If I could only give one piece of advice to seasoned pastors to help make our Sunday messages more effective for how people live and listen today, it would be this.
Stop making your sermon notes rhyme.
(If you want more than one idea, check out Why You Need to Change How You Preach (And 5 Changes I've Made) by clicking here.)
Rhymes and alliterations used to make speakers seem credible, authoritative and prepared. That's no longer the case.
Recently, I was doing a session with pastors on how to preach better sermons for today's congregations. When I advised them to stop making their sermon notes rhyme, something in the room shifted.
The older pastors recoiled in horror at the idea. But the younger pastors became like bobble-heads nodding up and down. So I paused to point out the difference.
“Am I right on this one?” I asked the young leaders. Their nodding increased. So I went on, supported by my bobble-head choir of young leaders, to explain why it no longer make my sermon notes rhyme or alliterate.
1. We No Longer Need It as a Memory Device
If people want to remember what we said, they’ll check the handout notes, or listen to the podcast, or email us, or record the message on their phone, or… You get the idea.
People don’t even have their best friend’s phone number memorized any more. They’re not trying to remember the points of our sermon.
2. People Don't Care About What the Pastor Cares About
I hate to break it to you, but the time pastors spend trying to make every point start with the same letter is wasted. We’re the only ones who care.
3. People Prefer One Practical Idea Over Five Points That Rhyme
No one leaves church with our acronym ringing in their ears. If we give them one helpful principle, they’ll latch on to it. And if it’s applicable, they may even do it.
4. Rhyming Feels Phony
This may be the biggest reason of all to give up rhymes and alliterations. It was the one that really got the young bobble-heads going. Real life doesn’t rhyme.
The younger generation has given up on finding easy answers. Some have given up on finding any answers at all. But even for those who are open to what the Bible has to say, they know that real answers don't all start with the same letter, or spell out F.A.I.T.H.
Pastors think it’s clever. Listeners think it’s fake.
5. Rhyming Feels Old and Stale
Old is not always bad. It can often provide us with much-needed stability.
But there's the kind of old that's just stale.
Rhyming and alliterating used to feel authoritative and prepared. Now it feels phony and stale.
It may come back again some day. If so, I'll do it again.
Whatever gets the message across.
Real Life Doesn’t Rhyme
Instead of playing linguistic games, here’s an idea. Let’s produce better content.
Then let’s put it in a format that matches the way people really listen, talk and live. I'll write more about some format ideas, soon.
But for now, whatever format you use, speak genuinely. From God's Word and your heart. To people's real lives.
Real life doesn’t rhyme.
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