptures, or personal quotes throughout your sermon- if they forget all else they will hopefully remember what you weaved.
14. Do the unthinkable...manuscript an inductive sermon to help you creatively think through your thoughts, points, scriptures, and transitions. Once your done it should be somewhat stuck in your head.
15. Remember if your bored, their bored. If it stirs your soul, it will stir their soul.
*16. Of course, there are times that the Holy Spirit will lead you in a direction that will mean scrapping all of the above ideas. In that case forget everything you just read and go with Him.