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Six Pieces of Advice for Preachers

January 12, 2015

In her book The Great American Sermon Survey, Lori Carrell asks a group of listeners, “If you could get one message across to all preachers in the United States, what would it be?” The answers that she gets can be grouped into six sections:Listeners’ Advice for Preachers (picture)

 

1. “Make the message relevant and meaningful” (36%).

  • “I keep hearing about pro-life issues; there is no mention of how we can show Christ’s compassion in practical ways…”
  • “We get mostly nice little talks about what we should or shouldn’t do; most are superficial and bland.”
  • “We put a lot of stock in what you say. Be sure it’s biblical and God-directed.”

2. “Improve your relationships with listeners” (17%).

  • “Be real.”
  • “Get along.”
  • “Don’t show favoritism.”
  • “Get to know us and let us know you.”
  • “Be a real person in front of your congregation.”
  • “Don’t try to appear perfect and unable to make a mistake…”
  • “It’s easier to relate to a pastor who is ‘more like everyone else’ than someone who is very reserved and aloof.”
  • “Show your human side. We all look up to you but want to know that you also share the same thoughts and feelings as us.”
  • “Know your congregation—individually and as a group.”

3. “Attend to your own spiritual life” (17%).

  • “Be a model of a deeply spiritual person.”
  • “Pray more.”
  • “Don’t neglect your family.”
  • “Check your motives.”
  • “Preachers, you need a close relationship with God to be effective.”
  • “Work on your own spiritual life. It shows.”

4. “Get your sermons organized” (15%).

  • “Preachers, know your main point so we can too.”
  • “Do your research.”
  • “Use a variety of organizational strategies.”
  • “Make the message clear, simple, interesting…”
  • “Don’t harp on a subject over and over. Make your point and go on.”
  • “Usually there is too much to digest at one sitting.”
  • “Save those other points for another sermon.”
  • “Sometimes they start off well and then get lost or off target. Many miss the mark and I wonder what the speaker is trying to say. I wonder how much they prepared.”

5. “Work on your sermon delivery” (9%).

  • “Why doesn’t he know how regular people talk? He’s just trying to show us how much smarter and more spiritual he is.”
  • “Talk on a level everyone can understand.”
  • “Don’t talk down to your congregation, but also don’t talk way over our heads.”
  • “I can read too. If you’re just going to mumble through a manuscript, make copies to hand out and skip the sermon.”

6. “We appreciate your work” (5%).

  • “Thank you.”
  • “Don’t ever quit.”
  • “You make a difference.”
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