9. Be mature in your application. The immature preacher will hammer out simplistic advice. The mature preacher knows that Christianity isn’t about self-help advice and tips for better living. There is a place for clear guidelines, the Bible gives us such in certain areas. But a lot of life’s issues are not effectively addressed by simplistic “try harder” exhortations. We are designed to be empowered in responsiveness, not empowered for autonomous success. How does God’s promise and God’s presence change things? How does He change us? Don’t tell me to be a better man, but show me Christ and you’ll soon see a better me.
10. Be consistent with the worship. Too often the heart-stirring devotion of sung worship leads to whiplash when the whipping from the pulpit kicks into gear. The whole package should be consistent. If it doesn’t seem right to sing hymns of good living tips – “Raise up the bar so that we might try harder to be good,” or “Amazing Effort,” or “It’s All About Me, Jesus.” If that doesn’t seem right, then maybe it is the preaching that needs to be more consistent with the worship.
11. Be sermonically fresh. When sermons are predictable they tend to lose their impact. So if you are in a rhythm of explanation followed by three points of application in the final minutes, consider whether this tried and trusted method might well have become stale and predictable. Look for different ways to demonstrate the relevance of passages to your listeners.
12. Be consistently relevant. That is to say, instead of ending with application, consider how to demonstrate relevance and application throughout the message. The opening introductory comments are an ideal place to engage listeners and demonstrate your relevance, as well as the relevance of the message and the passage. Try stating your points in contemporary and applied terms. Use transitions for exploring developing application as the message progresses. Drop in hints of relevance, even if not fully developed applications, during the telling of biblical story (avoid trite applications that mishandle the text, but even hints of contemporary awareness can make a real difference to perception).