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Only You Can Stop Boring Preaching

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Holly, a 7-year-old in a church I pastored, turned to her mother in the middle of my sermon and said, “Mother, why does Doctor Joe think we need this information?” Every preacher should have such a child listening to every sermon and giving such feedback. What boring preaching does–without exception–is answer questions which no one is asking.

It may do more things than this–dead oratory violates a thousand sound principles–but put it down in huge letters, pastor: the sermon which is sedating your congregation is seen as completely irrelevant to them.

Whether it is or not is another matter.

How Preachers Can Stop Boring Preaching

“Then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Luke 10:25) My job as the pastor may mean making my audience see that this subject is one they should be dealing with and asking questions about.

On an airline flight, passengers ignore the instructions of the attendant as she talks about the use of the seat cushion as flotation device or how to inflate the life vests. If however, at 30,000 feet the pilot announces the loss of an engine and the attendant begins to give instructions, she will have the clear and undivided attention of her audience.

One reason for the pastor previewing the sermon with his spouse and/or children is that invariably one among them can be counted on to ask, “What is your point?”  “What is this about?”  Or, as Holly put it, “Why do we need to know this?”

In Scripture, we get the impression that Jesus’ best preaching was done on the spur of the moment as a result of questions.

–“Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) From this, we have the unforgettable story of the good Samaritan.

– “Why do you receive sinners and eat with them?” (Luke 15:1ff) This charge gave the Lord an audience for His parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost boy (Prodigal Son).

– “Lord, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel? What will be the sign of your coming and of the end?” (Matthew 24:1ff.) As a result of these questions, we have lengthy explanations as to the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Lord’s return.

– “Why do your disciples not fast?” (Matthew 9:14) This gave us the teachings of new-patches-on-old-garments and new-wine-in-old-wineskins.