What a Difference Great Preaching Makes!
by Josh Hunt

Home PageDouble Your ChurchEmailResume Conferences


Bob and Alice flipped past a few channels on the radio as they drove home for church Easter Sunday.(1) They paused when the live radio broadcast from First Church came on. Perhaps they thought they would check out the competition. What they heard made their mouth drop open. They paused and listened, and looked at each other, and listened some more. Their mouths became dry as they looked at each other in disbelief. They couldn't believe what they heard. This couldn't be coincidence. It was just too similar. No, not similar. This sermon was exactly the same as they had their pastor preach just two hours ago in the early service at their own service. Not just the general idea. Not just the text and title. Not just a few illustrations. Not just the outline and major points. Right down to the actual phrases and words and pauses and jokes. The preacher at First Church at their own pastor were preaching the same sermon on the same day. Not just sorta similar. Exactly the same sermon--word for word in places. Who had copied whom? Or did they copy from a common source? What was going on here? They were so shocked they didn't know if they should be mad or what.

CUT. STOP THE STORY RIGHT THERE.

What is your call here? Did Bob and Alice a right to be mad that their pastor had not served up a fresh spiritual meal? Should they raise a stink, let the secret out and accuse him of cheating, plagiarism, a kind of spiritual Mily-Vanily all over again? Should they warn the church before they have lip-sinked sermons and holographic preachers? What will come next?

A Using Someone Else's Sermons


There is certainly a place where plagiarism in the pulpit is a clear breach of ethics. Here is an example.

YOU MAKE THE CALL

When I was in college we had an evangelist come to town who had a sermon where he wanted to illustrate what it meant to pray in the name of Jesus. He told a charming story about a time when he brought his family to Disneyland. His son got to buddying up with some other children at the park. Toward the end of the day a scruffy kid stuck his paw out at the weary evangelist and said, "Your son said you would give me a dollar for the ride." You could write the rest of the story. The dad dug deep to come through for his kid. This scruffy kid whom the evangelist had never seen before got a dollar because he came in the name of the son. You know the application.

FAST FORWARD THE TAPE ONE YEAR

Another evangelist comes to town. He too wants to preach to the people about what it means to pray in the name of the Son. He too had taken his son to Disneyland and his son had buddied up with a kid who came to the evangelist late in the day. Both kids were even scruffy. Coincidence? Hardly. The details of the stories were just too similar.

One of my friends couldn't just let this one pass. He confronted the evangelist who calmly explained that he and the other evangelist were good friends and had decided that they could share each other's first person stories and keep them in the first person. Keeping them in the first person and telling the story as if it were his own was supposed to add to the dramatic effect. This, in turn, was supposed to make lying right. I don't think so. I say it was wrong. Not because I think it is wrong to borrow sermons, but because I think it is wrong to lie. The evangelist told a story and said it had happened to his own family when, in fact, it had not. He lied. In the name of dramatic appeal and effective communication he told a bold face lie. I say it is wrong. I say that is the kind of stuff that gives preachers a bad name. That is the kind of stuff that gets Christ's name drug through the mud. We don't need that kind of stuff. It is a lie. It calls into question the validity of the rest of the message. It is wrong. Any questions?

YOU MAKE THE CALL, TAKE TWO

Suppose to preachers listen to tapes of their favorite preachers as they drive. Suppose they like the same preachers. In preparing for Easter, they listen to this preacher's Easter message from the previous year. They are so moved by they message they prayerfully decide to use this sermon on Easter Sunday. The listen and relisted. They transcribe every word. They outline the message. They study. They prepare. They rehearse. They listen again and again. On Sunday morning, just across from town from each other, they deliver two identical sermons. You make the call. Was their a violation of some kind here? I don't think so.

I would rather have good left overs than freshly cooked Spam.

I would rather watch a good rerun than a bad first run.

I would rather have a print of a great painting than an original of a bad painting.

I would rather listen to a good copy of a good sermon than listen through a bad original every single time. Bring on the copies. I'd rather have them in a heartbeat than and original that is less than stellar.

Fact is, preachers have been doing this for years through the medium of print. That is why books of sermons and sermons outlines are so popular. Do people think that people read books of sermons just for their devotional content? Of course not. They preach them. It just seems a little more flagrant, more high tech, less studious when it is done through the medium of tape as opposed to print. When you copy a taped sermon, you tend to follow it more closely--down the wording and the pauses and the feel of the message.

My first mentor in the ministry taught me this. "Don't preach all of your own sermons, Josh," Cliff told me. "When you preach someone else's sermons, it forces you into patterns of thought that are different than your own. When people hear you preach all the time, they get used to your logic, your way of approaching the text. By following someone else's approach, you will stretch the congregation beyond where you could take them yourself." I think he was right.

A regular diet of copied sermons is one of the best ways to keep the quality of preaching as high as it needs to be. One of the easiest ways to improve your preaching is to preach other people's sermons.

Preaching is hard work. Preparation is hard work. Rick Warren says he spends 10 - 15 hours on the average weekend message. Why let that go to waste? You can preach a sermon just as good in a fraction of the time. Many churches of large churches have preaching assistants who do nothing but read books all week and pass notes to the pastor. They do all the research and dig out illustrative material. I know one pastor who has three full time assistants who help him with sermons preparation. His sermons are really good! Who couldn't preach great sermons if they had kind of help? You can! Just get the tapes!

Copied sermons have several other advantages. First, you get to preach the "best of." Most preachers can relate to the experience of having sermons fly in the study and crash in the pulpit. This approach does not guarantee that this will never happen, but it does allow you to hear how this message comes off before a live audience, albeit not your people or your delivery. I can't imagine having to preach every sermons some other preacher preached. But, to pick the best 6 sermons Bill Hybels did last year--if you can't get those off the ground, you just flat can't preach!

Musicians--even musicians who write their own music--don't fall into this trap. Most church musicians don't mind sing other people's songs. It is only preacher who think they must be original. You heard about the preacher who said he would be original or nothing. He was both.

Some will argue, "But I just have a burning message I must deliver at this time for my people." Great. Deliver it. What are you going to do next week? Maybe you have a series you need to deliver? What are you doing after that? What are you doing sunday nights? Wednesday nights? If you have not gotten up on Monday morning and said to yourself, "Uggers, three more." you haven't preached very long. It will happen. When it does, grab the seeds catalogue from Willowcreek. For $3 a tape, help is on the way. I am not saying to preach other people's sermons all the time. I am just suggesting that you do it a lot.

The easiest way to write great sermons is like that old commercial about waxing the car; the easiest way is to let someone else wax it. The easiest way to write great sermons is to let someone else do it.

 

How to Prepare Your Own Great Sermon


Ok, so it is all right to preach someone else's sermons from time to time--perhaps even fairly regularly. What about the rest of the time? Is there a sure fire way of producing good sermons most every time? I think there is.

The first step is to not set the bar to high. Notice I said the goal was to preach good sermons most every time. Nothing will kill good preaching faster than the pressure to produce incredible sermons every single time. The pressure will kill any creative juices you have. The worry is probably sin. You need to hit solid singles most every time you come to the plate. If you hit some doubles and triples and home runs every now and then, all the better. The key thing is to avoid popping up. Consistency with singles is more important than occasional home runs. Sometimes, going for the fence is a recipe for striking out.

In Double Your Class, I make the statement that you do not have to be Chuck Swindoll to grow a class. The same is true with preaching. You do not have to be Chuck Swindoll to grow a church. I have know many churches that were growing at a healthy rate with half-way decent preaching. A good, clear, simple, straightforward presentation of the truth will do. If you can get some chilling statistics and some heartwarming stories and a great poem, all the better. But if not, relax. God can use ordinary preaching rather nicely.

Don't hear me saying preaching well doesn't matter. It does. The single best predictor of the growth of any church is the preaching ability of the pastor. If a pastor preaches really well, growth is nearly automatic. If a pastor preaches poorly, growth is nearly impossible. There is not much that can be done to compensate for poor preaching. Improving the quality of your preaching--and everyone's preaching can improve--is probably the single most important thing you can do to effect the growth of your church. It is also the easiest. It is also completely within your control. Do as well as you can with preaching, and strive for constant quality improvement. But don't be too hard on yourself. You don't have to be Chuck Swindoll to grow a church.

If you find yourself reading this and thinking, "Oh, this doesn't really apply to me. My wife and friends tell me my preaching is great." Think again. Everyone's preaching can and should be improved. If you have not been working on constantly improving your preaching there are probably a lot of kind people out there that wish you would do so. Now. I talk to a good number of laymen about their pastor's preaching. Most of them are not so impressed.

By the way, One of the best ways to continually improve your preaching is to take your Sunday School teachers through a book on teaching or communication at least once a year. If it sounds like too much work, have them do part of the teaching. This one act will keep everyone's teaching improving better than anything else I know.

The first step to putting together a good sermon is to craft a simple, easy to understand title that promises take-home value. Make your sermon title sound like a cover article to Reader's Digest. Deliver biblical answers. The current issue of Reader's Digest offers the following examples of good titles:

Drug proof your child. (Question: does the Bible have anything to say about that? It is obviously a topic people are very interested in.)

Nine things that make a marriage work. (Hint: one way to make titles more interesting is to include the number of points. There is just something more interesting about "9 things that make a marriage work' as opposed to "Making a better marriage." When you tell people you have nine specific things they start wondering what they are.

Does prayer heal? (It is a sign of our time that secular magazines are talking more and more about spiritual things. They don't do this because of an evangelistic interest. Nor do they do it because they just thought it might be a neat idea. The do it because solid demographic data shows that people are deeply interested in spiritual things. The culture is hungry for spiritual reality. They don't care where they get it. Evangelical Christianity will do fine. Catholicism is fine. New age is fine. Mormonism is fine. When you are hungry enough, bad food tastes good. It is our job to deliver the real goods.

How diet doctors lose weight. (Although weight lose is obviously a topic of interest to many Americans, and the Bible does speak to it, I am not sure we should give it as much air time as Reader's Digest does.)

The easiest way to write good titles is with the how-to sermon. How-to sermons are like chocolate--is hard to mess them up. Chocolate candy bar, chocolate cake, chocolate anything is good. It is hard to mess it up. The only thing better is double chocolate something. Like a chocolate, most how-to sermons are pretty good. Here are some examples, based on the beatitudes. This is one example of how you could take this text and turn it into a how-to sermon.

Verse

How To

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. How to make it when you run out of steam
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. How to survive when you can't stop crying
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. How to be strong when you feel weak
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. How to find the stuff that really satisfies
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. How to be kind when you'd rather be cruel
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. How to have a clear conscience
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. How to help your friends get along
Matthew 5:10 - 12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. How to stand up for what you believe in

A regular diet of how-to sermons makes it easy for the congregation to progress in the faith. How-to sermons are easy to understand and apply. However, if this is all the congregation receives, it will probably not be a very well-balanced congregation. Don't do how-to sermons more than 80% of the time.

These Reader's Digest titles ought to be presented to the congregation ahead of time. Suppose a theater advertized by saying, "Come to our movies. We have a wide variety of good movies in a variety of genres. We have top name actors and producers with state of the art special effects. Some of our movies are fast and action packed, others are high drama. Some are for children, some are for lovers, some are for teenagers. Some will make you laugh, some will make your cry. They are all good. Come try a movie today." I would give that advertizing strategy about a day to kill any success the theater was enjoying.

Yet, this is exactly what we do with sermons. "Come hear our pastor, he has great sermons. They deal with a variety of topics found in the Bible ranging from sex to death to jealousy and fear to heaven and hell. All of them are well crafted and interesting. Most of all, they are all based on the Bible." Far better to say, "This is the schedule for what we will be exploring during the next six weeks." Put it in the bulletin every week.

Much is said these days about making our services attractive to unbelievers. Much of this is good and needed to be said. One little detail, however, seems to have slipped through the cracks. It is important that seekers will feel comfortable when they come. It is equally important that believers feel comfortable in inviting their friends. This is what Hybels calls "cringe factor." People don't want to cringe when they bring their friends to church. One way to help this is to tell people what you will be preaching about. If you do this, you will find it a common experience that someone will tell you they were invited specifically for the series on family, or success, or whatever. I had someone tell me they came because the topic was on death. It will surprise you what people find interesting. People are very interested in theology. It just needs to be couched in a Reader's Digest style. The are interested in "3 things you will know 3 seconds after you die." They are not so interested in, "Anthropology as it relates to teleology from a theological perspective."

Christians, of course, ought to be interested in everything the Bible has to say. If we care about attracting unbelievers to our services, however, we ought to give them the courtesy of tell them what we will be preaching about. Some say we can't make people thirst for the living water. Not so. We can salt the oats.

Summary: the first step in developing excellent sermons is to begin with a Reader's Digest title. If it is not worthy of a Reader's Digest cover, it is probably not interesting enough.

The second step: provide biblical answers. This is a true story. One preacher said to another, "Have you read Steven Covey's book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?" Read it, why I have preached it! This happens more than we know.

As good as Covey is, we are not in the business of preaching Covey, or Peal or Carnegie. Read Covey. Illustrate with Peale. Get ideas from Carnegie. But preach the Bible. This is not therapy. It is not self-help. It is not business who-rah. This is preaching, and preaching is about communicating biblical truth through human personality.

The thing that is wrong with Covey is not his Mormonism. There is not enough Mormonism in the 7 habits to hurt anyone. If I were Covey's pastor I would scold him for not being Mormon enough. This is why you can preach the 7 habits and provide legitimate, biblical support for each one. So far so good. That is preaching that people will find interesting, biblical and applicable. But that is not enough. They thing that is wrong with Covey is not what it says; it is what it does not say. There is no mention of the cross, of sin, of grace, of forgiveness. This is what people need. They need the gospel, not self help. The first of the seven habits is about being proactive. We must take responsibility for out own lives. That is a biblical message. But it is not all of the message. The other part of the biblical message is that we have not done so and we need to repent and enjoy grace.

After we write our Reader's Digest title, the next question is, "What does the Bible have to say about this?" The answer to that question is, "A lot." The Bible has a lot to say about almost everything. By direct teaching or example or principle, the Bible speaks plenty to virtually every subject.

Great preaching scans the whole of scripture to discover what is said about this topic. Topical preaching is not all that popular among the preaching elite. They will even say it is not all that biblical. To hear some of the talk, topical preaching is the fluffy, light stuff that will never produce honest to goodness disciples. The proudly look down their noses on topical preaching. Let them. Who is your audience, anyway?

Although topical preaching is not so popular among the preaching elite, it is extremely popular in the pew. Doing a sermon on "What the Bible has to say about XYZ" is inherently interesting. People want to know what the Bible says about sex, about love, about war, about the environment, about death. People are not so interested in "Becoming a Titus," and "Amos on the poor." We ought to inspire people to be like Titus; we just need better titles. Deal with Amos; just don't put it in the title. And when you deal with what Amos had to say about the poor, mention what Jesus and Paul had to say as well.

One of the rules of interpretation is that every time a subject comes up in the Bible, the writer is not obligated to say everything that is true about that subject. Here is an example. Matthew 17:20 Emphasizes the importance of faith: "He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'" Faith is important in prayer. However, to say that faith is the only thing required for answered pray would be to misunderstand scripture. To teach that would be to miss-teach. I John 5:14 teaches an equally valid truth about prayer: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." Good preaching will preaches with an awareness of the whole counsel of God on the subject at hand.

Great preaching takes every text on the subject seriously. It does not count the verses that seem to support two sides of an issue and declare the side with the most verses the winner. Here is what I mean. Suppose you come across the passage that says, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) On one level this sounds sort of works theology-ish. You don't go with works theology so you just approach this text with a big, "Yeah, but." "Yeah, but, Ephesians 2:8, 9. Yeah, but, Titus 3:5." This is failure to take the text seriously. The question is, what does Luke 14:33 say and mean, not how many verse can you line up on the other side.

Great preaching starts with Reader's Digest titles. If offers biblical answers. These answers center around two questions: why and how. Almost every topic can be handled excellently by dealing biblically with the questions why and how. The why portion can contain both positive and negative motivations--carrot and stick. List three positive reasons why being morally faithful and 3 negative ones. By the way, the negative reasons tend to be the greater motivator.

Both "why" and "how" are important. "Why" gives us the motivation. Educators have done studies on how to impart values to kids in class room settings. The only thing that worked was asking the kids over and over, "Why? Why? Why?" Nothing else produces internal motivation. Without the motivation, the "how" does not matter. The "how" shows the way. Without the "why", the "how" is irrelevant. Without the "how", the "why" only frustrates. It creates thirst without providing water. Here are two examples.

Topic One: How to Affair Proof Your Marriage

Why you need to affair proof your marriage

Negative motivations:

The commonness of affairs

The pain and destructiveness of affairs

The pain of guilt

Positive motivations

The benefit of a clear conscience

The benefit of committed love

Affair proofing your marriage is not all that difficult. It just means paying attention

How to affair proof your marriage

Begin with the right attitude: It could happen to me.

I Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!

Guard your own heart

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Make a promise with your eyes

Job 31:1 I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.

Run from temptation

II Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Hide God's word in your heart

Psalms 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

Protect your lover.

I Corinthians 13:7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

 

Topic Two: How to be sure of your final destination

Why you need to be sure of your final destination

Negative motivations:

Death is so common. We will all die.

Psalms 89:48 What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?

Death is so permanent. It lasts a long time.

Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

It is scary not knowing (You could end up in hell.)

Revelation 20:15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

It is scary for your family not being sure of your final destination. If you are tough enough to think, "I'll take my chance." Be kind enough to give your family some assurance.

Positive motivations

The joy of assurance

The possibility of assurance

I John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

How to be sure of your final destination

Confess

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Believe

Acts 16:31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

Receive

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

Each of these examples would, of course, include a number of illustrations, explanations and references not included here. My points is to illustrate the simplicity and the power of the "Why/How" sermon. This is not the only formula for a great sermon, but it is a good one. It will consistently produce sermons that are interesting and applicable. These sermons will contribute to the disciplemaking process. They will make it easy for your Sunday School teachers to double their classes Every Two Years or less. They will make it easy for you to double your church every five years or less.

Great preaching starts with Reader's Digest titles. It provides biblical answers that grow out of a thorough and balanced understanding of scripture. These are the big two. Seven more things complete the picture. Although less important than the big two, these seven ingredients could spell the difference between disciples and yawns.

Great preaching illustrates from every day life. Too many sermon illustrations are off the farm. Not enough sermon illustrations are from USA Today. Illustrating from USA Today gives the sermon a feeling of connection to the real world. It feels like it relates. Too many illustrations from the farm make our gospel sound like something only relevant to a distant urban culture. Great preaching tells stories of Michael Jordon more often than Spurgeon.

Great preaching provides lots of help for families. The family is the first test of whether Christianity is working. Families are in trouble today. Christian families are in trouble today. They need more than a mother's day message on how wonderful mothers are and a father's day message on how Dads need to get with it. They need help from nearly every sermon. Each week, ask yourself the question, "How does this relate to families?"

Great sermons are delivered in a style that is positive, warm and interesting. Generally speaking, your people ought to like you when you preach. They ought to sense that you like them. Notice I said generally. There does come a time to take the gloves off and speak the truth even if it hurts. There is a place for a prophetic voice. But it shouldn't hurt all the time. Remember, it is good news. You ought to smile a good deal when you preach. Act like you are happy about the good news.

Great preaching creates buzz. Great preaching asks as many questions as it answers. Great preaching gets people talking. Great preaching is pondered all week long. Great preaching is disagreed with by fine Christian minds. Great preaching occasionally contradicts itself, at least on one level. Great preaching makes people want to raise their hand and disagree. Great preaching surprises. Study the preaching of Jesus. It was the talk of town. It created a buzz because it was open to interpretation--so much so that people are still arguing about what Jesus really meant. It is still buzzing 2000 years later.

Great preaching is no-assembly-required. It is ready to use, right out of the box. It has high take-home value. Don't ever ask your people to do your job for you. Your job is to show how to apply the Bible to life. Don't ever tell them to go figure out a way to apply it. Don't just tell what to do; show how. Don't just proclaim, "Thou shall not commit adultery." Show how to affair proof your marriage. Bruce Wilkerson's research revealed that the greats in preaching spend about half their sermons in applications. Preaching that results in disciples shows how.

Great preaching has large dosages of grace. It is easy to live the Christian life, isn't it? Just. . .

Read the Bible each day

Pray each day

Avoid sin, especially the biggies

Discover your gift and get involved in a ministry

Tithe

Have a date night with your wife

Have well-behaved kids

Recycle plastics, aluminum, tin, paper (newspaper and office paper) and glass

Memorize scripture regularly

Read Christian books

Listen to Christian radio

Be involved with lost neighbors and friends

Serve on several committees

Come to most of the activities the church offers--don't neglect the assembling of the saints

Never patronize a company whose advertising supports the homosexual agenda.

Don't be a workaholic

Drive the speed limit

Easy right? If you do all these things, you are well on your way. These things are all well and good. Really--no sarcasm--they really are. It would be great if every Christian did all of them. But we don't. Remind people often that, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." (I John 2:1) This verse keeps it all in focus. The goal is that we not sin. The goal is not to cut down on sinning. The goal is not to avoid the biggies. The goal is perfection. Absolute, complete perfection. But, for those of us who don't quite measure up, there is grace--one who speaks to the Father in our defense. Remind your people often of this. They probably need to hear grace more often than the need to hear oughta and shoulda. The gospel is not fundamentally about oughta and shoulda. That is law. The law system of oughta and shoulda never ever worked. And it won't work now. The miracle of the gospel is that grace does work.

One last thing: great preaching throws the gauntlet down and says, "I dare you." The number one failure of most salesmen is they simple don't ask for the sale. Never be afraid to ask for the sale. Never back off one inch from say,

I want to ask you to make a commitment today to enjoy God

I want to invite you to repent of saying "Lord, Lord," and not doing what he says.

Right now, today, I want to ask you to be obedient to the command of God to rejoice in the Lord always.

Who have you wronged and never tried to make it right? Would you be willing to "live at peace with all men, as far as possible, if it depends on you"?

Evaluate your sermons by asking yourself the following questions. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten

____ Do write titles so interesting they could appear on the cover of Reader's digest?

____ Do you faithfully deliver answers from the Bible?

____ Are your sermons interesting and easy to listen to?

____ Do you use current (USA Today style) illustrations?

____ Do you show people specifically how the truth relates to their Monday morning?

____ Do you offer ample help for families?

____ Do you preach with large helpings of grace?

____ Are you gutsy enough to challenge people to obedience?

Did you get something less than a 10 on each of these? Stand in grace just now. But, go and sin no more. I am not sure it is a sin to not preach as well as you could. I think it is a sin to fail to improve your preaching. Pick out one or two things you are going to improve between now and the next time you read a book on preaching.

While you are working on improving your communication skills, don't ignore the content of what is being communicated. A lot of bad preaching is not only bad in style, it is bad theology. We know this because people don't repeat it. Good news always travels fast.

 

20 questions


1. What are the pros and cons of copying someone else's sermons?

2. Tell me about a positive experience with preaching someone else's stuff?

3. What are the dangers of preaching someone else's stuff?

4. Who are some of your favorite preachers to copy?

5. Tell me about the process you use to prepare a sermon from Monday morning to Sunday morning.

6. What part of the process do you struggle with the most?

7. What part of preaching do you like the best?

8. In what ways do you feel good about yourself as a preacher?

9. How could you affirm someone else's preaching who is hear today?

10. What is the biggest road block between you and the next level in preaching for you? What is keeping you from stepping up your ability one notch?

11. What would your people say about your preaching? What do they like? What would they like improved?

12. In what ways has your preaching improved in the last six months?

13. Has anyone had a positive experience with teaching Sunday School teachers about the craft of communication? What do you think about this idea?

14. What are some examples of good books on teaching or communication that would benefit both you and your teachers to explore?

15. When in the next 12 months could you see yourself leading your teachers through one of these books?

16. What do you think about the idea of writing sermons with Reader's Digest titles?

17. Do any of you print the titles to your sermons ahead of time?

18. Why is a strong "Why" important in preaching?

19. Which do you think is more motivating, negative "Whys" (sin brings punishment) or positive "whys" (obedience bring reward)?

20. Let's close by each telling about a moment in preaching in the past year that was really magic

1. This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect. . . well, you will have to be the judge of that.