We love to listen to dynamic preachers preach on any topic. Though they preach long, it’s just like a short time. But, if the preaching is tedious or boring, we are not interested in listening. If the preaching is not effective, short sermon seems like a long one. So, a preacher wants to preach effectively and the listeners want to listen to interesting and effective sermons. But, how do we make our preaching effective? Obviously, all cannot be good preachers. Some do not have the gift of preaching. So, we are wrong if we expect and say that all the servants of God should know how to preach well.
Nevertheless, as our gifts and talents can be developed, our skills in preaching too can be developed. It needs experience and time. Many say that knowledge is the foremost thing we have to have to make our preaching effective, but it may not be, for there are other important elements.
Significantly, if we want to be a good preacher, one of the most important things is to transform our life and live an exemplary life.
If we do not walk the talk, listeners will talk about our words and do not follow. How we live and act will reflect our sermon. So, if our desire to preach effective sermon is strong, our desire to change our life and live a good life must be also strong. If our life is not good, though we preach very well, it will not have much effect on the life of the listeners. Therefore, we have to live out and preach the Word of God.
When we talk about effectiveness, it is extremely important to know that, preaching the Word of God is not giving information. In fact, it is important to read commentaries and other books, but we should not solely depend on them and preach. Many tend to gather lots of information from different resources and preach without seriously pondering how it will relate to the congregation. When a preacher extract lot of knowledge from books and simply deliver a sermon, it become just like giving information. Moreover, if we do not read, understand and speak with our own words, there are high chances that sermon is more complicated and uninteresting. The simple reason is that, the writers have written in written English, and as a result, if we speak out exactly what’s written, it’s not very interesting and effective. Thus, we need to speak in spoken English. When we say that we should not fully depend on books for preaching, it means that, we should think. The intensity of our passion in preaching is reflected well in how enthusiastic we are in thinking, and how much time we take in contemplation. I don’t mean that we have to be very deep, so that, the delivery of our sermon has to be critical. But we need to think, what does the Scripture really says, how the people are living, what they think, and how our sermon can relate to the context or life situation of the people. It is imperative for the preachers.
And, one of the most important elements in making our sermon effective is prayer. I have experienced many times that, the more earnestly I pray, delivery of my sermon become more effective. I usually don’t pray long, but I pray short for several times, especially when I know the time of preaching well ahead of time. Many good preachers testified that the secret of their success in preaching is prayer. For me, preaching without the power of God is one of the heaviest things.
I know the presence of God when I stand in front of the congregation. If the presence of the power of God is less, I realize that I have prayed less. However, when I feel that the presence of the power of God is strong, I remember the times I prayed earnestly. I have also experienced that, when believers pray for me, the presence of the Spirit and His power was manifested more in me and I preached His Word more effectively. Once, a man, by seeing and hearing Billy Graham’s effective delivery of sermons, asked him how he could do. But, Billy didn’t answer immediately, but took him to a house. When the door was opened, there were many inside – they were the ones who pray for Billy, for his sermons and ministry. Billy pointed at them and told him that, it was through their prayers he could preach and change the lives of people. In fact, prayer works. Remember, even our Lord Jesus Christ, prayed for His ministry earnestly. If you want to be a good preacher, there’s no other way but pray.
From my experience, I have learnt that, making personal rules before preaching helps me immensely. Normally, before I go to Church or Chapel, I write down some rules of preaching. This is not to make the preaching complicated. In fact it should be simple. But making certain rules remind me of certain essential things. I write down rules such as, Trust in the Lord! Remember that you are preaching for God, not for you! Be humble and confident! Have a good eye-contact! Don’t speak the whole sermon with monotonous voice! Use appropriate actions, and so on. Surely this is not for everyone to follow, but you can try if you think it’s interesting.
I have also realized that, though we have rich knowledge and lots of ideas in delivering the sermon, but if we preach without the Spirit of God, it is not effective. I find that many are very much concerned about impression, but do not consider much on impact. I don’t mean that impressing others is not good or unnecessary, but if we fail to make an impact, it will not work well in our life, in the long run, particularly. Impact will come through some supernatural powers, and it actually comes from God, Almighty. So to make our delivery of sermon effective, there is no other way, but to fear God, live a good life and trust in Him. Preaching the Word of God without the power of God cannot affect lives and the effect will be – change of words and appearance, not heart and life.