The preaching of a Bible text should make an impact, its point should hit home. Yet as preachers there are times when we inadvertently dissipate the impact as we preach. Here are eight ways we sometimes provoke a dissipation situation:
1. By unnecessary multiple cross-references
There may be a need for taking listeners to other Bible passages, but often there is not. If it isn’t really helpful, then piling on references and quotes will only dissipate the impact of this particular text. Don’t steal time from this passage for only a passing reference to something else.
2. By only slightly connected examples
It is tempting to use related examples that may not be specifically related to what the passage is saying. So if the passage is speaking of gratitude toward God for salvation, this may or may not be an ideal moment to tell the “thank you” story you have from your encounter with the child next door, or whatever. Sometimes we see a term and jump to an example that is not really relevant to the specific nature of this text.
3. By unnecessary illustrations
It is tempting to think that we have to add interest to the Bible. Wrong motivation. The Bible is interesting and relevant, our task is to help people see how that is true. If an illustration of some kind will be helpful for explaining, or proving, or applying the passage, then use it. But piling on illustrations is not helpful as it can significantly dissipate the impact of the text itself.
4. By overpowering illustrations
Sometimes a story or image is simply overwhelming. It is powerful, it is effective, it is memorable, but perhaps it is better left out. Is your goal really to have people go away remembering the moving story of the little orphan boy and the sporting achievement, or the message of the passage? If it is too much, leave it out.
We’ll finish the list tomorrow, but please add any that come to mind…