3 Ways to Preach Effectively in 2023Nov 17, 2022
2023 is nearly upon us. And if you're like me and many other pastors, you're working on your yearly sermon calendar. Now, if you want to preach effectively in 2023, you need to offer your people a balanced diet.
But this requires intentionality. So as you consider what you’ll preach on next year, let me help you pray and think through this.
Here are 3 ways to preach effectively in 2023.
1. Do theology - address the questions we’re asking today
We live in a world that has a few dynamics converging. People are constantly confronted by competing narratives about the world. Add to that, church-going people aren’t reading the Bible very often. The result is a lot of people with far more questions than they have answers and, unfortunately, the people who seem to be offering answers to their questions are predominantly not followers of Jesus.
So what ought we do about it? We must do the difficult work of theology and help people navigate the questions that are on their minds in light of what God’s word says.
Because if you don’t do theology with them on Sunday, you better believe that plenty of other people will fill in the gap throughout the week for them.
And if you haven’t noticed, the places that many of your people are getting their theology aren’t from Scripture but from other sources.
But that begs the question: what are the questions people are asking today?
Here’s a list to get you started:
- What does the Bible say about sexual ethics? The bad but also the good?
- What should I do with politics in my life as a follower of Jesus?
- What does the Bible say about race and racism?
- What does the Bible say about gender?
- What is deconstruction? Should we be afraid of difficult questions? What is underneath deconstruction and how should we respond to those who are wrestling with it?
- What should we as Christians do with science?
There are certainly more questions than these but make no mistake: these are big ones today. If you’d like an example of what it looks like to address these questions, check out this series called, Triggered.
Whatever questions you sense your people are asking, it’s worthwhile work to do theology with your people through your preaching. And not just systematics (although that’s important too) but all types of theology.
2. Biblical studies - see what questions God is asking us
If doing theology is (at least partly) asking questions we have of Scripture, doing biblical study (in the way I’m describing) is seeing what questions God is encouraging us to ask.
In this way, we consider the fact that we may not even be asking the right questions to begin with. We might be asking, Lord, what is my purpose? But God might be asking us, who is your neighbor? Which would lead us to live loving lives in the name of Jesus whether we sense some specific calling or not.
The best way I know how to do this is to take a book of the Bible and preach through it.
There are a number of ways to do this:
- Preach verse-by-verse through smaller books of the Bible (i.e. this series on the book of Philippians)
- Preach larger chunks of larger books of the Bible (i.e. this series by The Experience Community Church)
- Preach multiple verse-by-verse series through one larger book of the Bible (i.e. this series of series on the book of Matthew)
- Slowly preach through a smaller part of a book of the Bible (i.e. this series through Romans 12:3-21)
Now, I’m not a preacher who believes verse-by-verse preaching is more holy than topical (or theological) preaching. I believe in the importance of both.
If you want to preach effectively in 2023, make it a point to do some deep biblical study through your preaching. Your people will be glad you did.
3. Ecclesiological focus - mission, vision, values, steps
Preaching is one of the vehicles you have to lead your people and foster unity. During that focused time when you have people’s attention, you can (and should):
- Lead through emphasizing your mission and calling people to join the rest of the church in that mission
- Point people toward a mission-fueled future, a.k.a. your church’s vision
- Express and emphasize the values your church holds and how everyone can live them out
- Show people their next step with the Lord (as you walk them through an intentional discipleship path)
Preaching with an ecclesiological focus can be an effective and powerful way to align your church in a common direction.
And this can be done through dedicated sermon series or even one-off sermons to boost people’s awareness and call people to action.
Without dedicated time to ecclesiological focused messages, it will be difficult to connect people to the culture you’re trying to create within your church.
But if you spend the time reminding people of the church’s mission, vision, values, and steps while showing them the real-life impact these things can have, more people will grow in their commitment and conviction of being a part of what God is doing in their midst.
Preach Effectively By Serving a Balanced Diet
If you do all three of these year in and year out, you will set yourself up to preach effectively because you’ll be serving your people a balanced diet.
But as I alluded to at the beginning of this article, to preach effectively requires intentionality.
Over the next month, if you haven’t already done so, you’re going to want to spend some focused, prayerful time planning out your next year of preaching. And as you do, consider including all three of these approaches.
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