Charles Stanley, a very well known televangelist, author and Bible teacher once said that Bible teaching pastors are cursed. Of course he was joking. He merely pointed out how we love to learn. We are like sponges. We absorb as much information as we can and get excited about SHARING new facts and information with others.
Do you want to know what the curse is?
It’s wanting to tell the congregation EVERYTHING we know about a subject all at once. We naturally assume because new information get us excited that it will ‘naturally’ get others just as excited. But the truth is not everyone can endure as much as we can endure. If we are not careful we will short-circuit our members with information overload!
I teach classes weekly and do you know what the most challenging thing for me is? What information gets CUT and what information will have to WAIT until NEXT week or what information gets TRASHED. When you only have an hour and a half, sifting information becomes a required skill you MUST master.
In particular, televangelists (like the Charles Stanley types) must always be time conscience as they only have, at most, 26 minutes of solid air time for their deliveries, otherwise the network will cut them off in mid-sentence.
Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind.
The more prepared you are, the more focused you are on staying on point. You already know the passage, the stories and examples you will be citing AND you will be less likely to ramble.
You can’t give it to them – ALL at once.
Remember the average person will not be able to endure what we can endure. It may not be that they don’t find the information interesting or exciting; they just can’t take it in – all in at once. So it’s a good point to always ‘SAVE SOME for LATER.’ Remember bite size amounts, never try to force feed.
Leave them wanting more.
We learned this fact in Toastmasters, a professional speaking organization where speeches are planned, timed and controlled. We will be tempted to share everything we know on the subject, but we must fight against our ‘curse’ to share it all. If our sermon was really engaging, a short message will, most likely, get us invited back to speak again or get them in their seats to hear our part two.
Speak to the masses, not just the few.
We will always have cheerleaders in the crowd. These are individuals who will always speak back to you, laugh with you and encourage you to go on. However, as pastors, we must always pan the room to pick up the mood from the average crowd – “Are we holding their interest?”
There’s always some truth in a joke about our time.
No one, respectful, wants to criticize their pastor. I’ve heard comments masked in laughter like, ‘Wow, pastor you sure gave us a lot this morning, or I guess we know all there is to know about ABC subject’ all the while glancing down at their watch.
Don’t get it twisted, they are not complimenting us. That is their most subtle way in saying, “Our sermon was too long.”
A little more planning sermons and our classes will go a long way in keeping people interested in what we have to say.
Keep in mind – One of the top 3 reasons why people don’t go to church is that the Sermons are too long. Hop online to see post entitled, “Sermons: How Long is Too Long.”
How long do you preach? Do you know pastors who preach too long?