10 Tips for Preaching Better Quality SermonsOct 23, 2023
Frank isn’t new to preaching. He’s been laboring in this unique work for over a decade.
But Frank has recently had a stirring in his heart to make some improvements in his preaching.
So what does he do? He opens a new tab in his web browser and googles “tips for preaching better.”
This article is for Frank – and preachers like him.
When I’m coaching others on their preaching, I like to take notes on things they’re doing well and areas they can make improvements in.
In this article, I’m going to share some of the top/most frequent reflections I’ve made when observing other preachers preach sermons.
10 Tips for Preaching Better Quality Sermons
1. Prepare extensively
There is no substitution for extensive sermon preparation. You need a system for sermon preparation – a repeatable process that facilitates a quality sermon every single time.
Because a prepared preacher preaching the word of God is a powerful weapon in the Holy Spirit’s hands to do battle with the principalities and powers in this dark age that wage war against people’s souls.
2. Trust that you can preach your message without your notes
The way you deliver your sermon shows your level of confidence in what God has done in you through your time of preparation.
Read that sentence again.
Unless you’re brand new to preaching and are still working to get over the fear of standing in front of a congregation, your delivery should be free, expressive, and aligned with your passion flowing through your personality.
When you’ve prepared extensively and you are stepping into the preaching moment, look up from those notes and remember the sermon isn’t on those pieces of paper or on the tablet’s screen, it’s what you proclaim. Those are just the notes to serve you as you proclaim God’s word. You’re not there to serve your notes.
So stand up. Look your people in the eye. And tell them all that God wants you to tell them.
3. Say what you’re going to say with conviction
This doesn’t require you to put grandiose emphasis on every word or to manipulate your voice in a way that is unnatural to you.
But the preaching moment is not the time to be timid. Stand up straight. And speak with conviction. Speak like you believe what you’re saying. Better yet, say what you believe to be true. And say it with all of you heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Before you say your first word at the pulpit, ask the Lord to give you joy, passion, a fire burning inside of your soul, and love for the people you’re about to speak to.
And then preach like He answered that prayer.
When you’re done preaching, you should feel tired. Because you gave all that you had.
4. In the first five minutes, point to The Desperately Urgent Matter
Before you get to the text, get to The Desperately Urgent Matter (TDUM) that the Scriptures are going to address.
Give people the why for leaning in before you expect them to lean in. After all, don’t you want them leaning in and deeply desiring to hear the power of the Scriptures when you begin reading the biblical passage?
Some will have that level of hunger no matter the passage. Others will need to smell dinner cooking before they realize how hungry they really are.
And then keep that TDUM in your pocket. You’ll need it later when you’re exhorting them to obey the Scriptures.
5. Preach to people who are progressing and to people who are stuck
98% of communication is knowing your audience. The other half is knowing what you want to say to them (and how to best say it to them).
Ignore the math, it checks out. But don’t ask me for the equation.
But seriously, when you’re preaching don’t assume that your entire congregation is making progress in their walk with the Lord. And at the same time, don’t assume that your entire congregation is stuck.
Some are progressing. Some are stuck.
So make sure you speak to both segments.
6. Make sure your illustrations are relevant to your audience
Remember what I said about knowing your audience? This is especially true when it comes to the illustrations you give.
If you’re preaching to a congregation of people dramatically younger than you, it’s going to take extra work to mine for relevant illustrations. The same is the case if the opposite is true.
The illustrations you give when preaching are for them, not you.
7. Smile more
Don’t smile all the time. That’s creepy.
But you would probably do well to smile more often. In life. And in your preaching.
Smiling is contagious.
Now, obviously, pick your moments. Don’t smile when you’re talking about something that is sad.
But when you’re talking about the work of Jesus and the implications of the gospel? Smile when you proclaim good news.
8. When you’re teaching, spend more time specifying and distinguishing
If you’re not careful, your sermon can become an abstract painting quite quickly. But that’s not very helpful.
Instead, when you’re exegeting the text and connecting it to life, get specific on what the text is saying and what it’s not.
It’s truly the difference between average preaching and powerful preaching.
9. Your sermon needs a rhythm of engagement
Don’t go too long without pulling out another illustration to show what you’re saying.
In the same way, don’t go too long without pulling at a tension string again.
A rhythm of engagement keeps the sermon moving forward and progressing somewhere while also ensuring that the majority of people are still on the journey with you.
This is why I teach the Sticky Sermon Structure.
10. Bring people to a moment of choice
At the end of your message, don’t just tie a nice bow on it.
Instead, bring people to a moment of choice. But how?
By bringing back up The Desperately Urgent Matter (TDUM) and then urge them to act or believe in a certain way. Because urgency is only useful if they have agency in some way.
And a good sermon? It’s equipping them with a new frame to see the world through, a new story to live in light of, and urging them toward application.
Grow Your Preaching
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!
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