Archives For Preaching

I entered pastoral ministry in 1986, and I’ve experimented relentlessly with preaching forms and techniques for nearly three decades. Preaching today is both more interesting and more challenging than ever before.

Though much of my speaking has been in the pulpit, I’ve also done a good bit of presenting in classrooms, at conferences and retreats, and in business settings. For the first 13 years of my ministry, I delivered three different messages a week. I still preach before a live audience almost every single week.

Preacher and Congregation

Over the years I learned many lessons on how to improve preaching, and the most important one is this: If you want to boost your impact on an audience, preach without notes.

That sounds daunting, I know, and perhaps you think it unnecessary. But I believe you should give it a try. Here’s why.

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Al though there are several preaching styles, nearly all sermons these days fall into two broad categories: textual and topical. Given that numbing lack of variety in form, it is no wonder many congregations (and not a few preachers) have grown bored with the sermon as the centerpiece of Protestant worship.

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Perhaps it is time to recover two elements that were once hallmarks of great preaching: imagination and  creativity. 

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Preaching has been the central element in most Protestant worship services for over 500 years. It’s the main thing pastors do, in terms of time consumption. Yet remarkably few pastors have a strong sense of identity as a preacher.

Pastor

Not every pastor approaches the task of preaching in the same way. There are at least four distinct approaches to the pulpit.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known as a civil rights leader and as a great orator. His iconic speech, “I Have a Dream,” is one of the greatest pieces of oratory in American history.

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Yet before he was either a civil rights leader or orator, King was a preacher. He was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., and preached widely in other pulpits.

Today’s pastors can learn a great deal from King, the preacher.

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