In part four of our interview with Andy Stanley he shares his thoughts on the "hard work" of preaching and improvement - including the painful process of personal review and evaluation. In case you missed them, here are parts one, two, and three. Be sure to get a copy of Andy's book, Communicating for a Change.
Question: Andy, you make preaching look so easy. How hard do you work at being an effective communicator?
Andy: I listen to my own CD's all the time. In fact, on some Sundays I listen to all three services. And I want to get better and better, and I work on getting better. I listen for dumb habits that I have. I sometimes watch my own videos, which is horrible. That will either make you better or want to get out of ministry completely. I think I make it look easy, but it's not. I work very, very hard.
And every sermon I think, "What if this is it? What if this is the last time I preach?" And I psych myself up with that thought every single week. I want it to be the best sermon that has ever been preached by anyone anywhere. That is an unattainable goal and nobody cares. No one is giving out awards for that. But I just feel that all these people that got up and fought traffic and they got their kids here and they found a seat...I need to give them something that makes it worth all that. Why anyone would want to come to our 10:30 a.m. service? You must be starving. People are going to go through all that, and they are going to bring unchurched friends. They need to go home with something, just one simple thing. And I don't think I am successful every single time, but it is the goal every single time.
I ask our communicators all the time, "What is the one thing they've got to know? They may have three pages of notes, but what is the one sentence, idea, or phrase they have got to know? That's the thing. That's the take-away." So preaching with that kind of burden, bringing that kind of burden to the communication process is huge.
What do you do to continue to refine and improve your preaching?