Effective Preaching

As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ we all have something in common, we publicly speak to people through preaching, teaching, and exhortation.

It has been said, “You can’t advertise a feast if there’s no food on the table.” Many times people don’t stay at a church because they aren’t being fed the Word of God!

Music and programs play an important role…but sheep must be fed.  Acts 20:28 says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  Jeremiah 3:15 says, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Today’s Church as a whole lacks the power of God.  Many have a form of godliness but are denying the power.  Churches that lack the power of God are a result of preachers who lack the power of God in their lives and preaching.  Isaiah 50:4 states, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”

What would Jesus preach to your church or Bible study group?  Are we giving people a word from God…from God’s Word?

Our greatest challenge as preachers is having a good balance in our preaching between law and grace…legalism and mercy. Many pulpits today are filled with modern day scribes and Pharisees.  Matthew 23:1-12 says, “Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that gathered with them.  The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s law.  You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses.  But be careful about following them.  They talk a good line, but they don’t live it.  They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior.  It’s all spit and polish veneer.” (MSG)

We are not called to make it hard for people to serve God by giving them rules, but to connect them with the grace of God through faith.  Paul said, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”  It’s not by following all the rules and trying to appear perfect before people. 

Are we letting the Holy Spirit dictate what we preach, and even how long or short we preach?  Or is it our notes we’ve prepared?  Brother Hagin used to say, “If you can’t give people something through your preaching and teaching…don’t take anything away from them.”  Meaning, our people should leave church feeling like they’ve heard from God, not feeling as though they have been beaten down.

Let’s not just teach people a lesson or sermon!  We cannot teach people if we have lost contact with them.  Let’s never forget we are shepherds. Shepherds live among the flock; they know where their sheep are and how they doing.  Proverbs 27:23 says, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” 

We shouldn’t use ministerial voices or try to imitate other ministers. Be yourself; be natural—no acting. If you want to act, get on Broadway!  Can you imagine Jesus putting on a professional preacher’s voice or trying to act like John the Baptist?  The Holy Spirit doesn’t anoint phoniness; God made us unique.  Preaching is truth coming through personalities!  Jesus was the most affective preacher of all time; He didn’t use gimmicks or hype or try to manipulate His audience.  Matthew 7:28-29 says, “And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, not as the scribes.” The scribes were full of the Word and clever in their delivery. But their words didn’t penetrate the hearts of the hearers; there was no anointing or authority behind them.  It’s the anointing that destroys yokes and removes burdens.  In Luke 24:32, Jesus' disciples said, “Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

My prayer for all ministers is that our words burn and penetrate the hearts of those who hear them.  What made the words of Jesus cause the disciple’s hearts to burn?  The anointing of the Holy Spirit did, not emotion or intellectualism, not hype or denominational training!

In order to win people’s hearts, we must speak from the heart; this calls for sincerity, which is the total opposite of being phony or unnatural.  In Acts 2:37, after Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, the scripture says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and said, what must we do?”  Also, in Acts 7:54 after Stephen’s message to the unbelieving Jews it says, “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart.”

Our personal testimonies are powerful vehicles that we can use to enforce our messages so that they reach the hearts of our listeners.  When you share what God has done for you it ministers to the hearts of people like nothing else.  Not just the testimonies of our successes, but also of our shortcomings that the Lord corrected us on and through His grace helped us to get right.  I believe that’s meeting people where they live! 

We should never allow ourselves to become isolated from the people we minister to.  Never stop praying for the people you minister to.  Your prayers allow God to sync your heart with where the people are; then the Holy Spirit will anoint your words and as you speak them they will cause the hearts of the people to burn, be pricked, and even be cut.

If the Word you preach hasn’t impacted you first, it won’t impact others.  But when it is real and alive in you, it will transfer the same to the people. 

This article is written by Pastor Keith Echols

Senior Pastor of Word of Faith in Philadelphia, PA