So, you throw your heart into preparing and delivering a sermon only to see…almost no response?
We’ve all been there as preachers. I’ve been there. And my guess is you’ve seen that kind of tepid response too.
The ‘nice sermon’ you get in the lobby on Sunday or the silence you feel at a staff meeting after preaching your heart out can be frustrating and infuriating. After all, you really poured your heart into it.
So what gives? Why are people not responding when you preach? Why do you get met with crickets or polite lip service as a response?
In this post, I’ll share three reasons it happens and three easy ways to fix it.
Often, it’s not what you’re saying that creates indifference, it’s how you’re saying it.
Reason 1: You weren’t clear
No one remembers confusing sermons. They only
remember clear sermons. If you’re not clear, your congregation won’t be either.
Here’s a simple rule in preaching. No one remembers confusing sermons. They only remember clear sermons.
So one place to begin when you’re not sure why people aren’t responding to your sermon is to ask yourself (and others) whether you were clear.
If you’re not clear, your congregation won’t be either.
As Andy Stanley says, “Mist in the pulpit, fog in the pew.”
Solution: Start Early (Clarity Takes Time)
The best way to be clear is to start your message prep and writing ahead of time.
Great preaching is like a stew. The longer you let it simmer, the better it gets. Start your message prep early—as in weeks or months early.
If on Thursday morning, you’re still trying to decide what you’re going to say on Sunday morning, you’re preaching might be true, but it won’t be clear.
Clarity takes time. It means sorting through 100 ideas to find good ideas and eliminating all of the good ideas until you have the clearest, best idea left standing. Then you preach that.
If you’re still winging your messages or not putting in the hard work ahead of time (way ahead of time), just know you’re setting yourself up to lead a stagnant or shallow church. And no one wants that. Especially you.
Conversely, if you take the time to work, pray, study, write and find clarity ahead of time, you’ll be amazed at how your messages start to connect.
While finding clarity isn’t easy, Mark Clark and I walk you through many of the nuances of studying deeply and communicating effectively in this era in the Art of Preaching Course, including how to communicate clearly in ways that people hear, remember, and respond to your message.