Listener Levels: 7 Suggestions to Improve Accessibility

MeasuringTapeHow can we improve at offering explanation that will help people at the lower range of understanding?  Perhaps your preaching goes over peoples’ heads, but you want to explain the Bible in a way that is accessible to younger Christians or less biblically literate folk?  Some suggestions:

1. Pray about it – Nobody cares about your listeners as much as God, so ask for His coaching.

2. Get feedback – Try to find out from people what is lacking.  It could be that your vocabulary is obfuscatory, or your content is too dense, or your delivery is unengaging, or your words are indistinct and hard to catch, etc.

3. Watch and evaluate some great explainers – Watch a preacher who is especially effective at explaining and describing the biblical content and action.  What are they doing well?

4. Vary the elevation of your helicopter – If everything is explained from 100ft, then your messages will be deadening.  You need to be able to lift up to 5000ft for a brief overview of the Bible, and you need to be able to land the chopper when you are settling for a while in a verse.  Too much content where you need to be flying higher will lose listeners in overwhelming detail.

5. Surrender prideful vocabulary – To put it simply: your mission is not to impress, but to communicate.  Relegate your original language vocabulary, your technical grammatical vocabulary, your systematic theological terminology and any other impressive jargon to your study.  Know it, understand it, and sometimes, if necessary, explain it, but generally speaking it is best to leave it behind when you go to preach.

6. Achieve more by preaching less and driving it in more – Speaking of leaving things in the study, try leaving more of your message there.  Often we confuse people by trying to achieve too much education in a single sermon.  Andy Stanley says that many sermons would make great series.  Try to cover less and you will have time for clearer explanation.

7. Improve your outlining – A lot of messages are complex because the preacher hasn’t thought themselves through to a point of clarity.  I typically point to the main idea at this point, since a clear main idea will create clarity throughout the message.  So true.  But also give some time to evaluating the outline.  Is it as simple and clear as can be?  Is each part of the message doing something specific?  If at a certain point in your message you don’t even know that you are trying to explain, nor will your listeners!

What else would you add?

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