We will be offering this booklet, “Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!”, shortly as a downloadable pdf. We’ve looked at the following steps already: Step One was entitled “Do the Work!” Step Two was entitled “Develop a Clear Outline!” Step Three was entitled “Expository Versus Topical Messages!” Step Four was entitled “Begin with a Great Introduction!” Step Five was entitled “Illustrate. Illustrate. Illustrate!” Step Six was entitled “Vocal Variety!” Step Seven was entitled: “Use Technology!” Step Eight was on the issue of “Gestures!” Here is our Step Nine:
STEP NINE: LISTEN TO AND WATCH GOOD PREACHERS!
I love watching tennis on The Tennis Channel. My son-in-law is shocked that they have a whole channel devoted just to tennis. He is not a tennis player.
Why do I watch Raphael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic? It’s too late for me to become as good as they are in tennis. But I learn things as I watch them strike a cross-court topspin backhand or deftly lay a drop shot just over the net.
Excellent preachers are marked by certain characteristics, most of which we’ve tried to touch on in this booklet. They are well aware, as Walter Burghardt says in his book Preaching: The Art and the Craft, that “Life’s real enemy is not pain, not even death; life’s enemy is boredom.” They have excellent material and deliver it in attractive ways. As a friend of mine says, “Surely it must be a sin to bore God’s people with God’s Word.”
Pick a couple of preachers — they can even be TV preachers — and take notes on both their sermons and their presentation. What draws you to listen to them? What keeps you from changing channels? How are they encouraging involuntary listening in you?
One of my favorite preachers is Dr. John Ortberg of Meno Park Presbyterian Church in California. As a clinical psychologist, John peppers his sermons with secular studies on such issues as depression, cohabitation, and decision-making. His eye-contact is outstanding; his gestures complement his points. He is winsome and humorous and his messages are solid. I always learn something about living out the Christian life from John.
For years people have told me that my voice sounds just like Chuck Swindoll’s. I’m thinking about suing brother Chuck for impersonating me (just kidding). Swindoll is easy to listen to and his sermons are meaty and practical.
Bill Hybels encourages me to care more about lost people. He is not above shedding a genuine tear in his preaching. His practical illustrations and relevant application show why he is a favorite preacher for many.
My friend Stephen Brown (Key Life Network) is an outstanding communicator with a strong and deep voice. He has challenged me on many fronts, but I have been most affected by his wide use of illustrations.
You’re not trying to become the next John Ortberg, or Chuck Swindoll, or Bill Hybels, or Steve Brown. But you can learn from them. A lot. Become a student of those you respect and adapt their positive characteristics into your personality and style.