Sometimes a little tweak can make a big difference. Yesterday I started the list with stop excessive cross-referencing, excessively quoting scholars and meandering (click here if you missed it). Here is the next installment of the list. Do any of these quick fixes fit for you?
4. Stop apologizing.
I don’t know if you do this, but if you do, don’t. Apologies for lack of preparation, or for complexity of subject, or for lack of illustration, or for lack of time to do justice to the subject (you’d have had more if you didn’t apologise for not having enough!) … there are probably a dozen opportunities to apologize in every sermon. Generally speaking, don’t. I apologized the first time I was up front at church. The visiting missionary thanked me afterwards and told me not to apologize because everyone else was encouraged to see me up there. Then the first time I took a lecture for one of my profs at seminary I apologized for not covering every aspect of my subject. He firmly told me to let people think they have the full meal deal. Generally speaking, with some careful exceptions, don’t apologize.
5. Stop using illustrations that don’t work for most listeners.
Illustrative material generally should either work for all, or be combined with parallel illustrations that together will cover the congregation. For example, I have some teens in my house. If I talk about parenting teens then what about parents with smaller children, or those who couldn’t have children, or empty-nesters whose memory has faded? (Plus, what about my teens who have to sit through the illustration – maybe your own family isn’t as good a source of illustrations as you might think!) Then there are my hobbies, or my film choices, or my life experiences…all of which are quite specific to me. Actually, finding illustration material that most can relate to is not easy. But being irrelevant to a group of people for too long in a message is too damaging.
I will finish the list tomorrow…watch this space!