In the last five articles we have seen how to preach Bible stories by using running narrative, why preachers should be transparent in their sermons, the importance of keeping your sermons biblical, balanced, and brief, why you must let your sermons change you before preaching them to others, and how to unlock Bible passages with word studies. Let’s see two more tips that can transform your delivery:
6. Go for the Conscience
Why is it that when Tom Farrell preaches, there is just usually a period of time where it’s really quiet? Have you ever heard this saying: a message in the head reaches the head, and a message in the heart reaches the heart? Go one step further, preachers: a message from the conscience reaches the conscience. Once you’ve reached the conscience of an individual, that’s when the life is going to be changed.
When you read the old Puritans’ writings, they never mentioned feelings or emotions, but they mentioned the conscience all the time. The conscience is the courtroom of our being, part of our spirit. It is where the Holy Spirit works on us.
When you’re preaching to the conscience, you’re giving the Holy Spirit ammunition to use in the lives of those listening to you. Do you ever wonder why the Holy Spirit isn’t working in some of your preaching? It may be because you’re not giving the Holy Spirit the tools to use in your preaching. Go for the conscience, the place where right and wrong is recognized.
When you start going for the conscience, you will be amazed by the difference you see. When I pastored in Santa Maria, I had an evangelist come to our school who preached right to the conscience. The students had never been exposed to preaching like that before. The first two days those kids sat there and thought, “Is this guy for real?” He preached on things and he said things that they’d never heard in their entire life in a very straightforward way. It was always quiet. I sensed a resistance starting to build, and I thought, “Oh man, this week isn’t going the way I was thinking it was going to go.”
Nobody moved on Monday or Tuesday at the invitation. But then on Thursday, things exploded in our school. It was astounding. He came and he preached to the conscience of those kids. That’s what started making the change in their lives.
If we just preach head to head and heart to heart, that is all we will reach. Start going for the conscience. What am I talking about? Get specific. Preaching to the conscience must be where they live: give them biblical principles that they need. Don’t preach in generalities. Let the Holy Spirit use the specifics that you’re giving in your message so that He can work in hearts in specific ways. Go for the conscience.
7. Change up Your Invitations
Just as every sermon and lesson is unique, your approach to the invitation should vary to complement the sermon. You may not feel the need to have an invitation at every one of your services. Sometimes they need to stand up and that’s all. Sometimes they just need to show their hands and you need to pray for them. Sometimes they need counsel and they need to come forward.
It is easy to get in a rut where we do the same invitations we’ve been doing for years. I really like Dr. Goetsch’s different approaches to invitations at West Coast Baptist College chapel. It is different all the time. It keeps it vibrant. If you’re teaching a Sunday school class or in a Christian school teaching Bible, put invitations in those Bible classes. Tell your Sunday school teachers to have invitations. That will freshen things up so much.
When I was a pastor, sometimes I would give a salvation invitation halfway through the message. If I was on a salvation point and sensed the Holy Spirit’s working, I would have everybody bow their heads and close their eyes, and offer them a chance for salvation right in the middle of the message! Then I’d go on with the rest of the message. I’m not saying to do that all the time, just every once in a while. It keeps it fresh when you are thinking about what you’re going to do with the invitation.
Preach for the conscience, and let your lesson determine your invitations.