The most difficult task when preparing a sermon is knowing what NOT to say.
Almost every week, more of my study material is left out of the sermon than makes it in. I ruthlessly cut and trim because I want to sharpen the main point of the message.
I recently read a tweet from @JoshWeidmann. He quoted H.B. Charles , “People don’t want to know the details of the recipe, they just want to smell the fresh baked bread.” My pre-sermon study discoveries are the flour and the eggs and the yeast and whatever else you put into your bread (raisins maybe). The sermon is what comes out of the oven.
I came across this article at Fast Company recently. The author, Judith Humphrey, writes this:
Streamline your thinking down to a single, essential idea–the point you want your audience to buy into. Sometimes speakers have too many ideas, or else they have no idea what they’re trying to say. Too many ideas or no idea–both produce the same thing: confusion.
If I can’t identify my main point before I stand up to preach, I am likely to do my listeners the great disservice of confusing them with my words instead of pointing them to His Words.
Humphrey suggests five criteria by which to evaluate your message before you speak. If your message meets all five, you are ready to present a clear and compelling concept which will hopefully lead to action.
- It’s one idea
- You can express it in a single, clear sentence
- It’s engaging
- It carries your convictions
- It’s positive
Her five criteria all apply to sermons as well. Checking your message against this list may help you bake just the right sermon for next Sunday.