My stories must illustrate. I must avoid trying to make myself look too good or too wise. The rule to follow: An illustration should illustrate the truth, not elevate the speaker.
Gone are the days when preaching meant an aloof, authoritarian lecture. An impersonal preacher, these days, is almost a contradiction in terms. People today have come to expect personal preaching—vulnerability and self-revelation.
When people comment on my sermons, they rarely mention the sermon's logic, structure, or persuasiveness—even though I try to include each of those elements. More typical is the comment: "I appreciated the message, but what I appreciated most was your vulnerability. You really got through to me. You let us see you."
Today's audiences expect the preacher to be personal and winsome. This means not only speaking to the personal needs of people, but also using illustrations out of the preacher's life experience. This is what many people listen for and a gauge by which they ...1