Sermon Tips That Can Help Just About Everyone Be a Better Preacher

Mike 2I get it. Each week it seems like you can’t find enough time to prepare a sermon for Sunday. Thinking about ways to be a better preacher is to overwhelming, because you can barely get from one Sunday to the next with another passable sermon, let alone carve out time to think about how to be a better preacher.

But one of the most important responsibilities of a preacher is to explain and communicate the Bible in a helpful way. Certainly there is a spiritual component to that where God works in ways we don’t often understand. However, God in his wisdom has also decided to work through the skill and effort of the preacher. So it stands to reason that we should view preaching as a craft and find ways to do it better.

Here are seven tips that will help just about everyone be a better preacher. And since I know you don’t have a lot of time, just pick one or two to try out in the next couple of weeks.

1) Slow down

One of the biggest critiques people have of my own preaching is that I go too fast. When you preach, you always will think you are talking slower than you really are. So if you think it’s a good pace, it’s probably too fast. Try slowing it down to the point where you think it’s too slow. In addition, try pausing about five seconds every time you say something you really want people to remember.

2) Study longer

I know this one might make you groan, especially if you feel like you’re strapped for time. But when you understand and believe what you are preaching, your delivery will go better. In fact, if you make a habit of not allowing yourself to start writing your message until you’ve studied a bit longer than you normally would, you’ll likely find that actually writing your message will take less time.

3) Watch yourself

Yeah, I know: it’s painful to watch video of yourself preaching. But the reality is that you are your harshest critic, and if you watch your messages (or at least listen if your church doesn’t record video), you’ll come up with at least a few things that are distracting to your audience you should stop doing immediately.

4) Ask someone to critique you

This one’s also pretty painful, at least if you find someone honest enough to do it well. But if you want to be a better preacher, why not ask someone to evaluate you who actually has to sit through your sermons. Extra credit: Ask someone who doesn’t go to church to watch or sit in on a message and give you some feedback.

5) Work ahead

If you find that you usually run out of time when trying to prep your sermons, why not try working on them more than a week in advance? Working ahead will allow time for God to shape ideas in your mind and heart, and you’ll be more creative. You’ll also have more opportunities to bounce ideas for messages off of other people, rather than locking yourself in your office at 9pm on Saturday night to try to crank a sermon out.

6) Don’t preach so often

If you’re a solo pastor at a small church, I know this one sounds impossible. But no matter the size of the church you serve, there are other people with whom you can share the pulpit. Taking a week off of preaching at least every other month—if not every month—is a great way to get ahead on sermon preparation and be refreshed.

7) Focus on one point

We’ve all done it at one time or another: preach a handful of sermons in one, single Sunday message. Every one of the five points you make might be true, and each one might even make an impact in someone’s life. But no one in the room—including you—will remember all five points on Monday morning. In addition, you won’t have done justice to any one of those points. Whatever text you are preaching from, focus on one thing God is prompting you to preach on. If you find you could talk forever on three or four things from that text, great news: you’ve got yourself a three- or four-week sermon series.

 

What else would you add to this list?

Two Unlikely Enemies of God-Honoring Ministry

Enemies

Last week, my reading plan took me to Mark 14:3-9, which describes a woman (identified as Mary in John) who anoints Jesus using a very expensive jar of perfume. It is a passage I have read and heard many, many times. Mark reports that some at the gathering were indignant that a three-hundred-denarii jar of […]

Continue reading...

Three Statements that Can Wreck Your Leadership

car crash accident on street, damaged automobiles after collision in city

Attitude is a funny thing. How we view the world—and the things that the people we lead perceive that we value—is shown in small interactions over a long period of time. For instance, it doesn’t matter how often a CEO of a retail chain says that he values the customer; if his conversations and small, daily choices show otherwise, […]

Continue reading...

A Three-Step Guide to Communicating Change

Drawing sketch

If you’re a leader, chances are you like to create change. Casting vision—dreaming of a better future—is simply a part of leading a team, organization, or local church. The thing is, a lot of people don’t like change. Or at least, they think they don’t like change. To most people, change is scary. And if you’re […]

Continue reading...

Leadership: Making Decisions vs. Solving Problems

a missing piece in a square built from tangram pieces, a traditi

What does it mean to be a good leader? A common perspective on leadership is that a leader’s role is to make the right decisions, and the best leaders are simply those who make the best decisions. In this scenario, the leader’s team—the people who work for the leader—are to carry out the leader’s decision […]

Continue reading...

Reaching Your Community: Short-Term Mission Trip or Sold-Out Missionaries?

Vector horizontal illustration of big city and skyscrapers with clouds sky.

In the last generation or two, the primary way that churches and ministry leaders in our (Western) culture have attempted to reach people who don’t yet know Jesus has been to build strategies around an “If you build it, they will come” approach. The church building was the hub, and we only had to wait for […]

Continue reading...

5 Truths about Parenting and Leadership

Truths about Parenting and Leadership

I happen to be both a parent and a ministry leader. Ironically, I spent four years in graduate school to learn more about being a pastor, but had zero preparation for the more important job. Still, there is a lot in common with the ministry and parenting hats that I wear. In my almost eight years […]

Continue reading...

Five Reasons Why Preachers Should Talk About Money and Possessions

Money and Possessions

There are few topics that make a preacher uneasy like talking about money does. I get it; it’s difficult to talk about money without sounding like you either A) are being judgmental or legalistic or B) are desperate to raise some cash for the church budget. As a result, many pastors only talk about money and […]

Continue reading...

Five Ways to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

Goals in the New Year

It’s a new year. As many are quick to point out, there’s not much different this week than last week—other than that most of us have gone back to work. But it’s a new year nonetheless, and it’s a great time to reflect on the past and what you hope to be different in the future. […]

Continue reading...