I am firm believer that if you don’t feel it, you can’t teach it! The best definition I’ve heard of preaching is "Truth through a personality." So when I walk up to the front, I’ve go to feel like the message I have to share is absolutely dire for people to hear! Here are some things I think about before opening my mouth that maybe you’ll find helpful:
#1 – Do I really believe what I’m about to say? – Do I believe this message down to my bones? I can’t teach something just because someone else said and I like it. I have to believe it and it has to be part of me. I have to believe that it can work in someone else’s life before I share it in a message.
#2 – Am I living this? – If I’m not living it, then I don’t have the right to teach it. That’s why I never talked about honoring your body when it came to food. I totally agree with Perry Noble’s post about feeling the freedom to be able to share about any subject, including gluttony. I’ve lost almost 70 pounds in the last 6 months and I’ve never felt better! But more importantly, I feel I can be an example to my church in that area.
#3 – Does my tone express the urgency of the message? – Due to the fact that our church is in Miami, 1/2 of my staff speaks Spanish. But when one of us tells a joke in Spanish (B/c some things just don’t translate), what cracks me up is that even the non-Spanish speakers laugh! Why? B/c the tone gives it away. In the same way, my tone of voice should reflect the way I feel about the topic being discussed. There are times when I get up to share a message, that if for some reason I didn’t talk about it, I think I would spontaneously combust! Our disposition should show people that the message is important to us, and therefore, should be important to them!
#4 – Do the first 5 minutes the tell people why they are here? – Most introductions I write usually starts with something humorous, but then I hit them with the reason why it is critical they are there. I want to create a type of "Wow, am I glad I got out of bed this morning or I would have missed it!" experience…
#5 – Do I have a point here? – I believe every message I teach should be able to be condensed into 1 sentence. That is usually the main point of the message. If I can’t say it in 1 sentence, then the message isn’t even close to being done. Because for me when I mind-map (I mind-map every message), I create a circle in the middle of a large sheet of paper that has 1 statement inside it. That is my one point. Then I build the message based on the one point I have drawn out of the text I am teaching on. That way I have a visual picture that my messag can’t stray from the 1 thing I’m trying to say.
#6 – Is there enough Bible in the message? – I am not the authority on anything. I’m just a guy that teaches about someone who is the authority on everything. When I don’t have the Bible as the basis of my message, it sets me up as a spiritual version of Dr. Phil who just has some interesting thoughts about God. I hear and unfortunately have taught,messages that have too much other stuff and not enough Bible in them. I heard a message by a Pastor recently where there was not 1 verse mentioned. In fairness, while he mentioned the Bible itself a few times, he never cracked it open and read a verse. (I guess I’m just old fashioned like that)
#7 – Is this message built on an illustration or the Bible? – I don’t mean to be a stickler, but I believe there’s a difference. Illustrations are important, but they aren’t the main event. God’s word is what people need to hear, not my story about going to the mall. Now while the story of the being at the mall is important because it illustrates & puts "skin" on what the Bible says, I always start with a passage from the Bible that is what I’m teaching and the illustration helps the text. I never start with an illustration and try to find a Bible verse to support it.
#8 – Am I hitting the Funny Bone? – A little sugar helps the medicine go down. Some people are just too serious. Lighten up and let people know that you haven’t been baptized in lemon juice. But don’t over do it. I love using humor, but I have to be careful that I’m teaching and not doing stand up comedy!
#9 – Is my Message a "Christianese-free" zone? – Be careful with your "We need to be washed in the blood & sanctified in the spirit" sentences. While that may be true, it still honors God to say those things in a language that people understand. Saying, "God wants every person to enter into a relationship with His Son Jesus and for every Christian to grow in that relationship." Same idea, just no references to things many unchurched people don’t understand. If you have to use a theological word, no problem. Just EXPLAIN what it means! Don’t assume that everyone in your church knows who Melchizedek is. Give some background and make them a part of the story. Trust me, they’ll love it!
#10 – Do people "feel the love" when I talk? – It’s easy to share truth. It’s even easier to "Say what you mean and say it mean!" But it’s wisdom that teaches us how to share the truth, but share it in love (Eph. 4:15). Part of being a Pastor is that we share truth, but we also express God’s love and care for God’s people. But I want the people who attend or visit our church to know I love them enough to tell them the truth, and am willing to take the time to find the best way to say it so they understand that God loves them and I do too…