Tips to Effective Preaching
The Bible is full of examples of effective preaching. In Acts 2:14-38 and Acts 3:12-26, Peter ministered in such a way that thousands were saved. Below are a few tips to help you become a more effective preacher and teacher of the Word.
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Tips to Effective Preaching
- Study the Word. In Acts 2:14-38 and Acts 3:12-26 it’s evident that Peter had studied the Word. He was given the opportunity to preach and was “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). He was ready at a moments notice. He was ready because he was prepared in advance.
2 Timothy 2:15 – “Studying to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”
When I first started preaching, I taught through a different book of the Bible each of our three services a week. I used at least seven commentaries. After researching them thoroughly, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to say, how He wanted me to present my message, and what kind of applications He wanted for His people. It took a lot of time, effort and hard work, but it was worth it. Taking shortcuts to the study of the Word will rob you of the richness and jewels the Lord wants to give you from His Word.
- Memorize scripture. Nothing is more powerful than the Word of God. Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, quoted large and obscure passages of scripture. He didn’t pull out a scroll and look things up – HE KNEW IT! He had apparently already put much of the Word to memory. The Word will do more in the hearts of people than we ever can. My opinion is not worth much, but what God has to say is of eternal value. Nothing has helped me in my preaching and teaching more than the memorization of scripture. In Mark 2:2, Jesus was in a crowded house in Capernaum and there He “preached the Word unto them.” Only the Word makes our ministry and preaching truly effective.
- God’s Word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11).
- The Word is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).
- God watches over and hastens His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).
- He honors His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2).
- God’s Word is sent out through us to bring healing and deliverance into the lives of His people (Psalms 107:20).
- God anoints His Word and through it breaks every yoke of bondage (Isaiah 10:27 KJV).
- God promises the Holy Spirit will “bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever He has said unto us” (John 14:26). We must, however, put in the time and effort to know what God’s Word says.
- Depend upon the Lord. John 15:5 says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” The only way to be effective preachers is to depend upon and lean on Him entirely. Peter learned this the hard way. Sadly, many of us will have to learn this the hard way as well. In Matthew 26:33 he was depending on himself instead of Jesus. When he preached on the day of Pentecost, he was no longer leaning on his own strength but on God’s. It’s hard not to depend on our natural strengths and depend on Him instead.
This is especially true if we have natural abilities. Any thing of any worth or value coming from my life is totally and completely Him. I cry out to Him every time I preach, letting Him know that unless He does it through me, it will be a disaster. Let’s abandon self dependency and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work through us, which is the only way it will have any lasting value or effectiveness.
- Have an experience with the cross. When the lame man was healed and everyone began to look to Peter and John as if they were someone great, Peter was quick to turn their attention away from him and direct them to Jesus. He said, “Why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk” (Acts 3:12)? Peter was quick to let them know it wasn’t them but Jesus. In Acts 3:16 he took it a step further saying it wasn’t his faith, but the faith that came from Jesus. If we haven’t had a true experience with the cross our effectiveness in ministering the Word will be limited at best. There will be times when people look to us and we must always point them to Jesus. God will share His glory with no one.
- Have a good support system. No matter how great we think we are, we can’t do it alone. In Acts 2:14, Peter “took his stand with the eleven,” who stood behind him in full support. To be effective preachers, we must have people who fully support us. Peter had denied the Lord and in the natural, they probably wouldn’t have chosen him. However, they knew he was the one Jesus had called and chosen. Let that be a lesson to us. Let’s stand behind the person God has called and chosen (Hebrews 5:4). They may not be perfect, and may go through struggles now and then, and yes, even failure, but they are still the one God has chosen (John 15:16).
Romans 11:29 – “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance (irrevocable).”
Luke 16:12 – “If you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own.” Everyone needs a good men Corner!
- Use voice inflection. In Acts 2:14 Peter “raised his voice.” It doesn’t mean he was screaming and yelling. No one likes it when people are screaming at them. That said, it’s extremely boring when a person ministers in a merely monotone voice. When we want to emphasize a point there should be a change in our voice – voice inflection. God will help you as you progress and grow in your ministry. Often it will develop as you are impressed with the importance of what you are attempting to get across to your people and those to whom you are ministering. The best advice I can give is – BE YOURSELF! Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
- Be informative. Peter said, “Let this be known to you” (Acts 2:14). We must give our people fresh insight and understanding into the Word when we minister. This of course requires diligent study (2 Timothy 2:15). Insight into the Word of God doesn’t come easy. It takes time, hard work and diligence. We must also strive to impart the mind of God to our people. This requires more than being studious. It requires spending time with Jesus (Acts 4:13), seated at His feet, listening to Him and His Word (Luke 10:38-42). We need to be able to give our people “thus says the Lord!”
- Teach sound doctrine. The teaching of Sound Doctrine is a must to any good Bible preacher or teaching. “For the time will come when they will not endure Sound Doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This takes time, hard work and diligent study. It will take opening up a number of works on theology and studying them. Use a number of different works so you are not just taking one theologians word on important issues. We live in a day like no other in history where God’s church desperately needs Sound Doctrine.
Paul challenged Timothy, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). Every good Pastor must give attention to each of these three areas if they are to properly feed, shepherd, and train their people. To leave out any of these three is to fail our people.
- Reading. This has to do with the public reading of scripture. It’s good to take our people through the scriptures verse by verse, chapter by chapter and book by book. Simply reading and giving brief explanations and applications as you’re reading. A Sunday evening service is good for this.
- Exhortation. This has to do with preaching. In most churches this is covered in the Sunday morning worship service. This is indeed needed in the church but if this is all your people are receiving you aren’t giving them a well-rounded diet of God’s Word.
- Doctrine. We live in a day where a lot of strange things are being taught in the church. Scripture challenges us, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9). “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Your midweek service would be really good for this.
I know we live in a day when most churches do well to get their people to come to church once a week. I’m convinced that if pastors would commit to what I have just outlined and do it themselves, they’d soon see all three services begin to be filled. True believers are hungry and desire to be fed a balanced diet of the Word of God. If you’re afraid to make such a commitment, then at least rotate these areas of instruction where you go for so many weeks giving attention to reading and explaining the scriptures as you read through a book of the Bible, then exhortation or preaching, and then so many weeks dedicated to teaching on a particular category of theology (doctrine). Your people deserve no less!
- Be exhortative. Acts 2:14 says, “Give heed to my words.” It does little good to give people information if we’re not going to encourage them to implement it into their daily lives. People will not profit from our ministry unless we get them to put the Word into practice. This won’t be easy, and often they won’t like it, but we must challenge our people to “give heed to our words.” In Mark 15:21, Simeon of Cyrene was pressed into service to bear Jesus’ cross. This was likely the same Simeon in Acts 13:1 who had become one of the leaders in the Antioch church.
- Hebrews 2:1 – “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
- James 2:17 – “Faith without works is dead.”
- Hebrews 4:2 – “For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith, in them that heard it.”
- Hebrews 10:24 – “Provoke one another to love and good works.”
- Get to the point. In Acts 2:23, after explaining what happened on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “You nailed to a cross and put Him to death.” After the healing of the lame man, Peter was quick to tell them, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous one and put to death the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). Notice, he said “you,” not someone in general. We must stop playing games with people and tell them the truth – Get straight to the point!
If God has called you to preach the Word of God, don’t quit! He will prosper your work and ministry in due season.