by Torrey Brinkley
Long before he retired, our late homiletics professor lamented to us seminary students that he really hated listening to sermons (especially by seminarians). Having to stay awake during thousands of interminably long messages might do that to even the dearest of saints.
While not one given to criticizing fellow brothers during/after the delivery of their messages, this writer was motivated to respond after listening to an Easter message by a community pastor (no bulletins so don't even know his name or background) at a joint service held in a large auditorium.
Maybe these points are something you could use in future message preparation and delivery. Pretend they come from your homiletics professor who cares for you.
• Talk to me (not to your notes, or a spot on the wall, or to some hypothetical straw man you've created)!
• Speak to the children in the audience and/or the teens. You will also reach the adults more effectively.
• Ask me questions-good ones that require some deep thought on my part. It will work better if we're all doing some work here.
• Tell me something I don't know. Dig for information and be creative. Don't assume a message is too complex for me.
• Convince me that I should listen some more. After all, you have the floor for another 15 minutes.
• While notes may be appropriate or needed, please don't present your message as if you are simply reading it to me. A young man who worked with us overseas came back to the States and delivered every message in his church from memory (no notes at all)!
• If you quote other Scripture (besides the main text), make me want to go there, too. Whet my appetite for further study at home.
• If you will change your voice, your pace, your inflection, that will go a long way in keeping my interest.
• What are the best possible illustrations you can find to reinforce your message? Challenge yourself each week to do better and better. As you are challenged and improved, so am I.
• What is the main point you are trying to tell us? How many ways can you re-word it, emphasize it, and show us how it applies to our lives?
When your listeners hear and understand the message, they won't go home asking "And your point was?"