21. Select the take home goal – Is your goal for people to remember the outline? Why? Better to aim at them taking home the main idea with a heart already responsive to it, rather than a commentary outline of a passage. Let’s not flatter ourselves – people don’t need hooks to hang thoughts on, they need a thought to hang on to. Better, they need to leave with a changed heart. If they are changed by an encounter with God in His Word, then looking at the text should bring a sense of the structure back to mind. However, remembering the outline on its own has very limited value (unless they’re taking a Bible school exam that week).
22. Pre-preach the message – Don’t rely on written preparation. Most things make sense on paper. It is important to preach through a message before preaching a message. Better to discover that it simply doesn’t flow, or a particular transition is actually a roadblock, when you can still fix it. Pre-preach in a prayerful way – i.e. why not talk out loud to the Lord about the message before and after actually trying it out?
23. Don’t just preach single passages – I am not saying that the only way to plan your preaching is to preach through a book sequentially, but that should probably be the default approach. Series should not become tedious, but cumulative. Let each message build on what has gone before, while standing in its own right. One way to inject variety is to vary the length of passage. You can cover more ground sometimes, zero in other times, and why not begin and/or end with an effective expository overview of the whole?
24. Converse with the commentaries and other conversation partners – Notice I didn’t put this in at the start. I believe we should converse with others during the process, but not become beholden to one other voice. Doesn’t matter if your favourite preacher preached it that way, or a commentator explained it that way, or your friend sees it that way . . . you are the one who has to preach it. But all of those do matter. Your goal is not stunning originality. You want to be faithful to what the text is actually saying, and faithful to your unique opportunity, audience, ability, etc. So converse with, but don’t ride on any of these partners.
25. Present the passage with engaging clarity and relevance – Here’s the catch-all as we hit number 25. I’ve hammered the need to be truly biblical, rather than just biblically linked or biblically launched. But you also need to preach with a relevance to the listeners, and with a clarity that can be easily followed, and all of that with the engaging energy, enthusiasm, warmth, concern, love and delight that is fitting for someone soaked in a passage from God’s Word. This engaging preaching certainly includes the content, but also the delivery – your expression, your gesture, your movement, your body language, your eye contact . . . it should all be about a heart brimming over with God’s Word to connect with God’s people. Your heart has encountered His heart, so you want to engage their hearts for the sake of transformed lives and a pleased Lord.
What might you add to the list?