What Happens After the Preacher Speaks

by Bill Denton

 "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14).

A few months ago I was invited to speak at a 20-something conference. I was driving north on Interstate 95 listening to a CD when I heard something totally deflating if you're a preacher by trade: "Studies indicate that we forget 95 percent of what we hear within three days."

And that's if your sermon was good!

—Mark Batterson, "Red Pill Preaching," www.preachingtoday.com

Batterson goes on in his article to talk about communication, and the importance of saying old things in new ways to better communicate and thus help people remember more.  That's a goal to which every communicator can relate.

It does bring to mind a very real concern for every preacher. If people so quickly forget so much of what they hear, then why did God choose this medium by which to communicate such important truths? Sometimes, we get bogged down in wondering about all the imponderables and forget that whether or not we understand everything, we can understand some things. Let's go for the understandable. Here are a couple of things you need to know.

Preachers stand in a long line of vital communicators. Though we hesitate to employ the word "prophet," the truth is that the main job of prophets was not to foretell the future, it was to deliver God's message to the people of their time. Preachers do that today. We deliver a message from God to people who need to hear what God says.

Don't pick on your preacher too much.  He doesn't have to be the most eloquent fellow around. He doesn't have to be the wittiest, or the smoothest. He doesn't even have to be the most excited or animated person you know. He doesn't even have to say what you like to hear or what you want to hear. He does have to be faithful to his job. He must tell you what God wants you to hear. That responsibility sometimes grates on both you and your preacher!

Sure, it helps if a preacher has developed an interesting delivery method. It helps if he's got at least a vague handle on the language, and is able to illustrate and word things in ways that make the message of God memorable. But, you won't find our modern concern with preaching methods, communication principles, etc., in the Bible. God leaves those up to us, I think. He's much more focused on what He wants us to know.

Next time your preacher stands up you listen up. At the heart of all he's doing there in the pulpit, is something vitally important to you. God has a message. The preacher is delivering it. What happens after that is your responsibility—the biggest responsibility in preaching.

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