How to Know When Your Preaching Is Disconnected
It happens. Sunday concludes, you’re in the car on the way home and you have that sinking feeling that something was amiss with the message. Maybe it was the glazed over looks you received as you peered over the pulpit into the congregation. Or perhaps it was the lack of feedback following the service. The delivery may not have been passionate, or you may have been distracted by an outside issue. Or perhaps it is just a “check” in your spirit. The sermon simply didn’t connect.
How do you adjust when it seems a sermon did make an impact on the listeners? Here are some practical questions and thoughts to consider as you look to tackle the issue of disconnected preaching.
Are you considering the spiritual needs of the congregation? Preparing to preach means looking at your congregation from a shepherding perspective. What do they need spiritually? What Christ-like characteristics are lacking? Are they a praying people? A serving people? Do they have a burden for the lost? If any of these are lacking when considering the congregation as a whole, is your preaching helping to grow them in that area? Or, perhaps the church has gone through a loss—a longtime member passed away, or a relative of a key family is in crisis. Preaching that does not take the heart-matters of the congregation into account can seem separated from the body of the church. Ask yourself as you prepare to preach, “Is this message something my congregation really needs? Am I strictly preaching what I want to preach, or what I need to preach?”
Are you over-engaged in church culture? Is the way in which you preach the gospel effective? Do you talk plainly and confidently to lost people, or if your preaching filled with churchy language and flourish that is lost on those who are far from God? Remember that non-believers are not connected to the church culture, and therefore are often non-responsive to church language. A portion of your role is to feed the believer, but not at the expense of never connecting to the non-believer. Ask yourself as you prepare to preach, “Would a non-believer get this? Have I included enough handles in my message for them to grab on to?”
Are you holding to the Bible text? It is so easy to move from preaching the Word to sharing an educated opinion that has nothing to do with the Word. I call these “diving board” sermons. The pastor starts with a Bible verse, then dives off the board from there, going point to point, but never really bringing the Word into the equation. A sermon separated from the Word of God will lack the power and authority that the Word brings to the message. There are many great speakers who can talk and tell stories that are very interesting, but hold no authority in the life of the believer because they fail to hold a foundation in the Word of God. Ask yourself as you prepare to preach, “Is this message firmly rooted and saturated with God’s Word? Do I return to the Word often enough throughout to help the listener understand and apply it to their life?”
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.