Patterns are good. Ruts are bad.
Patterns give us structure. Ruts keep us stuck.
Everyone who speaks in public develops speaking patterns. The danger is to not let those patterns become ruts.
That’s why I purposely change the way I preach every few years.
People Hear Differently Now
If you can find a tape of me preaching 30 years ago, it would sound very different from the way I preach today. (First of all, it’s on tape). Or 20. Even 10.
That is intentional.
People don’t communicate today like they did just a few years ago. I speak differently now because people listen differently now.
And with the advent of computers, smart phones, tablets, Netflix and the like, the pace of change is getting even faster.
The message of the gospel matters so much that we need to communicate it in the best possible way for those listening.
What about Preachers?
Most of us haven’t changed our preaching method since we started.
The message hasn’t changed in 2,000 years. And it shouldn’t. In fact, the more my methods have changed, the more firmly I’ve hung on to the core truths in God’s Word. But the manner in which we communicate it must change.
Here are five major adjustments I’ve made to the way I preach in the 23 years I’ve served my current church:
1. I Dropped Alliterations and Rhymes (circa 1996)
In a recent post, I listed 5 Reasons to Stop Making Your Sermon Notes Rhyme. So I won’t go over that ground again.
Since writing it, I’ve been asked, ‘If not alliterations and rhymes, how do you organize your main points?’
Here’s an example. On a recent Sunday I spoke on The Power of the First Follower, from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Here are my six key points:
- The First Follower shows others who to follow (“…Jesus Christ and him crucified.”)
- The First Follower shows others how to follow (“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Christ...”)
- First Followers do not need special skills (“I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom.”)
- First Followers need courage and obedience (“I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.”)
- The First Follower must be willing to look foolish (“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words...”)
- Even Jesus was a follower, first (“I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” – John 8:28)