3. I want to hear a sermon you didn’t find online
When I hear someone preach, I only want one degree of separation between the Bible and me.
That doesn’t mean preachers can’t learn from each other, use their denomination’s preaching calendar, or other tools. But taking someone else’s sermon and passing it off as your own is lazy. And it’s theft. Anywhere outside the church, it’s called plagiarism. But pastors joke about it. It’s not funny. Our standards should be higher, not lower.
Plus, if you found your sermon online, so can I. And if I can find it online, why am I coming to your church?
4. I want to hear about the preacher’s struggles as well as their certainties
I don’t like being yelled at by someone who acts like they’re better than me. They might be better than me. A lot of people are. But the fact that you think you’re better than me means you’re probably not.
We need more humility in the pulpit. A humility that tells me, “God and the Bible are always right, but I’m not.”
5. I want you to speak from your heart and your head
Preparation, study and research are essential elements in the pastor’s toolkit.
So are prayer, passion and experience.
Most pastors are stronger on one than the other. But all preachers need to bring elements of both every time they preach.
6. I want to hear from a pastor who knows and loves their congregation
I’ve been inspired many times by preachers speaking to massive, faceless crowds.
But when a pastor is speaking to a congregation that they’re serving, that they know, that they love, it shows. And it makes the message matter that much more.
When I preach, I know some deep things about a large percentage of the people I’m preaching to. Some deep, wonderful things and some deep, dark things. I don’t ever exploit what I know, but the fact that I know it makes a difference to how they hear the message.
As a church gets bigger, that personal touch gets lost. That’s not a slam on big churches, it’s just the way it is. And, for many people, the personal touch isn’t needed for them to get everything they need from the church service.
But for a lot of people, the relationship matters. I’m one of those people. And one of those pastors.