The Challenges of Preaching

Preaching is not just the physical act of speaking publicly about the Word of God, but it is also a full-on battle in the spiritual realm. For this reason, preaching is hard work, and can often be mentally, spiritually and physically exhausting. Preaching also has many challenges which are not always obvious to the eye, so I would like to share what I have learnt about preaching so far. Please bear in mind that compared to seasoned pastors and ministers, I have relatively little experience in preaching, so what I have written here is by no means exhaustive, and as such I'll be updating this article as and when I learn new things about preaching.



Sermon Content

God works in different ways with different preachers. Each preacher has been given a unique gift in the way he/she preaches in order to accommodate for people of varying cultures and walks of life (not forgetting to mention that people are at different stages with God in their lives). In whatever way God works with you, here are some things to consider:
  • Learn to discern the message on which God would like you to preach. For some, God may reveal His message the week before the sermon, for others the day before, and yet others even on the same morning as the sermon is to be preached. For me personally, God reveals His messages during a course of a few months, usually through my sufferings. In applying His messages to my own life, I would often experience miracles and testimonies which I can then include in my sermon. In this way, I can also re-assure myself that what I have heard from God is authentic because I have proved it to work. 
  • A good sermon content should typically include both theory (information) and practice (testimonies). Sermons which include only theory could be perceived as lacking the element of "reality". The practical aspect of the sermon may not only cement the theory, but also helps to illustrate how that theory can be applied to everyday lives, to real life situations, and equally important - the results that it gives.
  • The average attention span for most adults is 45 minutes, so ensure that your sermon is not too long or you risk losing their interest. You do not want to be famous for doing long sermons as this will cause people to avoid going to your sermons. Ideally you want people to be excited about your sermons, so that not only would they turn up, but that they would actually be looking forward to listening to you.
  • Create an interesting title for your sermon, a title that arouses curiosity.
  • Ensure that your sermon is Biblical. In other words, make sure that the message of your sermon can be supported by Biblical scriptures. Recite them and refer to them.
  • Make your sermon interesting. Sermon involves a lot of talking, and too much of this can become very boring to those who listen. In order to make things more interesting, you may want to include some or all of the following:
  • Picture slides
  • Word slides (do not have too many words on each slide because people will be busy reading them instead of listening to what you are saying. Worse still - is to have many words on a slide and reading them out!  Word slides should be concise and used to illustrate important points to your audience "at a glance". They can also serve as "reminders" for you on what you should be speaking about).
  • Video clips
  • Sketches / Skits (short excerpts of theatre play)
  • Illustrations (using objects, whiteboard, etc)
  • Songs (with lyrics that are relevant to the sermon)
  • As mentioned earlier, include testimonies in your sermon if possible. This will not only help illustrate how to apply the message of the sermon to everyday life, but that it actually works!   Share your testimonies as well as other people's testimonies (with their permission). People may not remember the theory in your sermons, but they will remember the testimonies. Testimonies are also a good source of encouragement because they are real, true stories. Giving your testimonies help people to relate to your message because they can see you: you are real to them, it happened to you.