The ultimate aim of preaching isn’t merely to educate or to inspire–it’s to produce actual life change. We preachers and pastors often speak of our desire to change the world, but changing the world always begins with changing one single life at a time.
If we preach to produce real, actual change in the life of one person, we will successfully produce change in many lives. And when many lives are changed, movements occur.
The question is, how can I preach to produce real life change?
No matter what you’ve learned or how you’ve thought about preaching in the past, there are several principles of preaching to produce life change you need to learn to master.
- Start with the end product in mind.
Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18 NIV). He gave us, in that Great Commission, a picture of an end product–disciples.
A disciple, in Jesus’ time, was a student–not just in a classroom, but one who lived life following the example of the teacher. Jesus’ disciples listened to his teachings, but they also traveled with him, watching him interact with others and live out his faith.
We must always have the end product in mind–disciples who learn from Jesus and follow His example in their daily lives.
- Discern the real intention of the author of the scriptures.
Whatever passage you may be presenting on any given weekend, the original author of that passage had a goal in mind in their writing. Understanding the intention of the author in their ancient context is what provides our starting point for the message.
In his book, Bible Study Methods, Pastor Rick Warren encourages readers of the Bible to use the acronym SPACEPETS to remember a set of questions to ask of every passage.
Is there any…
- Sin to confess?
- Promise to claim?
- Attitude to change?
- Command to obey?
- Example to follow?
- Prayer to pray?
- Error to avoid?
- Truth to believe?
- Something to praise God for?
Asking these kinds of questions of the scriptures we’re studying helps us arrive at the conclusions we ultimately hope our congregation will reach as they listen.
- Fill your sermon with ideas for application.
You can help people apply scriptural truth to their lives by offering practical examples for various scenarios people may finding themselves living through. Give people an idea of how a passage may relate to their personal life situation.
By doing this, you’ll be singling out a segment of the congregation that is unique while at the same time giving everyone confirmation that biblical truth is relevant to them right where they’re at.
If you’re a single mom, you can handle stress by…
If you’re struggling to forgive someone right now, you can start by…
If you’ve felt this pain lately in regards to your marriage, you can…
Such examples stimulate the thinking of your hearers and move them to lay the scriptures over their lives for instruction in their current circumstances.
- Turn your applications into the points of your message.
There is a big difference, in people’s minds, between telling them what King David did and telling them what they, as receivers of the message, should do.
Instead of having the points of your message merely state facts, let the actual applications become the points. To do this, you’ll need to expand your vocabulary of verbs–action words.
A traditional message outline might state the three things Peter did in response to persecution. A message designed to produce life change will use Peter’s story to outline three ways the modern hearer of the message can respond to persecution.
- Always issue one big call to action.
Andy Stanley has made famous the one-point style of preaching. Granted, you will still have multiple bullets to cover in any message, but the big positive take away from Andy’s method is that every message will ultimately need to call people to a single, big next step.
It’s been said that if you ask people to take two or more actions in response to a message, you may as well not ask them to take any action at all.
You must learn to focus your message and drive toward a single, big action to take. The more focus you give to this, the more powerful the effect of the change you will see.
And when you present this single call to action, be ultra-clear about how people are to take that action. If you’re asking people to live on mission, tell them to visit a table in the lobby for more information about missions. If you’re asking them to give, spell out for them the ways they can give online and in person.
Be clear. Be bold. Make the ask and make it plain how people can answer with their actions. By doing so, we’ll produce disciples who do more than listen–they’ll do what they’ve heard. And one at a time, we’ll change the world.
In Step 3 (of Voiceology), you’ll learn techniques and tactics for making every talk you give moving and memorable, so you can deliver your talk in the most compelling and emotionally engaging way.