No matter what our gifts are, we should constantly work on developing them. That certainly includes those of us called to the work forming and equipping followers of Jesus Christ through the proclamation of God’s Word.
Unfortunately, too many people believe the old adage, “practice makes perfect.” I once heard John Maxwell say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent.” The reality is, you only improve if you are intentional about it, doing what you need to do in order to grow.
Recently, I’ve been feeling a discontent with my preaching (hopefully, a holy discontent). I will flesh this out in future posts.
In 2006, I read Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones, and then immediately switched from preaching multiple-point messages to one-point messages (even before I finished the book). That was the biggest transition I’ve ever made in ministry. My post on One-Point Preaching is the most visited post on this blog (it usually gets two to three times as much traffic as the second most popular post in any given month).
But with any approach it’s possible to get in a rut. Every so often, you have to shake things up (I often say, there’s always a better way). I’m not looking to change my approach from one-point preaching, but I am looking for ways to develop the approach and to develop the preaching gift in order to become a more effective communicator of God’s Word.
Here are five steps I’m taking to develop the preaching gift …
Improve sermon preparation. Mainly, I would like to get to the point where I am working on sermons for more than one week. This will mean juggling multiple sermons in varying stages of development (I’m not really sure how well I will be able to do this). I’m also working on revising 5 Stages of Sermon Preparation, which I hope to post in the next few days.
Listen to effective communicators. When I may listen to sermon podcasts, I listen to Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Ed Young, Mike Slaughter, Adam Hamilton, or Erwin McManus.
Listen to my own sermons. Actually, I don’t do this very much, but I know it’s something that all communicators ought to do. But I don’t really want to!
Review Communicating for a Change and improve my understanding and use of one-point preaching. Reviewing the book will also help me as I try to incorporate what I’m learning from other resources and approaches.
Learn from helpful resources on preaching/communication—books (some of which have been on my reading pile for a while) and audio/video material, including …
- Secrets of Dynamic Communication (Ken Davis). There’s also a DVD series, based on (4-day) Dynamic Communicators Conference (see site for other training tools).
- Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences (Nancy Duarte)
- Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently (John C. Maxwell)
- 360-Degree Leadership: Preaching to Transform Congregations (Michael J. Quicke)
- Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles (Walter Brueggemann)
- Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-first Century Listeners (Graham Johnston)
- Unleashing the Word: Preaching With Relevance, Purpose, and Passion (Adam Hamilton)
I just finished Davis’ Secrets of Dynamic Communication. I plan to post some takeaways as well as how it might fit into Stanley’s one-point preaching approach.
The next resource I’m looking forward to getting into is also the one that I learned about most recently—Duarte’s Resonate. I have extremely high hopes for this book. I think it will have huge implications for my preaching. I also think it will tie in nicely with the one-point preaching approach.
Well, these are some steps I’m taking to improve my preaching. What are you doing to develop the preaching gift?