My wife loves to make desserts. Everyone loves her baking. In our very first small group as a married couple, she volunteered to bring a dessert. She made a layered berry cheesecake. It was amazing. When she brought it in the door, one of the other ladies joked, “But I’m the Queen of Desserts!”
Every time someone samples one of her savory creations there is a moment where you can almost see their taste buds explode. Then it always follows with “Wow!” or “Amazing” or a basic, almost primal moan of sheer delight. Don’t you wish preaching was like that? Don’t you wish that your message had people saying “Wow!” or “Amazing” or just a basic, primal moan of agreement at the end of every Sunday?
I don’t anymore.
Recently, I preached a message on loving your enemies (Luke 6: 27-36). I gave people an opportunity to respond but no one did. One of our elders came up afterward and simply prayed, “Lord, keep working through plugged ears and hearts.” And that prayer reminded me of this truth.
Putting the message together took time. You took time to wrestle through the biblical idea. You took time to think about where that idea applies to you. You took time to craft the message in a way that would fit your audience. Doesn’t it make sense that it might take your audience some time to process the sermon?
Transformation takes time. Seed takes time to grow and produce a crop (Matthew 13: 1-23). Great sermons do the same. They give time for transformation to happen.
How do you have great sermons that transform?
- Offer a next step. Give people something they can do immediately. It might be something simple like a chance to pray. Give them a take home item so they can give it to a friend or post it on their fridge to remind them of their next step.
- Preach series rather than standalone messages. Give people repeated exposure to a biblical idea. Preached from multiple texts, they give people repeated opportunity from multiple angles for response. This works whether you are preaching topically or are preaching through a specific book. The books of the Bible are so well arranged that major dominant themes become evident in each book. Repeated exposure helps to create momentum for transformation.
- Allow people to give feedback. Don’t just talk to people after the service in the lobby. Let people know where they can email comments or questions. Post application questions with your sermon podcast online. Offer them to your small group leaders for discussion. Give people a spot for feedback on your church’s Facebook page. Ask open ended questions on Twitter. Use these tools and more to begin discussion that gets people mulling over the message idea like a cow chews cud.
Great sermons take time. Great sermons give people repeated opportunity for transformation.
Question: How do you give opportunities for transformation? What are some concrete ways you encourage change once your preaching is done for the day/weekend? How do you creatively invite people to follow up and follow through on your message?