Jimmy Jackson almost made it to baseball's big leagues. Pitching coaches routinely clocked his fastball in the mid nineties. Yep, you could always count on Jimmy's fastball.

Of course that was Jimmy's downfall too: he only threw fastballs. No curveballs, sliders, or change-ups—just blistering fastballs in roughly the same place: belt-high and smack down the middle. So after awhile every batter knew what was coming. There's a good chance he could have made the Twins' starting lineup—if he could have had at least one more pitch.

If you're a real Twins fan, you probably know that Jimmy never existed. I made up his story to illustrate a point: Just as pro baseball players get stuck in pitching ruts, pastors can get stuck in preaching ruts. One-pitch pastors usually have one good pitch, but as in Jimmy's case, that might also be their weakness. One-pitch preachers get dull. Worse they sometimes fail to preach "the whole counsel of God."

So how do you escape this rut?

Assess your style

Begin by reviewing your sermon history and preaching tendencies. What is your favorite (or perhaps your only) approach to preaching? Do you tend to be primarily doctrinal, confrontational, an explainer, pastoral, how-to, inductive in structure, deductive in structure? Do you always use three parallel points? Do you gravitate to the same passages?

Ask your people for direct and honest feedback. If that's too daunting, just ask them about how they experience your preaching. For example, about midway through my nine-year pastorate on Long Island, I started asking a few key people (and not just my biggest fans) the following questions: How would you describe my preaching in a couple sentences? What do ...