For Improvement Just Do This

It is easy to feel pressure to preach better. We put the pressure on ourselves. Others put the pressure on us, often unwittingly. Perhaps a lack of apparent response in recent months. Perhaps comments about other preachers. Perhaps the big shots on the radio. Perhaps a renewed passion to preach well that has stirred within.

When the pressure to improve is felt, things can often seem overwhelming. After all, there are so many books, so many ideas, so many aspects of effective preaching to consider, indeed, so many preaching traditions to learn from. Maybe you skim through previous posts on this site, or other sites, or magazines, or podcasts, etc. Perhaps you let your mind go back to seminary and you recall all the instructions you received there. It can all be so overwhelming.

This may sound overly simplistic, but just do this: prayerfully endeavor to do the basics well. Try to study the passage effectively so that you are clear on the structure, the author’s main idea and purpose in writing. Try to think through your sermon purpose in light of both the passage and the congregation. Try to determine a clear main idea (doesn’t have to be an all-time great one), a clear and simple structure, a way to start that will make listeners want to hear the rest of the sermon and a way to finish so that the impact of the text will be felt in a specific area of their life. Do the basics well. You’ll probably find the pressure lifts because your preaching is much closer to what you want it to be!

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5 thoughts on “For Improvement Just Do This

  1. Thanks, Peter. As a pastor of 17 years and aspiring Ph.D. in homiletics, you could really give no better advice. Choose a text, exegete it well, choose ONE point, include ONE overarching image, identify ONE human need you’re trying to address, work on your beginning and ending. My God, who can do three points well and thoroughly in 15-20 minutes?

  2. Thanks very much!

    I always like to add…’then slay them with the law and raise them with the gospel.”

    – Steve Martin

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