4 Ways To Improve Your Pastor’s Teaching

Bible Pulpit

Each week I spend between 5 and 10 hours preparing my sermon. On Sunday I deliver that sermon two times, once at 9am and once at 11. After each service a handful of people come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they appreciate my words. Most of the time they say, “good sermon” or “good word.” It makes me feel good to hear them say that. I’m not complaining about that.

A lot of times I will respond by asking, “what did you like about it?” or “what stood out to you?” Almost always they have no response. Sometimes they stammer and try to come up with something. They might say “well, it was funny” or “it was just good.” Rarely do they have compelling or helpful feedback. This usually leaves me feeling one of two ways. Either my sermons are just ear candy for people or, they don’t know what makes a sermon good.

If your pastor is like me, he/she need the encouragement. But if you want to give meaningful feedback I suggest you give better reasons for liking the sermon. Here are four principles to guide you.

The Sermon Was Biblical

Many young preachers today rarely crack a Bible when they preach. Or, if they do, they bounce around the text and backup their points. They may use a verse from the gospels, one from the Psalms, and finish up with something from the Epistles. If your pastor preaches from a text and allows the text to shape his/her sermon then you should explain why that is a good thing and how much it means to you. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

The Sermon Was Relatable

Expository preaching is good. But it’s also good to help a congregation find application points along the way. I call this “putting handles” on a sermon. A great sermon will help a person walk out the door and feel hope. This happens when pastor takes the time to find ways to challenge and encourage the listener. So if your pastor was able to build a bridge between the text and your life, make sure to tell them that you appreciate it. This is exactly what the apostle Paul wrote about in Ephesians 3:8-9 when he said, “this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”

The Sermon Was Short

I’ll just say it: we pastors love the sound of our own voices. It’s true. When I was a young preacher starting out I had a tendency to allow my sermons to reach 45 minutes or more. In my opinion this is longer than any sermon needs to be. There are no Biblical rules for how long a sermon should be. Paul preached a sermon that was so long a young man fell asleep–then out of a window! Modern audience get their information in small bites. Most people have trouble paying attention for more than 30 minutes. The reason why a lot of sermons are too long has nothing to do with good content. Sermons are too long due to a lack of preparation. A seasoned preacher will trim unnecessary parts from the sermon in order to deliver a well-crafted message that gets to the point quickly. Moses asked God to “teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12). If that is true of our days it is imperative of our minutes. If you appreciate a well-timed Biblical sermon tell your pastor, “thank you.”

The Sermon Was Convicting

People need to be challenged by a sermon – they like to be “beaten up” a little by the text. This is exactly what James had in mind when he described the Bible being like a mirror (James 1:23). A good teacher will hold the mirror of the scriptures up to the congregation. Many times that means he/she might have to bruise some egos and step on a few toes. If you feel convicted during a sermon let the Pastor know. It means that their teaching was a vehicle for the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Your pastor appreciates the feedback – both good and bad. Make sure your feedback is specific. That way your pastor will be able to get a sense of how to stay on track from week to week.

The Sheep Have Teeth

 

“I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among man-eating beasts, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.”

Psalm 57:4

Before he was the leader of Israel, David penned a lot of lyrics like this one. Reading the whole psalm you would think he was being hunted by an opposing army, but interestingly enough he was being hotly pursued by his own king, a man named Saul.

Both men are military leaders, both are Israelites, and both worship the same God – can’t we just get along?

Sheep

Photo by Ariana Prestes, http://arianaprestes.blogspot.com.br/

It always surprises me how quickly Christians can turn on one another. If something doesn’t go our way or if someone says something that offends us we become angry and  vitriolic towards those that Christ has commanded us to love. Though we are sheep of the same fold, we certainly have teeth and we don’t hesitate to use them to get our point across in a disagreement. Though no longer utilizing “spears and arrows” we prefer a more subtle approach to our man-eating; Emails, Facebook, and Twitter for example. Verbal violence is never a good solution to a disagreement or quarrel. In the beginning of the chapter David models the perfect response for someone who feels attacked. “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings…” (Psalm 57:1)

David never returned insult for insult (1 Peter 3:9) but instead petitioned God for healing. Even when he was attacked on every side by his countrymen enemies he was able to praise God. May we follow his lead and turn to God whenever we feel attacked.

Three Steps To Giving Great Announcements

You might think this is silly but it’s not. People are getting up in front of congregations across America every week and boring the you-know-what-out of people with announcements. There they stand, droning on about some event or meeting at the church, while the average attender wonders when the madness will end. So, here are my suggestions for giving great announcements:

Direct the Announcement at Specific Group of People

Chances are that whatever you are saying is only for a sub-section of the people that you are addressing. So, before you start the announcement, get the attention of the people that matter. For example, if the announcement is just for teens then say, “hey students, I want to tell you about….” or if it is for new people you can say, “if you are new then I have some exciting information for you..” The reality is that people are bombarded with information almost all the time and this gives the rest of your audience (the ones to whom the announcement is not pertinent) permission to “turn-off” their brains for a second and absorb useless information. They won’t have to filter the information to find out if it’s necessary for them.

Give Details (but only what is absolutely essential)

Date, location, time, cost (if applicable) and possible an explanation of what will happen during the event (but only if it’s not obvious) are all that are important. For example, if you have a bowling event coming up you would say, “This Saturday we’ll meet at the Star Lanes at 6:30pm. Cost is just $5 per person.” Everyone knows what you’ll do at a bowling alley so there’s really no reason to tell people that you’ll be bowling. Additionally you may want to direct people to an optional source of information that contains expanded information regarding the event – such as a flyer, newsletter, bulletin, website, etc. But, if there is something about the event that would make it stand out then you can include that type of information in your announcement as well to generate some interest among your audience. For example, if you have an announcement about a picnic, most (if not all) people know about picnics – what happens, type of food, outdoors, etc., however, include details that set the event apart from others. You might say, “join us this Saturday for a picnic at Douglas Park around noon. We plan to have Beefy’s BBQ providing great ribs and we’ve also rented 3 jumphouses. It’s going to be a blast!”

Tell Them Why It’s Important

Most people have their schedules jammed packed with stuff already, therefore, it’s a good idea to tell them why they are interested instead of forcing people to come up with ideas on their own. For example, if you have a gathering for new people you would say, “this will be a great way for you to meet new people.” Or if you have a prayer group planned you could say, “you’ll definitely have a chance to connect with God on a deeper level.” Effectively, this is the REASON that people want to go to something or participate.