My first sermon was at the age of 15 to a small group in DeWitt Clinton High School, and then on the streets in New York. I’ve always had a desire to be faithful to the text of scripture, communicate clearly, and to see life change. Here is a list of seven things I’ve learned about preaching. I’ve kept my explanations to a minimum as this is written for a wider audience.
Preparation begins much before the sermon preparation begins.
Life is preparation. Your sermon is developed not just from a study of the text, but it develops through your life. The same message preached by two different people will be completely different since these two individuals are entirely different. Their lives have been entirely different.
Preach to yourself first
Allow time for the message of the sermon to do its work in you. Only then will your sermon be complete. Sermons prepared at the last minute will have much less impact than sermons that have been lived out in the preacher.
Preach from your heart.
Be faithful to the text and do good exegesis and exposition, but when you preach it, allow it to come from the heart. When something comes from your heart, it best communicates to the hearts of your listeners.
Appeal to their minds
Make sure your sermon flows logically. Otherwise, your listeners will block it from going down to their hearts. Allow the sermon to appeal to their minds first, and the Holy Spirit will touch their hearts and make the appropriate change of mind, heart, and life.
Aim for their hearts
As you appeal to their minds, make sure your ultimate aim is to impact their hearts. Only a true heart change will impact a life change that is genuine and lasting.
Leave the rest to the Holy Spirit
When you conclude your message, trust the Holy Spirit to convict and apply the message to their lives. Don’t try too hard to push for results. You’ve been faithful to the task of preaching, and the Holy Spirit will be faithful to the task of convicting and bringing life change.
When you finish, walk away.
As you allow the Holy Spirit to work in the conclusion by convicting and applying, learn the art of “walking away.” It’s not about you anyway. Its his church, and its his ministry. Don’t take the entire burden on yourself, and don’t take the credit for yourself either. It all belongs to God.
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