Keeping Sermons Fresh

 |  December 11, 2019

A pastor and congregation spend hundreds of hours together in the sermon experience over multiple years. Most of us preachers have a particular delivery style that we typically use. Your familiar style can be very comfortable for the congregation because they know what to expect. However, it can also become so comfortable that it leads to parishioners “zoning out” in the middle of a sermon. Occasionally, it might be a good idea to change your delivery, which is almost sure to increase interest. Your regular hearers’ ears will “perk up” because they see something happening that is different from what they were expecting.

Is it okay to use different methodologies? Yes! We know this because the biblical authors used a variety of methods to communicate their message. Jeremiah utilized enacted parables. Jesus told parables, asked questions, used hyperbole, engaged in dialogues, used analogies, and many more methods. So we have biblical authorization to utilize different styles in communicating God’s changeless message. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (NASB).

Here are just a few alternative delivery styles you might try to “spruce up” your sermons from time to time:

The power of our messages is not in methodology but in the unction of the Holy Spirit. However, we who proclaim the gospel must do our best to reach our listeners with the message. The Scripture often speaks of “exhorting” (parekalei) listeners, and Paul preached to “persuade” (peithomen) his hearers (2 Cor 5:11–12). We should do no less. Sometimes a change in style may help someone sit up and listen to the words of the message, and the Holy Spirit can touch their lives.

Steve Lemke is Vice President for Institutional Assessment, Provost Emeritus, and Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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