Sometimes a quick change can make a big difference. Let’s say you drive your car with the handbrake only partially released. Release it properly and your driving will immediately improve. Here are 7 quick fixes to markedly improve your preaching.
1. Stop excessive cross-referencing.
There are lots of reasons we cross reference with other passages, but not many good reasons. I tend to think that reinforcing a point as biblical when it seems unlikely, or clarifying the background of a text quoted in your text are two of the good reasons to jump out of your passage. But some of the bad reasons? To fill time. Because that’s what other preachers do. To show off knowledge. Because older listeners expect it. These are not good reasons. I remember someone saying that too much cross-referencing confuses younger Christians because they can’t follow along, and it causes older Christians to sin because it feeds their pride. There are reasons to cross-reference, but remove the excess and your preaching will improve.
2. Stop excessively quoting scholars.
Adept transitioning between the insights of various commentaries can be like good gear changes in driving. Referencing every scholar along the way makes those gears crunch. Generally, it is worth asking what is added by naming the scholar? If you use particularly specific wording and the name of the scholar is helpful, then by all means name them. Otherwise generally decide between preaching without any reference, and making a vague reference…”One book I was reading put it like this…” (Remember, people can always ask for your sources, even though they almost never do.) There is no requirement that you identify three commentaries and include a Spurgeon quote in every sermon.
3. Stop meandering.
Listeners will listen gripped by well organized and well-presented material. But listeners can also spot meandering and filler like a dog can sniff meat. Don’t look at your notes and assume it will come out ok when you are preaching. It is much better to preach it through and make sure it can come out of your mouth and not just look good on paper. Meandering transitions, conclusions and even whole points are counterproductive. And with decent preparation, they are really unnecessary.
I will continue the list tomorrow, but what would you add?