Much of what I have learned in preaching has come through failure; and I have a ton to learn so I wonder if this means I have much more failure on the horizon. Here is a principle that I learned the hard way a couple of weeks ago:
“The preacher is passionate. This week’s preparation has engaged the preacher’s affections. The sermon starts at an intense and animated register. The problem is that the people have not had the preparation time given the preacher. They do not yet see the truth that has ignited the preacher’s grand style, so they wonder what has the preacher so worked up. But if the preacher will somewhat restrain while instructing so that all may see the light of the truth clearly, then when illustrating, the mixture of affection and explanation builds. Application in a style more grand and designed to move the hearer will have a more solid foundation.” (Eswine, Preaching to a Post-Everything World, p129)
In other words don’t floor it and go from 0-120mph in the first 30 seconds…otherwise your congregation will spill coffee in their lap and probably have a sore neck. I made this mistake a couple of weeks ago. I was extremely passionate about our need to rise above mediocrity as believers and I asked some very pointed questions in the introduction. The problem is much of it was lost because I think the students were asking, “what has Mike so worked up”. And these students know me well…we have been together for 5 years now. Had I only waited and built up to those questions I think they would have had a far greater impact.
Now, I certainly believe that the Holy Spirit can use truth in whatever form it is presented. Not all is lost. However, as a preacher of the gospel it is my responsibility to be dedicated to making the message the most understandable and faithful to the intentions of the Lord. Maybe, sometimes we need to floor it, but I think a steady pace is far more effective and you’ll go through way less motors.
So, preacher, slow down and build up to that which has you “so worked up”. Let the congregation go through the same journey that you went through so that the truth will “work them up” too.