Crafting a sermon is an art. It is not something to take lightly. It is hard work. To learn more, I encourage you to read my article on sermon preparation. However, the focus of this article is on the actual delivery of a sermon. You may have some very good truths to communicate, but, how you communicate those truths goes a long way in making the sermon effective. Consider the following pointers on sermon delivery:
1. Be Presentable.
Standing before a congregation to preach is a very serious matter. The way you present yourself goes a long way in whether or not the people will listen. Personally, I believe that a preacher should dress professionally. He should dress in way that shows that he takes his responsibility seriously and that what he has to say is important. A preacher should never appear to be lazy or flippant in his communication. For me, this means (on most occasions), wearing a coat and tie.
2. Speak Clearly.
No one will get anything out of a sermon when the preacher cannot be understood and heard. Speak loudly, not as if you are yelling at the congregation. However, speak up so they can hear you. Articulate your words carefully so that is very clear as to what you are saying.
3. Avoid long and awkward pauses.
Sometimes a short pause is needed to get a point across. However, a long pause can become very awkward and shows a lack of preparation on the part of the preacher.
4. Be organized.
Make sure you have your notes organized and your scripture passages clearly marked so that you never lose your place. There is nothing more damaging to the effectiveness of a sermon when the preacher loses his place and has to pause to find where he is at.
5. Use repetition wisely.
Repeat your main point regularly throughout the sermon. However, do not get stuck in saying the same sentence over and over again.
6. Look up.
Make sure you are prepared well enough that you do not have to look down at your notes too often. Look up at the congregation and look people in the eye in order to communicate your point well.
7. Limit the number of jokes and personal stories.
Personally, I do not like to hear preachers telling jokes that has nothing to do with the sermon. There are times when something comical may be used within the sermon that fits with a particular point. There are also times when a personal story is needed to drive home a point. However, the sermon should never bring attention to the preacher. The sermon should always bring attention to Jesus and to the text at hand.
8. Practice. Practice. Practice.
The key to good delivery is constant practice. As part of your sermon preparation, make sure you practice preaching the sermon. The more you practice, the more confident you will be and the better your delivery will be.
9. Review. Review. Review.
Make sure you take time to listen to your sermon after you preach it and review not just the content, but, also the delivery of your message. Put yourself in the shoes of someone sitting in the pew and consider anything that you may need to work on to improve your delivery.
There will never come a time when you have arrived in your preaching. There is always room to learn and to improve.