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.