I hate Easter and Christmas! There are only so many creative ways I can think of to preach on the nativity and resurrection! Help! I want to be a successful pastor, but being creative week after week is tough. Any suggestions?
A Tired, Frustrated Preacher
I know the feeling. Preachers must be ready for every occasion—never is this more true than in our sermons. From holidays to fundraisers, from winter highs to summer doldrums and for all else in between, we rise to the task of preaching clear-cut and relevant sermons. I stretch myself by refusing to use the same sermon style every week. Varying styles add fresh air to the week-end worship experience. I enjoy finding just the right way to help people move forward in their spiritual journeys.
Of course, we all will develop a primary style. The pastor of the First Methodist Church in downtown Dallas once declared, “No sermon ought to be longer than twenty minutes.” The pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, W.A. Criswell, responded publicly, “If all you do is preach sermonettes for Christianettes then twenty minutes is too long. But, if what you are doing is expounding the Word of God, then twenty minutes does not suffice for the introduction.
Both men had their own ideas about the nature of preaching. Both had developed their primary sermon styles. Both may well have been right for their own personalities and church settings, I tend to agree with Chriswell. Nevertheless, on one occasion I preached a one-sentence sermon. I don’t think anyone became a Christian that Sunday—but no one who was in attendance will ever forget it.
In today’s world sermons come in all shapes and sizes. Topical sermons usually stand alone and deal weekly with one subject at a time. Textual sermons proclaim the truths and applications of one particular text or passage. Expository sermons work through a Bible passage teaching its truths usually word by word, verse by verse, or paragraph by paragraph. Narrative sermons tell a story from start to finish (The Narrative style seems to be Jesus’ favorite way of communicating truth. Interactive sermons intentionally involve the congregation in the sermon. For example, these sermons may invite the congregation to get in groups of three and actually “do” a Bible verse instead of just hearing about it. Let your people experience Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” Then allow them time to spend “mourning with those who mourn.” Your people will not want stop when you try to transition them into a benediction. There are one-point sermons and three-point sermons and doctrinal sermons and on and one goes the list.nMy sermon style was solidified by Charles Swindoll’s topical expositions and practical applications. John MacArthur provided the foundation for solid expository foundations.
I have a sermon tool box full of differing styles. I have preached topical, textual, expository, narrative and interactive sermons. Currently, I am working on a new textual-narrative style designed with well crafted emotional hook that reaches deep into their souls in such a way that life-change occurs right in the sermon. I am having fun—and hopefully my developing sermon styles are more relevant than ever.