3 Warning Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Connecting (That You Might Not Be Expecting)

preaching Mar 22, 2023

Some sermons connect and some don't. That's true for all of us. But sometimes not connecting in our preaching can go from every now and again to becoming a trend.

So let's talk about it.

We spend hours upon hours in sermon prep and sermon writing. And then we get to the preaching moment and what happens?

It just feels off.

People's attention wanders.

They aren't tracking.

If your sermon were a train, they never got on it at the station.

But why?

It could be that a few of the following signs are manifesting in your preaching. So let's talk about it.

Warning Signs Your Sermon isn't Connecting

1. You have forgotten who you are.

Sometimes ministry can make you feel like a commodity. (Amen, anyone?!)

We can begin to believe that you are simply useful and valuable because of the work that you do. Our self-worth begins to wrap itself around our preaching and the praise (or lack thereof) of people.

When we let our identity become "pastor" or "minister" or "preacher" instead of beloved child of God, we slowly fade into passionless preaching.

And here's the interesting thing: our preaching gets better when we let go of "preacher" as the anchor of our identity.

Friend, before you are ever a preacher or pastor, you are:

  • a beloved chosen child of God
  • in Christ
  • a member of the body of Christ
  • a living stone being built up around the cornerstone
  • bought and paid for by Jesus
  • a new creation
  • united to Jesus
  • a citizen of heaven
  • an heir to the Kingdom

You know who you are. But maybe you needed to be reminded.

When your passion burns for Jesus, many things will happen. One of which is your preaching will connect. Why? Because you'll be better connected to the King.

Rest in Jesus. Don't rest in your ministry. Don't rest in your preaching. Don't rest in your leadership. Rest in the One who can give you rest. Rest in the One who redeemed you. Rest in Jesus.

2. You lack joy throughout the week.

One of the things I always pray for on a Sunday morning before I preach is to enjoy the act of preaching. "God, please give me joy" is a regular kind of thing for me to ask for on Sundays. But I recently noticed a couple things:

  • While I enjoy the preaching moment, I hadn't been enjoying all that led up to it.
  • I tend to ask God for joy on Sundays and no other day.

When I'm getting out of step with the Spirit, I can tell because my joy level is low. 

When I'm full of joy, it's contagious. And when I'm not, it's contagious. I don't hold things in well nor do I do moderation well. Full of joy? It pours over. Full of cynicism? It pours over.

I can see it in my family and in anyone else who is around me.

And the same is true for you.

I'm convinced that if we lack joy throughout the week, our preaching won't connect as well as it would if we were full of joy.

And the only way to be full of real, genuine joy is to be connected to the Vine. When my time with God lacks, so does my joy. When my awareness of the Spirit lacks, so does my joy.

So spend consistent time with God before you work on doing things for God. Let your connection to the Vine pour over into every area of your life--including your preaching.

3. You don't have any margin.

When we work all the time, the work we produce suffers from diminishing returns. When we work without rest, we hinder our work. When we work, work, work and don't play and rest, our health deteriorates.

In the same way, when we're always in sermon prep, our preaching will suffer because it's in the margin of life that the best connections are made. Boredom is needed to be more creative.

Here's something I'm having to reckon with that you might too: my busyness isn't really a season, it's a lifestyle. Or to say it more specifically, my busyness is a choice.

Just imagine:

How much better would your preaching be if you were anchored to your identity in Christ, full of joy, and living with margin?

How much better would your life be?

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