Ministry Hacks from Brandon Hilgemann & Dr. Lawrence Powell
Brandon Hilgemann of ProPreacher.com says:
There are a lot of ways that people try to preach sermons that stick. Some work, others don’t. But the best way is to learn from Jesus. His sermons were so memorable that we still remember them almost two thousand years later.
Here are just three examples that we can learn from Jesus:
1. Be Simple.
Jesus preached in simple and powerful statements. A great example is, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19).
Jesus spoke in simple ways to simple people. For the most part, it doesn’t take a college degree to understand Jesus’ teaching. Most of his concepts can be summarized in a single sentence.
A simple and memorable statement will have some artistic nature to it. They may rhyme, have alliteration, or be an interesting play on words.
For example I preached a sermon where the main idea was, “What would you do if you knew God was with you?”
I emphasized the rhyme of “do,” “knew,” and “you.”
Another simple point I have used is: “If you want your kids to follow Jesus every day of their lives, you need to make Jesus part of your everyday life.”
These crafted, simple statements are easy to remember and help your listeners carry the message with them when they leave the building.
If you can’t summarize your message in a single, simple sentence, you aren’t ready to preach it.
2. Be Shocking.
Jesus often used outrageous examples, exaggerations, or shocking statements to get people’s attention. These statements were not all meant to be taken literally, but they got the point across.
For example, Jesus didn’t mean that we literally have to rip out our eyes and amputate our hands for causing us to sin (Matthew 5:29-30). Otherwise, all Christians would be blind amputees.
Another great example from Jesus is when he said, “Blessed are the poor” (Matthew 5:3).
That must have caught his audience by surprise. People don’t associate being poor with being blessed. Most people think, “Blessed are the rich.”
Jesus said unexpected things that shocked people to help us all remember his point.
3. Be a Storyteller.
Jesus was a master storyteller. “He told them many things in parables” (Matthew 13:3).
Think about all of Jesus’ parables: The prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the lost sheep, the sower and the seeds, and more.Jesus knew how to weave a story to communicate his message in a memorable and powerful way.
Jesus could have said, “Love everyone like they are your neighbor.” Instead, he told the story of the good Samaritan.
Jesus could have said, “God wants to save all lost people.” Instead, he told the story of the lost sheep.
Jesus could have said, “Not everyone who hears my words will follow me.” Instead, he told the story of the sower.
People don’t always remember my sermons, but I am always surprised by how much they remember my stories.
Years after I tell a story and forgot that I ever shared it, people have reminded me of it.
Stories are powerful. The good ones stick with us the rest of our lives. Jesus knew this and used it to help us remember his teaching.
So here’s the bottom line: If you want to preach an unforgettable sermon, preach like Jesus.
Pastor Lawrence Powell of Agape Church in Rahway, NJ says:
1. Be an Active Student of the Word.
Be diligent in study so as to accurately preach and teach the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Study not just for a sermon but for personal growth and development. It’s vital that I feed myself first before trying to feed others. As in the case of air safety—in the event of cabin decompression put the oxygen mask on first before attempting to save someone else who needs assistance.
2. Pray, pray and pray again. E.M.
Bounds well said, “A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.”
3. Preach and teach in and out of season
—whether you feel like it or not, without fail and regardless of what’s going in our world (2 Timothy 4:2).
4. Communicate clearly.
Avoid language barriers. Don’t try to impress people with big words for the sake of displaying your intelligence. Break it down like Jesus.
5. Rely on the anointing.
Remember the anointing is necessary to destroy yokes (Isaiah 10:27). Preach with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power to strengthen the faith of people in the power of God (2 Corinthians 2:4-5). In others words, say and do the Word of God.
6. Keep it fresh and keep it real.
Make sure the message and presentation are relevant. I prayerfully consider what I should minister and then try to package the message creatively so as to increase recall, impact and transformation. For example, I once preached a message entitled, “It’s Not Right But It’s OK” based on the story of Joseph and his brothers. In my introduction after reading Genesis 45:7,8 and 50:20 I asked my audience to turn to someone and say…at which point I paused and they heard a loud recording of Whitney Houston singing, “It’s not right but it’s OK.” It was quite effective.
For several years now I’ve led a 6:30 am prayer call Monday through Friday where I put messages in prayer form to lead people in praying the Word and thereby reinforce messages delivered. Come up with similar ways to creatively increase retention, e.g. video clips, graphics, social media posts like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Brandon Hilgemann is a pastor, founder of ProPreacher.com, and author of Preaching Nuts & Bolts: Conquer Sermon Prep, Save Time, and Write Better Messages.
Dr. Lawrence Powell is the Senior Pastor of Agape Family Worship Center in Rahway, New Jersey. With over 26 years in ministry, Lawrence is transforming lives with his powerful, prolific and practical presentation of the Gospel. Thousands of families from across the tri-state region flock to Agape every week to experience warm fellowship, dynamic worship and anointed teaching.