Ok, what does a church planter do once they have an audience...whether it is 1 or 1000...from a platform or over a coffee? Preparing a message gets mixed reviews with many ministry leaders. Some love it and others loathe it. The difference is in the stress level that arises over direction. We don’t want to get stale. We don’t want to be ‘Johnny One-Note’. We fear we may run out of material.
This all came to a head for me as I entered ministry. I served a Bible-Belt church where I preached 2-3 times per week and led at least two bible studies. Then there were frequent weddings, funerals and counseling and discipleship sessions. How can a person ever stay prepared with that much fresh and relevant content? It isn’t as if the Bible doesn’t have enough material…it is 807,361 words. It often seemed like there was too much…surely I needed a way to focus each message. Even now, as a Church Planter, it seems that much more important to be ‘on-point’ at any time I am given the gift of sharing from God’s Word.
For me, it was helpful to take a clue from Peter in Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, he stood up and began to preach. His audience had heard many fancy speeches before and they thought he was drunk. What would he do to bring home the message of The Gospel? Take a look at the scripture he delivers that day:
He Preached from the prophetic book of Joel Chapter 2 (in Acts 2:17-21). He preached the Gospel from an Old Testament prophets perspective.
He Preached from the Psalms with Psalm 16 (in Acts 2:25-28) and Psalm 110 (in Acts 2:34-35). He preached the Gospel from Psalms which is musical and wisdom literature.
With each text Peter quoted, he pointed to God’s Mighty work through Jesus. Then he made an appeal for men to repent and follow this Jesus whom he preached about.
That is how I found peace with the message/messages. I decided to preach The Gospel through all of scripture. The techniques would change. The illustrations would be designed differently. It didn’t matter though…I had my message. The Gospel would be enough. Now, I had some practical helps as well that I will offer here:
- Preachers over-complicate things sometimes. I can sure do it. A resource that has been very helpful to me is Andy Stanley’s book called ‘Communicating for a Change’. You may not agree with everything said but there are some powerful insights into how to communicate clearly and in a way that is remembered and applied.
- Preachers try and think like scholars. Don’t get me wrong, scholarly study is needed and rewarded but we often develop outlines that require scientific formula’s to decipher. In scientific terms, if you are planning to spend hours of scholarly study, we need to be less ‘scientific theory’ and more ‘applied science’.
- Preachers need clarity and focus. Turn on the TV to a news station and count how many different messages are going on at one time. We suffer from ‘info overload’. Your listeners likely engage with your message after days of overload. They need clear teaching that is focused on what can truly help them live a life as a follower of Jesus. Remove any bell and whistle that doesn’t enhance the clarity of the message.
- Preachers forget the awe of the message we carry. Our text is filled with the most powerful of all stories. It is filled with the greatest of all evidences. It is a life-changing message of a life-changing Savior that is offered to a people in need of changed lives. What an honor. Don’t forget the awesome nature of the message you carry!