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The Challenge of An Audience. Dear Speaker: I hear a lot of people like you. I don’t mean to be impertinent, but give me one good reason why I should listen:

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the challenge of an audience
The Challenge of An Audience

Dear Speaker:

I hear a lot of people like you. I don’t mean to be impertinent, but give me one good reason why I should listen:

Are you about to say something that I would find useful? Are you willing to promise me that if I do listen, I will hear something of consequence?

Exactly what kind of promise would I like you to make? Promise me that after I have listened, I will upgrade my bogus values, jettison my impure motives, and commit myself to somethingglorious and dangerous and heady and wonderful.

Promise me that all the time I sit listening and you stand talking that I will see things I was unwilling to face before you preached. Help me see my sin, or God’s glory, or Jesus’ power.

Promise me that I, who am riddled with inferiority, will at last believe in myself.

I have always been afraid of heights. Challenge me with Everest. Promise me that after your words, I will be able to scale those icy walls and with God’s help plant his mighty flag on the summit of all my doubts.

Promise me that I at last will know who I am and what I was born to achieve.

Promise all this and you shall have first my ear. . .and then my soul.

-Your Audience

preaching voices from the past present
Preaching: Voices from the Past & Present

The Reformers

The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God – Martin Luther

God deigns to consecrate to himself the mouths and tongues of men in order that His voice may resound in them – John Calvin

18 th century preachers
18th Century Preachers

I live by preaching – John Wesley

If I had come to you in my own name, you might rest your elbows upon your knees and your heads on your hands and go to sleep! But I have come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts – I must and I will be heard – George Whitfield

The great design & intention of a Christian preacher are to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men and to attract the souls of men into a state of everlasting friendship with him – Cotton Mather

current voices
Current Voices

The church’s proclamation of him who is the Word of God is very real human speech and yet no less very divine speech, because it articulates one who is in the language of the Nicene Creed “very God and very man.”

James Daane

Preaching with Confidence

We can no longer assume our preaching takes place within a more or less “Christian” culture. The great narratives of Judeo-Christian belief, the pivotal stories of the Bible’s characters, the events of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ either are not known or do not carry the meaning-making significance they did for previous generations Biblical knowledge, Christian doctrine and theological reflection must be presented and re-presented from America’s pulpit-yes even American Christians

Craig Loscalzo (Apologetic Preaching)

Pentecostal preaching is preaching the Word of God. It is not preaching about the Word. It should be simple preaching. By that I mean preaching that can be understood.

Guy Duffield (Pentecostal Preaching)

preaching for response historical considerations
Preaching for Response:Historical Considerations

Theological assumptions & historical realities impact sermon construction/delivery and expected response.

The Reformation was a reaction to human effort at religiosity. The expected response to preaching became a conceptual response altering a belief system.

Luther, Zwingli, Calvin would not be the best preachers to model in giving altar calls.

Charles Finney exemplified a reaction to the “old school”. Left brained religion wasn’t enough for Finney. Finney’s preaching for response exemplified:
  • His own encounter with God
  • His belief that the affections must be addressed specifically
  • A verdict for Christ was necessary.
  • Invitations to an “anxious bench” were standard.

Moody, Sunday and Graham perfect Finney’s “new school” efforts.

preaching for response
Preaching for Response
  • Shaped by theological assumptions
  • Influenced by historical realities
  • Response must not be taken for granted
  • Biblical precedent exists

Mt. 11:28; Luke 13:1-3; Acts 2:40; II Cor. 5:20

preaching for response in the 21 th century
Preaching for Response in the 21th Century

Religious teaching or values minimally impact people’s moral choices

Only 22% of Americans believe moral absolutes exist

Compared to teens throughout the past 20 years, today’s teenagers have the lowest likelihood of attending church when living independent of their parents.

communication realities that mitigate against preaching for response
Communication Realities that mitigate against preaching for response
  • The central section of a sermon is least likely to be remembered
  • Listeners usually “round off” a sermon to a general idea
  • People tend to interpret messages on the basis of past experiences
  • Listeners tend to select material based on how interesting it is to them
  • Most listeners find it difficult to separate essential from non-essential in a message
  • A speaker’s delivery and person can be more influential than the content of the message
preaching for response the bottom line
Preaching for response – the bottom line
  • Start before you begin
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • End with clarity
start before you begin
Start before you begin

Specificity increases clarity – in one sentence – what is this sermon about? What do hearers need to know to act on this message?

  • There is a reward for the hard work of forgiveness

What do I want them to do?

  • What about your dad, who left you and your mom when you were 8? Are you ready to forgive him?

What do I want them to become?

  • If Rick the plumber were to take this message to heart, what would the changes look like?
How does this sermon fit in the larger vision?
  • Preaching to reinforce a direction of a mission-minded church

Answer skeptics question

So what? Text must be linked to context

Oh really? Save yourself from trite preaching

ask yourself
Ask yourself
  • Do I believe this message will make a difference?
  • Has this biblical truth made a difference in my life this week?
  • “If the preacher is not first preaching to himself, better that he falls on the steps of the pulpit and breaks his neck than preaches that sermon” – John Calvin
  • Will I use the material of others appropriately?

Ed Rowell – preaching

begin with the end in mind
Begin with the end in mind

Consider your audience –

  • Narrative is powerful
  • Entertainment is expected
  • Technology is omnipresent
  • Connection rather than education is valued
consider your support system
Consider your support system

What about notes?

  • Comfort yields confidence
  • Confidence yields clarity
  • Clarity yields effective communication
consider your physical presentation
Consider your physical presentation



Vocal usage

Modulate toward your personal style of communication

consider your attitude
Consider your attitude
  • Don’t make your pulpit a “bully pulpit”
  • Make sure people know you care
  • Humility trumps personal satisfaction
  • Do you expect God to show up?

Kenton Anderson –

end with clarity
End with clarity

Response times depend on clear content, clear language, clear directions

Lack of clarity at this point in the service creates confusion

Clear content assumes a simple pattern

Billy Graham’s four points are:

  • Admit you’re a sinner.
  • Christ’s provision on Calvary can cover your sin.
  • You must repent of your sin
  • Will you receive Christ’s forgiveness?
clear language
Clear language
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use words carefully to explain what you are asking people to respond to
clear directions
Clear directions
  • People need to know what you want them to do
  • People need to know why they are being asked to respond
  • People need to know when to respond and what to expect

Greg Laurie (Leadership, Spring 1995)

Preachers who preach for response faithfully can have faith in the God who calls people to repentance and obedience

Preaching for response is biblically rooted – can be hindered by lack of preparation – but never be thwarted because it relies on the Spirit’s empowerment.

Preaching for response is a Pentecostal preacher’s responsibility because Pentecostal preaching bears witness to the resurrecting power of God which breaks into every aspect of God’s created order. (James Forbes) The Holy Spirit and the Preacher