Preaching to the Whole Choir

Consider what different segments of the church need to hear.

I'm no expert in preaching, neither in its theory nor in the actual doing of it. But one thing I've learned is that there are different kinds of people in the congregation who need to hear different sorts of things. Obviously, no sermon can be all things to all people. We must stick with the theme presented in the text. We must preach withing our own personalities. Most of all, we must trust the Spirit to preach a better sermon to each heart than the one we deliver.

But still, there's wisdom in considering what different segments of the church may need to hear. The Puritans were masters at this, often dissecting the congregation into different categories and applying the word accordingly. Early in my ministry I developed a fourfold schema that has served me well. In every sermon I try to remember that I'm preaching to the weary, the wandering, the lazy, and the lost. You may have different categories, but I find these four helpful for keeping my sermons fresh, relevant, and not too lopsided ...

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