How to Love Your People For Better Preaching

How to Love Your People For Better Preaching

In the last post we saw that loving your people makes preaching better.  In this post we consider how to love your people for better preaching in your ministry.

Let Them Know You Love Them

I’ve been thinking about the preachers I had while growing up.  They taught me in catechism class, and they preached to me on Sunday.  Two out of three of them were my pastor for more than 10 years each, yet I never felt like they really cared about me.  In fact, the one was very stern, the other would talk at us, but not with us.

However, the stern one could break down the hard facade that he presented most of the time.  During his time as our pastor a young woman, daughter of one of our families, was killed in a plane crash.  The grieving father told me later that this stern pastor came to give the news and wept with him.  That act of feeling compassion made the family feel loved by their pastor.  They listened to his sermons differently after that, of that you can be sure. That pastor had learned the lesson of how to love your people for better preaching and it came through the actions.

Actions of Love

How to love your people for better preaching begins with some of these simple steps:

  • By touching (appropriately, of course).  A warm hand on the shoulder, or a hug, a meaningful handshake all communicate something about your care for the people.
  • Compassion.  As in the story above, when you genuinely show your concern, it creates a bond with people that improves how they view your preaching.   This may be a challenge for you, but you can pray that God will open your heart.  This direction in Colossians 3:20 challenges me: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Clothing yourself means you can put this on.  You will likely need God’s help for it, but you can do this.
  • Let them know that you are in this together.  In your preaching, tell them that you understand some of their pain.  In his book, Preaching with Spiritual Passion, Ed Rowell tells about sharing in a sermon on loneliness about his own pain in the months and years after a broken engagement with a girl he had dated for several years.  He said, “Afterward, I was overwhelmed with the people who wanted to talk with me about lost loves–tales of divorces, infidelities, engagements, and near engagements.”  (p. 151). When they know that you understand, they will listen better, and in their eyes, your preaching will be better.
  • Let them hear about victories, too.  You can tell the stories, too, about times you faced difficulties and temptations and overcame them, with God’s help.  This can give people hope.

Loving Your People for Better Preaching–Carefully

You need to approach the actions listed above with some care.   For instance:

  • As noted above, touching can be misinterpreted today.  Only touch people in a limited way and in public.  In my country there is a hyper-sensitivity about this issue since we have become aware of how women have been subjected to unwanted advances in the past.  Don’t become another story of inappropriateness.
  • When you let them know you are in this together, they don’t need to know all the gory details of your life.  Share with them what makes the point that you want to make, but not every part of your story is necessarily helpful.
  • When you share about the victories in your life, there is the possibility that you can set yourself up as the Michael Jordan of living the Christian life.  In other words, you can do things that they cannot because of your great spirituality.  So, approach these stories with humility and with a focus on Christ.

These are examples of how to love your people for better preaching in your church.  Use them well, and people will listen to your sermons in much more meaningful ways.