How’s everyone doing today? That’s a terrible way to begin a blog post. It’s also a terrible way to begin a sermon, but many of us are guilty of it or some variation of it. We normally get a weak response, and so we ask everyone the same question again until we’re satisfied.
When you begin your sermon this way, here’s what happens, you let the audience control the energy in the room, which is almost always a terrible idea. Once you lose energy, it’s very hard to regain it.
I learned that tip from the comedian, Roseanne. She didn’t say it to me personally. She was on television giving another comedian advice, but it made so much sense.
So, I started thinking about other things preachers do to kill their presentation.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
- Weak Openings
We’ve already talked about, “How are you doing?” You also shouldn’t open with, “How about this weather?” If you’re going to open with a question, make sure it creates some tension around what you’re about to talk about. There’s no need for small talk. You have a short period of time to grab their attention, and if you don’t get it on the front end, chances are slim that you will win them back.
- Weak Closings
Long, drawn-out closings are the worst, especially if you’re already preaching more than 35-40 minutes. People’s attention spans are getting shorter all the time. If you take too long to close, you’ll lose them. A good closing should summarize your talk while also giving an applicable next step. That’s it.
- Too Much Information
The more focused your sermon, the better. Ten Ways to Become a Better Christ Follower may sound like a great sermon idea, but there’s no way anyone will ever remember them all. The best sermons focus on one single memorable idea or thought. If you have more you want to say than will fit into a single sermon, consider making it a series.
- Too Boring
This can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it can be the tone and cadence of your voice. Other times it can be that your subject matter doesn’t appeal to people. Pastors are notorious for preaching on topics that the average person cares nothing about. People are struggling with addictions, how to raise kids in the changing culture, and how to love their spouse. They don’t care that you know the difference between the Latin and Greek.
- Too Distracting
This can also be caused by a variety of reasons. A lot of small town churches love having children be a part of the worship service. While I understand the sentiment, I also know that many people will be distracted because of this. Are you ok with that? Other distractions can be caused by repetitive hand gestures, sloppy dress, profuse sweating, you get the idea.
The good news is all of these issues can be fixed, except maybe the profuse sweating. You just have to be willing to listen to constructive criticism, or even better, film yourself and watch it.
I know it can be painful, but you know what they say, “No pain, no gain”.
What would you add to this list? Let us know by leaving a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get updates on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.