When I was in Bible college, I was taught the same basic sermon preparation methods that thousands of other preachers have learned. It’s a linear outline that usually begins with a major proposition, continues with several major points, each supported with explanatory illustrations and then a conclusion that summarizes the truths presented. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but my tendency too often is to rely on what I know.
This past Sunday, my wife sat and listened to the message, so I asked her how it went and she offered plenty of encouragement along with a question about why I had chosen a particular illustration that was a little trite and impersonal rather than a life experience we had endured that illustrated the point much more personally. Ultimately, it was easier for me to stay away from the deep, personal story that would have better connected with the audience and play it safe with something more light-hearted. Hence, I missed a great opportunity.
The message was about waiting on God’s “yes” to a prayer while He grows us. I could have shared about our long battle with infertility during which we experienced two miscarriages (one ectopic) and drove four hours round-trip to Tulsa about 40 times seeing a specialist. We endured some rather rough times, but we grew spiritually and God eventually gave us the desire of our hearts. Had I shared this story, my audience would have felt the truth I was explaining, and some might have even personally identified with the experience. Our conversation served as a powerful reminder to me of the value of getting personal with the audience.
If you want to preach more powerfully…
- Get personal – unveil your life and let the crowd into your heart and your experiences.
- Be specific – it’s easier to give a broad challenge, but more beneficial to ask for a particular response.
- Tell stories – people like them more than quotes, statistics, and abstract analogies any day.
It’s tough to get personal, but worth it as it moves people into greater intimacy with Jesus.