Holding The Attention of People As You Preach

Holding The Attention of People As You Preach

In the last post we began a consideration of how to grab and hold peoples’ attention.  This post is a continuation of that subject.  We saw how asking questions and telling people how to respond can get them to “check in” to what you are saying.  How do you go about holding the attention of people as you preach to them?  Here are several more “tricks”, or tactics to accomplish that.

Visuals Hold Attention As You Preach

Jesus was an expert at this.  It is likely, scholars tell us, that while Jesus was giving the parable of the sower that there was a farmer in the field nearby, casting seed onto his field.   He described a city that was on a hill, whose light could not be hidden.  He called attention to a poor widow dropping two small coins into the offering.  When he wanted to make a point about the humility that Jesus wanted for his followers, he called a child, and used him as a visual aid.  There is something that happens in our message when we use visuals.  People check in, they connect to what you are saying.  When you use a visual, you’ll find that you are holding the attention of people as you preach to them.

It is a good practice, when you are writing your sermons, to think about how you might use a visual aid to support your main points.  At one point in my ministry I had a team of people who would meet to discuss how we could support the preaching of the Word.  We considered songs, readings, and especially visuals.  Here are some of the ones that I remember as being particularly effective.

Examples of effectively holding peoples attention

One time I was preaching about temptation.  The wood workers in our church put a door on a stand for me.  I talked about the decisions and actions that would lead up to a “fall” as I walked closer and closer to the door.  Then I opened the door and walked through.  And once through, I talked about how you can walk back through repentance.

Another time I was preaching about Jesus being the light of the world.  I described the world as a dark place.  Then, as planned, all the lights in the auditorium turned off.  Since we had no windows in that building, it was dark.   I then lit one candle and described how one candlepower transforms the deepest darkness.

A friend of mine used his passion for golf as a visual aid.  He got out a club and practiced swinging it.  Someone in the audience suddenly stood up and said, “You’re doing it all wrong.”  He spent the next few moments giving a lesson on aligning all muscles and bones for an effective golf swing.  The preacher then went on to explain how the church is a body, and everything needs to be aligned.

Visuals are a way tactic for holding the attention of people as you preach the Word to them.

Stories Hold Attention As You Preach

As I looked back in this blog, I found that I have said this often.  Stories give power to your message, and they are a wonderful way for holding the attention of people as you preach the Word.  Again, Jesus used stories with great effectiveness.  Think about the stories he told, stories that made people listen closely, because they wanted to know what comes next.

  • A story about a son who disowns his father and goes away and wastes his life and his father’s money.  And the story has a twist–the father welcomes him home.
  • A man finds a treasure buried in the ground.
  • A Samaritan helps a man beaten by thieves after a priest and a teacher in the law pass him by.

It seems that many of Jesus’ main points were made with stories.

We live in a time of stories.  People flock to movies, read novels, and watch serial stories on television to scratch the itch that we have to know more.  Good stories engage people on an emotional plane, and hold peoples’ attention.

So, think about how you go about holding the attention of people as you preach and include stories and visual aids, and people will be tuning in.  We’ll look at this more in the next post.