Today in the news there is a story of a man who got frustrated trying to loosen the wheel-nut on his car and decided to try blasting it from close range with a shotgun. The ricochet of buckshot and debris peppered him from ankle to abdomen.
While not wanting to make light of his severe injuries, I would like to draw an analogy for our thinking as preachers. Use as much force as necessary to achieve each goal in a sermon, but don’t exert excessive force that will backfire on you. Here are some examples of backfiring preaching techniques:
* Overstating the introduction. Don’t promise to solve all the problems of the world in your introduction if your message only addresses some of the problems. If the goal is modest, then strive to create a thirst for the message, but a thirst that will be quenched. It is easy to take onboard the importance of surfacing a need and then over-promise. It will backfire.
* Overbearing illustrations. Perhaps you come across a moving story, or have a powerful experience that fits with your message. Be careful it is not too powerful or you might overwhelm the message. Illustrations and stories should drive the idea forward, not overtake it. Even if it happened to you, even if it is all true, even if it agrees with the text . . . if it is too strong it may backfire.
* Over-the-top word choice. Sometimes shocking a congregation can be effective, but you must plan carefully. Just because Tony Campolo once swore at a congregation does not mean we should all try it. For effect or shock value or even for a laugh, it is tempting to go too far. Don’t. It will backfire.
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