Here’s another excerpt from the Preaching Rocket Seminar I attended a few weeks back. Andy Stanley shared this portion…
The right message with the wrong approach doesn’t deliver your message. Your approach trumps your content. You see this especially with communicating in the family – you had something to say that the other needed to change, but you end up being the one who’s apologizing because you took the wrong approach.
We all need to answer, “Does my approach to teaching support my goal, or does it trump it?”
Five Guides to Preaching Amongst the Unchurched
- Let them know you know they are there, and that you’re happy they are there. For example, every guy who’s new is wondering “How long will this last,” so they tell them in the opening that it’s 65 minutes. Every sermon has a funny statement that breaks the ice in acknowledging those who don’t consider themselves Christians.
- Choose a passage of Scripture. Make it so interesting they read it again at home. Make the text as interesting as your illustration. Nothings worse than making it sound like you have to speed through the Bible to get to the stories.
- Give them permission not to believe or obey. They’re not accountable to it until they adopt Jesus as their standard for living. “What business is it of mine to judge the outsider,” I Corinthians 5:12. They need space to count the cost. When you give unchurched people an out, they want to jump in. It takes them off of the defensive and puts choices back in their lap. Police Christian behavior, rather than expecting unchurched people to behave as Christians – “Today’s text is going to make you glad your not a Christian.”
- Avoid saying, “The Bible says.” You’ve set-up an obstacle to the gospel if you preach as though someone has to agree with and believe the Bible before they can commit to Jesus. Christ is first, the Bible is not. You need to phrase things so that Jesus is the first thing they are asked to welcome.
- Don’t refer to the Bible as a book – it’s bigger than that.
- Sight the author, not the book (makes it personal and doesn’t require that you know your way around the Scripture).
- Acknowledge the odd things odd. Just say what you think they’re thinking, and that ought to give you credibility. Don’t give the impression that you have to choose between faith and science (science is the study of how God put the universe together).