Preaching is presenting. So I hone my craft by learning from other presenters.
Preaching, however, is far more important and urgent than presenting. Most presenters are selling something (a product, a subscription, themselves). When I preach, I’m not selling anything, I’m just point to Someone. The Holy Spirit does the selling work.
My message is far more critical than the message of any pitch artist, but I am communicating to people, just like every other pitch artist. So I hone my craft by learning from pitch artists.
6 Pitching Tips To Impress Any Audience is an article by Jon Levy. You can read the whole thing on your own, but I wanted to zero in on his second tip.
In a great pitch, the hero is your pitching audience–only they can save the day. Your idea is the tool that they will use to vanquish the enemy. Allow the story to play into their ego.
Stop making yourself out to be the hero, because it does not matter if you’re amazing. What matters is that they can use your knowledge, experience, strategy or product to save the day.
I think he’s partially helpful for preachers here. Stop making yourself out to be the hero, because it does not matter if you’re amazing.
We are absolutely not the hero of our presentation, however, neither is our audience. God should always be the hero of every sermon we preach. If we have a secondary hero, it can be the listener. It should never be the preacher.
Matt Chandler brilliantly made this point several years ago while preaching at Steven Furtick’s “Code:Orange” revival (watch it here).
Practically, this has a few implications for Sunday’s sermon.
- If the congregation leaves with a sense that they know me better than they did before, but they don’t know God better than they did before; I’ve failed.
- The wisdom which undergirds my sermon should come from God’s Word not my mind and the humor that spices up my sermon should be honoring to God, not me.
- If I use myself in an illustration, I should be the heel or the villain, not the hero. How can I expect my congregation to humbly approach the throne if I only speak of my virtues and never my vices or shortcomings?
- Those who hear my preach should be overwhelmed by God’s grace, not my eloquence.
I am not suggesting you not let your personality shine through. If God has given you the gift of teaching, use your gift to it’s fullest! But use it to point people to God, not back to yourself!