7 Quick Ways to Improve Your Preaching – Part 3

So far we’ve mentioned cross-referencing, quoting scholars and meandering in part 1, then apologizing and illustrations in part 2.  Now, let’s finish this list of seven quick fixes with part 3 of the list:

6. Stop trying to be funny.

To put it bluntly, either you are funny or you are not funny.  But trying to be funny is not funny.  It is annoying.  That is not to say there can be no humour in our preaching, but let it be more natural.  Unless you are a great joke teller, don’t invest minutes of a sermon in telling a joke.  Trying to entertain or seek approval by laughs is not fulfilling your role as a preacher.  Instead let your demeanor be saturated with genuine gospel joy and enthusiasm that comes from living in the text you are preaching and walking closely with God.  It will be more sincere and people will appreciate it more.  If they want stand-up comedy then the internet is replete, ready and waiting.

7. Stop scratching at your passage.

Ok, this is probably not a quick fix, but it is significant.  A lot of preaching barely scratches the surface of the preaching text.  No matter how much you add careful illustration and clear structure, you can’t overcome the lack of biblical rootedness in this kind of preaching.  Instead of adding filler, or jumping around the canon, or whatever else you might do, dig down into the text you are preaching and make sure the message has the fingerprints of this specific passage all over it.

That was quite a random list, but maybe one of two of these quick fixes fit for you?  Feel free to comment with other things you have tweaked that helped you, or what you need to do next!

Exposition, Narrative and a Pot of Soup

There is a common misunderstanding of expositional preaching in relation to Bible stories.  I’ve heard the analogy used of a pot of soup.  A narrative sermon is like a pot of soup prepared carefully to be enjoyed by the guests – an experience to be savoured.  An expositional sermon is like an explanation of the recipe of the pot of soup.  Recognizing the difference between narrative preaching and preaching narratives, let’s engage with this analogy briefly.

With some preachers this negative recipe description may be fitting, but that doesn’t make the analogy accurate.  An expository preacher is concerned about communicating the point of the passage, rather than seeking to explain the point of every detail.  A good expository preacher knows that a story has its own way of carrying and conveying its point.  Thus a good expositor preacher, preaching a story, will not dissect it into a lifeless and experience-free recipe, but will communicate the story as effectively and accurately as possible.

What needs to be added to the telling of the story?  Any necessary explanation to make sense of it.  An underlining of the point, exposed for clarity, but appropriately timed so as not to undermine the impact.  If not inherently implicit, some form of emphasis on the contemporary relevance of the story.

What isn’t needed is endless detailed explanation, or numerous unnecessary and disconnected illustrations, or ill-timed statements of the proposition, or commentary-style titles for each segment of the message, or a manner which robs the story of its emotion, tension or energy.

When you preach a story, be sure to be expository . . . but not the wrong kind that feels like the explanation of a recipe!