Every pastor knows that preaching the Word regularly demands a lot of time spent in research and development.
We collect and categorize ideas. We dig into our passages. We assemble supporting verses and material. We put it all in outline form. And then, we deliver it!
One of the last steps in the preparation process is to add flavor to the message in order to communicate it well to a modern audience.
The Bible says of Solomon that “the Preacher sought to find delightful words…” (Ecclesiastes 12:10 NASB)
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…” Col. 4:6 (RSV) “Talk to them agreeably and with a flavor of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.” Col. 4:6 (JB)
In other words, we should flavor the message for our audience – not to make it more or less acceptable, but to make it more memorable and engaging.
If words are to enter people’s hearts and bear fruit, they must be the right words, shaped to pass defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.
In other words, what you say matters, and how you say it matters, too!
Once I’ve done the work of preparing the content of the message, I ask these six questions.
- What is the most practical way to say it?
- What is the most positive way to say it?
- What is the most encouraging way to say it?
- What is the simplest way to say it?
- What is the most personal way to say it?
- What is the most interesting way to say it?
And once I’ve walked through those questions, I then evaluate the sermon to see what kind of flavoring I’ve really added. I use at least five different methods of flavoring a message.
Illustrations are the windows of the message – they let the light in. Preaching a sermon with no illustrations is like guiding someone around in the dark with all the lights shut off.
Illustrations should be used wisely, to amplify the meaning of the text. They should be somewhat brief – don’t get bogged down in all of the irrelevant details. And they should always have a point and connect back to the main thrust of the sermon.
Jesus often used a form of ancient Hebrew, exaggerative humor. When he talked about straining at gnats while swallowing camels, his audience would have laughed.
Humor breaks the ice with people and breaks down barriers, creating a bond with the audience that paves the way for the serious appeal of the message to come through.
Testimonies and Life Change Stories
Fromt the earliest days of Saddleback, we’ve used both live and recorded testimonies in our services. We usually have people write out what they’re going to say so that we can coach them in using correct terms.
People will often forget the main points of the sermon long before they forget the story someone told in the middle of those points.
Video and Film Clips
We don’t use them much, but sometimes we use clips from popular movies to illustrate something in a message. And there have also been times when we’ve made our own clips, too.
Tag Team Preaching
One of the hardest things for a pastor to do is to trust someone else to preach to the congregation. This is especially true when they’re preaching in tag team fashion.
I’ve found that our church needs to hear from voices other than mine. And I’ve also found that people pay closer attention when a new speaker steps out on stage.
I love and wholeheartedly agree with what my friend, Chuck Swindoll, says about flavoring the message:
If you think the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are deeply mistaken. It will not. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offense, and irrelevance is a disgrace to the Gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals.
Remember to add flavoring to your message for this weekend!