This headline on Barna’s site caught my attention: “49% of U.S. pastors say the preaching at their church is ‘strong’.” Two quick observations about strong preaching before we address the content.
- They asked pastors if they believed THEIR preaching was strong. I don’t know about you, but I’m the worst evaluator of myself. Asking pastors how they feel about their preaching seems like an odd sample.
- More alarming, only 49% of pastors believe they have strong preaching! That’s the worst part. If we surveyed the congregations in their churches, I suspect that number wouldn’t be higher. Odds are 49% is an exaggerated metric of success.
The question is what can be done about this? How can pastors who feel they aren’t strong in the pulpit get stronger, and how can the pastors who wrongfully evaluate their strength improve?
The secret to strong preaching is found in the purpose of preaching.
Let’s start with this question:
Ask 10 pastors, and you might get 10 different answers. But, ask a typical congregant, and I wonder what you’d hear.
From my years leading in the church and hearing a lot of sermons, I’m not sure pastors see sermon success in the same way as their congregation.
Pastors tend to major in the details: theology, hermeneutics, exegesis, original languages, and plenty of conviction. You see this all around the church world.
I have no research to back up what I’m about to say, but I’ll say it anyway. I suspect attendees are much more concerned with improving their lives than understanding Greek or Hebrew.
Digging below “a better life,” what people want is peace. They want hope and help in the areas that create stress.
Information alone is relatively unhelpful. But it is the first step to giving people what they want and need.