PREACHING LIKE JESUS

I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years when I bumped into her on the elevator at the hospital. I asked her how she was and how things were going at the church she attended. She said she was fine and then told me that they had just hired a new preacher. She added, “I just love him to death. His sermons are a breath of fresh air.” With all that excitement, and thinking maybe I could learn something new, I had to ask, “What is it about his sermons that you love?” She said, “He preaches just like Jesus! You know, he doesn’t tell any of those stories and just quotes lots and lots of scripture in his sermons.”

About that time the elevator door opened for her to get off. I didn’t get the chance, or have the heart, to tell her that she had it all backwards on Jesus. When you read through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament, you find Jesus quoting very few scriptures and constantly telling people stories. He was an amazing communicator. Here’s what I learn from reading about how Jesus preached to people…

  • Jesus told stories and painted pictures: Jesus was a master storyteller. There are some instances when he uses scripture, however, the overwhelming majority of the time he told stories and painted pictures. He taught with a towel, a bird, a flower, a shepherd, a son, a coin, a child, a plank and other things to make his point. Jesus didn’t preach many expository sermons.
  • Jesus was a communicator: There seems to be two kinds of teachers in this world … communicators and intellectuals. Communicators take something difficult and make it simple. Intellectuals take the simple and make it difficult. Unfortunately, there are far too many intellectuals trying to communicate the Gospel today. Jesus was simply a communicator. Preaching must be clear not complex.
  • Jesus talked about contemporary things: Jesus was relevant with the things he taught. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Jesus talked, people listened. I love the fact that Jesus taught on significant things that people needed to know. Things like eternity, death, how to treat one another, how to forgive and how to enter the Kingdom of God. He covered topics like adultery, anger, worry, debt, doubts, faith, giving, greed, honesty, hypocrisy, joy, kindness, lust, marriage, money, parenthood, prayer, sex, slander, speech, stewardship, taxes, trust, unkindness, virtue, wisdom and zeal.
  • Jesus’s teaching was applicable. You could apply what Jesus was teaching. He didn’t just tell you what was wrong, he told you how to fix things. Too many sermons are what-is-all-wrong sermons. I don’t want to just hear what’s wrong, instead I want someone to give me some specific steps to getting better. What people need today are not just what-you-ought-to sermons and more how-to sermons. When you exhortation without giving explanation it leads to frustration. I love the fact that you could apply what Jesus said. People left challenged when Jesus finished preaching.

“We need deep biblical teaching, but understand this, the deep teaching we need is the things that will make a difference in peoples day-to-day lives.” As D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives. The goal is Christ-like character.”

So, I have to say, make your preaching biblical and don’t be afraid to preach like Jesus. When we preach like he did, we’ll see the results he did. Maybe then we’ll begin to reverse some of the declining attendance in our churches.

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
22 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Shane Coffman says:

    Good thoughts, Trey.

  2. Chad Estes says:

    Hi Trey. I liked your post. I’m certainly connecting more with stories these days and honest conversation between people more than being preached at.

    I was tracking with you up to the fourth point. Although Jesus’ descriptions of life in the Kingdom were thought provoking, stirring, and made people ask more questions, I’m hard pressed to think of a conversation where Jesus gave “how to fix it” answers. “You must be born again,” leaves out relevant details. “Go and sin no more,” is certainly direction, but doesn’t have an itemized list following it.

    I have some things I am pondering about this, why Jesus communicated the way he did, but I’d be interested in hearing more of what you meant when you said we need more “how to” sermons.

    Thanks for making me think!

  3. Hannah Grace says:

    Thanks for the post, your posts often make me think, I like that!

  4. Doug Young says:

    Trey,

    Honesty forced me to admit that neither Jesus, nor his disciples, from what we can tell in Scripture, preached three-point alliterated sermons. They used the story of Jesus, as well as the testimony of how Jesus changed their own lives, as the basis for their preaching.

    So I committed myself to changing my approach, so that discipleship would be more than conceptual to me, but rather it be practical as well.

    I would say that most have enjoyed the change in approach. A lot of people have expressed to me that they’ve liked the change. The one’s who don’t just complain to the elders, but I think they are a minority. It doesn’t matter, though, I sense that now Scripture is for surely on my side.

  5. nick gill says:

    Tell It Slant is currently my favorite book about Jesus’ preaching and teaching style.

  6. Stoogelover says:

    Good stuff! What I noticed, too, about Jesus’ “preaching” is that many people were turned away from him! Even those who followed closely turned away in John 6. I heard a preacher recently who said if he and Jesus both started a church in the same town, his church would have more members than Jesus’ church because Jesus’ message of commitment turned people away.

    Obviously the resurrection gave a far different perspective and Jesus said because of that, he would draw all people to himself. But the commitment thing still seems to turn people off.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  7. Sharon says:

    I like this Trey! Even though I’m not in your congregation, I know you are an amazing preacher and leader. Childress is blessed to have you!

  8. TREY MORGAN says:

    Chad – You are right, there are some area where Jesus didn’t give “how to fix” lessons. But I was thinking how Jesus told us how to pray, how to store up treasure in heaven, and how to overcome worry. I love that Jesus how to fix struggling relationships when he said, “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Those were a few of the “how-to’s” I was thinking about.

    Doug – I too struggle with making my lessons what Jesus would have preached. As for those who complain to the elders … I have no problems with people who complain to elders as long as they don’t forget, that biblically, if they have a problem with me they should go to me first.

    Nick – Haven’t heard about that book. I’ll put it on my “find it” list. :)

    Greg – Excellent point. I’ve also noticed that those that turned away, Jesus just let go. He didn’t beg them or compromise to get them to stay.

    Sharon – Thank you. You’re sweet and I now officially owe you a dollar :)

  9. Gilbert Kerrigan says:

    I’m going to the National Preaching Summit, hosted by College Press Publishing, next week. The theme is Preaching Like Jesus.

    I’m really looking forward to it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    We are blessed to have a preacher that preaches like Jesus & tries to live like Jesus-your elders

  11. fraizerbaz says:

    You are definitely a communicator. You take something difficult and make it simple – in layman’s terms. I see other preachers placing so much emphasis on bible scholars and theologians viewpoints, rather than “things that will make a difference in peoples day-to-day lives” as you said.

  12. L.C.T. says:

    From a very young age I’ve been taught how to communicate and make things simple, but what you say about application really strikes me at my Church and the people around me.

    I have been so focused lately on application, how I can change who I am and what I do as I learn and grow, so that I’m constantly striving to be more like Jesus.

    But sometimes, other than reading blogs like this, I find it really hard to be challenged because application and “how-to” and things which are relevant are so rarely taught.

    Not sure how to go about changing that though…

  13. TREY MORGAN says:

    Gilbert – I’m seriously jealous.

    Anonymous – :) Thanks

    Fraizerbaz – Thanks for the kind words.

    LCT – Keep seeking spiritual food and anything that helps you to become more Christ-like. But I do understand where you’re coming from.

  14. cwinwc says:

    I guess her preacher doesn’t have in his Bible:
    Acts 17:28
    28 For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.”

    Titus 1:12
    12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”

    BTW – When someone says, “He just quotes Scripture,” that’s code for, “He reads the Bible and then tells us what HE thinks it means.

    The Bible has to be interpreted and if we’re honest, we all bring our pre-suppositions / baggage when we come to the text. That’s O.K. as long as we’re honest enought to:
    1. Admit it.
    2. Realize we could be wrong.

  15. eastern ky pastor says:

    Trey, I love your points here and truly believe that storytelling is a powerful way to communicate to our postmodern culture. I enjoy using storytelling and humor.

    Yet, may I mention a couple of things to consider.

    Technically speaking, wasn’t everything that Jesus preached, Scripture?

    More seriously, did Jesus tell stories to make truth easier to understand or to make it more difficult for some. Matthew 13:13ff seems to say the later.

    Perhaps, using story is more a cultural preference than divine example? Paul’s writing doesn’t employ story and he says that he didn’t come with eloquence, but with power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-4)

    What we do see is preaching the Gospel in a culturally relevant way. The Athens sermon is probably the best example, especially when compared to Paul defense before Festus.

    The move toward postmodernism has led away from the traditional rhetorical reasoning methods to a less organized approach, especially in verbal communication. Folks tend to not use a central thesis and supporting proofs any longer. So, the three point sermon isn’t going to appeal to the postmodern audience. A more successful approach may be more “organic”, featuring storytelling with deep application.

    Perhaps, the Jesus style of preaching varies style according to audience. Yet, keeps at its heart God’s deep Truth.

    Thanks for allowing me to give something to consider.

  16. Deb ;) says:

    Trey,
    I am not a member of your congregation, but I have visited your church. You DO PREACH LIKE JESUS!! I will voice again what others have already said, we are so blessed to have you in Childress!!

  17. TREY MORGAN says:

    cwinwc – I’ve think I’ve met that guy.

    Eastern KY pastor – Thanks for your comment. Well said and well backed up with scripture. Thanks for making me think.

    Larry – Well said.

    Deb – Thanks for the kind words … and you are ALWAYS welcome to come back again and again. :)

  18. Terry says:

    I like both preachers who tell stories and preachers who explain what the text means in other ways. Different preachers have different strengths, but a good heart can make different kinds of preachers just as effective at bringing people to Christ.

    Very good post, Trey!

  19. Deb ;) says:

    Trey,
    I will definately visit again. Thank you for your kind words and prayers on my behalf.

  20. Wes Hazel says:

    The difference between us and Jesus is the same difference between Jesus and the scribe. Jesus “taught them as one having authority,” (Matthew 7:29)

    It is not a call to use less scripture. Ky pastor said it well that “every thing Jesus spoke was scripture.” We are dependant upon His words.

    That being said, Jesus was painfully at time personal and practical. He got right to where the sin was. His goal was to save the lost. That is the example we ought to seek to emulate in our preaching.

    How is God using me to save this soul through this lesson? We might preach differently if we asked that question more. We might also touch more lives instead of putting people to sleep.

  21. justin says:

    You should give credit to Rick Warren for some of the phrases that you used in this article;)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Preaching needs to be compassionate, loving and truthful. Trying to nail someone’s hide to the wall in a sermon never converted anyone.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
  • good list. Don't forget Nickelback, OJ, ISIS and beer-throwing Blue Jay fans.
  • He was pretty tough to listen to as well.
  • As crazy as it might sound, Chris Collinsworth just might be worse to listen to than the song Christmas Shoes.
  • Please remember that some Christmas music is incredibly offensive to people with grandmothers who actually were run over by reindeer.
  • Unfortunately, not a great night for "bobcats." :)

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