Neither Padded, Nor Dense – 3

Yesterday I began a list.  The goal is to preach sermons that are not only heard, but also felt.  The first point was to recognize that cramming in information will squeeze out feeling.  Furthermore:

2. Take the time to let images form.  Whether you are explaining the context, making sense of the text, telling the story, or even illustrating a point, let the images form.  Imagine that inside your listeners there is a screen.  That screen is covered by smoke.  Quick propositions and statements won’t register on that screen.  It takes good description and a bit of time for the images to form there.  But once those images form, once people can see what you are saying, then something powerful starts to happen.  They empathise with characters.  They experience the plot.  They begin to feel.  And once they feel, then the truth being preached is a truth experienced, a truth driven deep.  It goes beyond cognition.  Truth felt tends to lead to lives changed.

3. Develop the skill of painting with words.  I mentioned this in passing, but it is worthy of its own point.  We need to develop our ability to describe.  Stories need to be effectively told, poems need to be carefully described, contexts of letters need to be engagingly presented.  Wherever we are in the Bible, we need to keep growing in our ability to describe effectively, vividly and engagingly.  Vocabulary matters.  Pace matters.  Expression matters.  I can describe something with 100% accurate facts, but leave you completely underwhelmed.  A good preacher can describe something so that you feel like you see it.

4. Find the balance between time/pace and content.  This is the challenge.  Every element of a message could potentially benefit from more time and slower pace.  But there is a balance to be found.  It is like the movie maker situation we pondered earlier in the week.  Too much time, too slow a development, too drawn out a scene, and the momentum is lost.  Too fast, too much information and too rapid a transition and the viewers are left behind.

The difference between a summary and the real deal should not be padding, and it can’t be just information crammed in.  There has to be careful planning to engage not only the heads of the listeners, but also their hearts.

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One thought on “Neither Padded, Nor Dense – 3

  1. Great series Peter!!! I think the descriptive analogy of movie making is certainly apropos. What an incredible challenge to preach the Living Word is such a way that we bring the Word to life as well as to attempt to get it into the lives of our hearers. Oh that we who preach to our congregations this week would vividly and engagingly present the Person of the text as we ourselves have been overwhelmed by that very One of the Scriptures were written.

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