The Most Powerful Way to Preach: A Recipe for Transformation

preaching Oct 07, 2022

What makes for transformational preaching?

It’s one thing to preach memorable messages—ones that stick with people. But if memorability is all we want, we’re aiming too low.

Instead, our aim should be transformation. And while we take that aim readily aware that in order for us to hit the target, God must do far more than us and if He doesn’t, our feeble attempt will be pointless.

But the good news is the Lord is always working. So that brings things back to us. How can we preach in such a way that cultivates the possibility for transformation?

In this article, I want to show you the most powerful way to preach.

The Most Powerful Way to Preach: A Recipe for Transformation

1. Transformed Preacher

Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” That’s a statement from someone who has been transformed and is being transformed. The question is, can you tell people to do the same with you?

Because the truth is, we cannot lead people to where we have not gone ourselves. 

If we haven’t allowed the Holy Spirit to invade the deep parts of our heart and reshape how we view things like our past, our present, and our future how could we even think to call people to surrender in that way?

So if you want to preach powerfully, if you want to preach transformationally, it begins with you allowing Jesus to powerfully transform you.

But what does that look like?

I love Steve Carter’s definition of freedom in Christ (and this truly captures what I’m getting at here in being transformed): Freedom in Christ is having...

“Nothing to prove. Nothing to lose. Nothing to hide.” - Steve Carter

Let that sink in. And then let the Lord bring that about in your heart. 

But how does this affect your preaching?

When you’re allowing the Lord to transform you, you’re going to be prepared to preach powerfully. As Rick Warren has said, “how do you preach powerfully today? You preach personally.”

This means you don’t buy into the old advice that you never share your progress. But instead, when appropriate, you share your struggles and your growth. 

Since you’re actively allowing the Lord to shape and mold and sanctify you, you let people in to what He’s doing. Not to make the message about you, but to create a powerful connection so that people can see what allowing Christ to transform them looks like.

The most powerful way to preach? This recipe for transformation begins with a transformed preacher.

2. Timeless and Timely Message

The second ingredient for transformation and preaching powerfully is a timeless and timely message. 

Your message must be timeless.

It must be deeply rooted in the ancient Scriptures, understood in its context, and exegeted accurately so that we may understand how the original author intended it to be understood and how the original recipients would have received it.

This takes extensive skill to not only study these details but then to craft a message in which you can teach these things without losing people’s attention in the process. 

Your message must be timeless. It must be God’s eternal message for all people throughout all time. If this is skipped over, the message will lose its power. 

We’re not seeking to preach a hodge-podge of cliches and Hobby Lobby coffee mug quotes. We’re seeking to preach the words of God to God’s people with accuracy and passion.

Too often, church people today follow Christ without a deep rooted awareness that they are a part of a long line of faith—people who have come before them who struggled with the same kinds of things they do. When we preach in such a way that jumps over the timeless nature of God’s word and ignore its historical context and original recipients, we do our people an immense disservice.

But in addition to being timeless…

Your message must also be timely.

When you stand to preach, it must be God’s eternal word to a particular people at a particular time. 

People need to know that the Lord has a word for them today. They need to know that He’s still working and His word is still true right now.

So as preachers who want to preach powerfully, we must teach the timeless message of the Lord and bring to it timely questions, illustrations, and considerations that would help God’s people follow Him more closely today.

People need to know that we understand them and know what they feel. Because without that, connection can’t happen. Without that, trust won’t be given.

Instead of people wondering what does this have to do with me? They must, by the end of the message, be wrestling with the Lord because of what they know He said to them.

But this takes hard work. We must consider all the cultural narratives that are at work in our context. We must consider the hurts and experiences people have gone through and the narratives they’ve attached to those things that produces different fruit than what the Lord wants to grow in them. We must always remember that there’s always an issue below the issue we see on the surface.

If you want to preach powerfully, your message must simultaneously be timeless and timely.

3. Gospel-Infused Application That Gets Below the Surface

If we stand up to preach and all that happens is people are wowed by our oratory skills, we have utterly failed. 

Instead, we must prayerfully point people to the gospel and how the Lord wants to invade every part of their lives. 

We must show how this particular passage is rooted in the gospel of Jesus. And we must show how deep Jesus wants those roots to go in their heart.

Friend, people are overwhelmed, distracted, and hurting. And as my preaching coach, Dick Alexander has said, “we need to get into their soul and connect. That’s transformational.”

We need to get into their soul and connect. Yes!

This means we not only need to understand God’s word deeply but we must also understand people deeply. 

But unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Because not only do we need to know God’s word and people, we must do the hard work to craft messages that communicate from God’s word to people.

And that right there is the unique, difficult, and amazingly awe-inspiring work we’re called to do.

In our sermon prep, we must ask ourselves and ask the Lord, have I dug deep enough into your heart in this passage and have I dug deep enough into the human soul in order to preach this faithfully?

Sunday’s coming but God’s working. So trust that He’ll lead you deeper if you ask Him.

Go From Good Preaching to Transformational Preaching

There’s a lot of good preaching out there. But if I know one thing about you it’s that you want to continue growing in your preaching craft.

And that’s why I’m so excited for this coming Monday (October 10th) as I am going to be announcing a brand new resource designed to help you go from good preaching to transformational preaching.

It’s been in the works for well over a year and I believe it’s some of my best work.

If you want to go from good preaching to transformational preaching, don’t miss the announcement on Monday.

Get Your Copy: 10-Step Guide to Writing a Sticky Sermon

In the meantime, if you want to be faithful to the text, prepare efficiently, and craft your sermon memorably, I’ve got just the thing to help. It’s called the 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon and it’s yours for free. Just click here to grab your copy.

Write sermons that stick!

Learn the 10-step process to crafting and writing a memorable, transformational sermon. Download this free guide today.

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