Thom Rainer recently did an ‘unscientific’ research (as he called it) into how much time pastors take to prepare one sermon. The results were fascinating, but I don’t want to reveal them just yet because they might influence the voting in the poll I’d like you to participate in first.
There have been some serious floods in our area a few weeks ago due to heavy rainfall. Luckily the small village where we live is on a hill, so we escaped damage, but many towns around us have been flooded as rivers rose too high.
This weekend, we were confronted with an unexpected result of the flooding: our drink water has been contaminated as the sewer system couldn’t handle this much water. We can’t consume our water without boiling it first.
It’s a bit of a hassle that makes you appreciate the necessity of clean drinking water, that first and foremost. But it also made me ponder the importance of reliability.
I’ve always trusted our drinking water, trusted that it was safe, healthy and good for me. After this, that trust is somewhat damaged, although the water company did a great job in being open and honest and warning everyone about what’s going on.
When I saw Tony Campolo was leading a preaching master class on the early day of the Youth Work Summit, I immediately booked this stream. He’s a brilliant communicator and I was pretty stoked to be able to spend a whole day learning from him. And I have to say: he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, sharp, and wise and I could have listened to him for hours more. Let me share some of the highlights of what he taught that day: 10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo himself.
1. Make sure you have the gift
Speaking, preaching, teaching, whatever you want to call it: it’s a gift. You need to have this gift if you want to have an impact. Churches are dying because their pastors don’t have the gift of teaching, so make sure you have a call and a gift to preach.
2. Prepare physically
This is something Tony Campolo could speak on with authority, considering he’s in his seventies and still going strong. He stressed the need to be physically fit, to eat well and keep yourself in shape to be able to keep going.
It’s a great promise and an encouragement for youth leaders who are trying to reach students with God’s words. But it’s also one of those promises that can cover a multitude of sins. Our sins in bad, lazy teaching for instance. Our sins in not building deep and true relationships with the students we minister to. Or our sins in failing to apply what we teach in our own lives.
[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth] The content of a sermon always trumps style and delivery. If the content is bad, vague or unfocused, all the rhetoric means in the world can’t make up for it (though they can obscure the bad content a little bit). But a bad delivery can let great content go to waste, especially when preaching for youth.
Young people won’t keep listening to a sermon that’s boring or unattractive, even if the content is awesome. We may not like that, we may even judge them for it, but it’s a reality. If you want young people to listen to what you have to say, you have to spend as much time on your delivery, on your rhetoric, as on your content. Continue reading 7 elements of an attractive sermon delivery
[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth]. It’s a question that haunts many public speakers: what to do with your hands while you’re talking or preaching? For some using their hands comes very natural, but for others this really is an area where they need to practice. So let’s have a look at using your hands effectively when preaching.
The most important advice is this: do what comes natural to you. I’m an active person by nature, I can’t sit still and I use a lot of gestures when I talk with someone. That means I do sort of the same when I preach, though I do tone it down for the sake of the audience. My point is that you need to use your hands in a way that’s natural to you. Continue reading What to do with your hands when you’re preaching
I saw this really interesting TED talk on the Youth Ministry Geek site and wanted to say a few words about it. It’s a talk by communication Nancy Duarte on the ‘Secret structure of great talks’. Nancy Duarte starts with pointing out that we have the power to change the world with our ideas, but that it comes down to communicating our ideas the right way.
She has analyzed great speeches to find out what the underlying structure was and has found a ‘secret structure’ that all these talks have in common. It turns out it’s about painting a vivid picture of what is and what could be, of making the status quo unappealing and selling your idea to change it. She shows analyses of Steve Job’s iPhone speech of 2007 and Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’, both of which show that pattern of going back and forth between what is and what could be. Continue reading The secret structure of great talks
[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth] An important element of preaching is your tone. It’s hard to define, but with tone I mean the overall feel and mood of your sermon. It’s how a sermon comes across, what emotions it radiates and invokes in the audience.
Here are some words you could use to describe the tone of a sermon (it’s by no means an exhaustive list, it’s just meant to give you some examples of tone):
[This post is part of the Preaching for Youth series]. Paragraphs are the building blocks of any written material, including sermons. While you can’t actually hear the paragraphs when you listen to a sermon, they should still be there. Understanding how paragraphs function and utilizing them effectively, can help you structure your sermon better:
It will trigger you to come up with beautiful and functional transitions
Let’s start with determining what a paragraph is:
A distinct division of written or printed matter that begins on a new, usually indented line, consists of one or more sentences, and typically deals with a single thought or topic or quotes one speaker’s continuous words.
In short, a paragraph:
Contains one or more sentences
Deals with a single thought or topic
Is separated from other paragraphs by identation or a white space between the paragraphs (like I do on my blog)
This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth. I believe that every sermon should have one key message, one point you’re trying to get across. I also think that your key message should be pulled directly from the verse or text passage you’re using. In this post, we’ll show the process of finding your key message in a verse or passage.
1. Study the verse or passage
For me, the starting point is always to really study the passage or verse I’m using. It may be very familiar to you, but it’s good to read it again a few times to let it work in you again. I recommend using several translations to see how they translate or interpret the text. It helps you look at the words afresh and may even give you some new insights. In this phase, I usually don’t look at commentaries yet, I want to extract the key message myself first.