Some that I preach. Some that others preach. The sermon is moving along well, perhaps moving at a decent pace through a text, engaging and interesting, then suddenly, the sermon seems to go into thick mud. Suddenly the momentum is lost and the experience for preacher and listener alike changes significantly.
Why does this happen? The message is following the standard guidelines for sermons. The text is being explained, the relevance is being emphasized, illustrative material is helping listeners see the message clearly, etc. But momentum drains away and progress becomes elusive and there is a struggle on for the next ten to fifteen minutes as the sermon simply seems to stand still.
I was observing this recently from the listener’s side. It seemed that at a certain point in the journey through the message, the momentum stopped and we felt like we were spinning our wheels. Restatement. Repetition. Illustration. Repetition. Illustration. But no progress.
Have you experienced this phenomena? What would you suggest to avoid it happening? I’d suggest we look at the outline or manuscript and prayerfully evaluate it for progress and momentum, as well as for content and clarity. While a third illustration under the same point may compound the clarity, it might also feel like an anchor keeping the sermon from arriving at its destination.
I’d also suggest prayerfully preaching through a sermon to experience it through your own ears. Sometimes sermons look perfect on paper, but in reality simply don’t “come out well.”
One more suggestion – when it happens, take the time to evaluate why it happened and try to learn from you (or someone else’s) mistake. The tendency is to flee the scene of what feels like a sermonic flop, but perhaps there is more to learn there than when a sermon’s momentum was faultless.
How do you make sure your message keeps moving?