Last week Stephen Elliott shared with us his concept that a sermon topic should be able to be summarized in one word or at the most two. If we can’t name the topic, the listeners will be lost. This week we want to share with you a sermon that was focused. What was the pastor talking about? Manhood.
Kevin Myers is the pastor of 12stone Church in Atlanta, Georgia. This sermon is the second sermon in a series titled “It’s a guy thing”. It looks into the life of Samson to learn what Scripture tells us about “manhood.” Before your defenses are raised, you should know that Kevin is attempting to address dangerous gender stereotypes and bring men out of negative masculinity into a more healthy masculinity than our culture often offers. There are many things Pastor Kevin does in his preaching that should be applauded. I’d like to briefly touch on a few and then give you some questions to think about related to preaching.
1. He showed us he was human. He did this a couple of different ways. First, he invited the congregation to celebrate with him and his family on his daughter’s recent engagement. By bringing his daughter and her fiancé to the stage and sharing their recent accomplishment, we as listeners can easily see Pastor Kevin as more than just a spiritual leader, but a man with a family and story of his own. He also did this by revealing that story and how this very sermon had affected his life and how it continues to affect him today. Without giving us too much information that might concern us, we saw how he wrestled with this topic himself and how God helped him overcome. This gave us hope in the fact that God can do the same work in our lives.
2. Kevin used a sniper rifle rather than a shotgun. Imagine trying to shoot a target 100 yards away with a shotgun. Probably won’t work, would it? Pastor Kevin’s entire sermon was centered on one idea. It wasn’t a shotgun shot type of message but a very precise shot at the heart of the issue. He picked the right weapon, aimed down on the sights, and took his shot at the issue being addressed. We didn’t leave the sermon feeling overwhelmed and confused. Instead, we left the sermon knowing exactly what the issue was that he was addressing, and what practical steps we can take to help us in this area.
3. Kevin uses humor well. I think we’d all agree that there is a big difference between a sermon and a stand-up comedy show. Though using humor isn’t necessary to keep an audience engaged, if you can use it well, it will definitely be effective in keeping the congregation engaged and ready to receive our sermon. Pastor Kevin used it well. With lines like, “When God showed up in the garden with Eve, Adam quit naming the animals” it lowers the guards we put up that prevent solid messages from getting in and allows us to receive the true message behind the humor. There are several other ways to keep the audience engaged, but humor (when used appropriately) does an excellent job in doing this.
4. We left the sermon knowing exactly what to do next. Kevin did an excellent job of giving us practical next steps in a way that we left the sermon knowing ways to live out the sermon. It’s easy to present a problem and even hit at the heart of the issue. We can be clear and precise, but people might leave the experience knowing what their problem is without knowing how to address it. Pastor Kevin provided clear direction for anyone looking to see a spiritual change. The sermon opened up possibilities of hope that were not there before for many listeners.
So then Preachers:
– What do you do to make sure your listeners don’t leave feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, or just confused as to what to do with what you’re preaching?
– How do you preach on issues that affect men or women in our culture without falling into harmful gender stereotypes?
Next week: we will post another article by Stephen Elliott on the relationship between preaching and the Spirit’s power.