Very few preachers are incoherent. Yet many preachers are incoherent. Before you accuse me of being incoherent, let me explain. The other day I sat through a sermon from a visiting speaker. I may be my own worst critic, but I try to be gracious to others. Sorry. On this occasion I failed. Why did I have such a hard time with the message? Because it did not cohere.
The man was coherent. No reason to believe otherwise. Every sentence made sense. Every word fit in its context. Yet at a higher level the message was incoherent. It didn’t stick together. The pieces may have made sense as distinct units. But the reason for joining them together was unclear. At a level higher than words or sentences, the message lacked unity. All the parts of a message must be coordinated to form a single, unified whole. Without this careful and deliberate cohesion, at a macro level the message is incoherent.
The need for unity in a message is not a new idea. It’s been a big idea since long before big idea preaching was defined. But just because unity, or coherence, is a long established need in speech formulation, this doesn’t mean that we automatically achieve it. It takes work to make a message cohere. It takes hard work to avoid being incoherent!