Before we dive in, we should mention that we’re assuming you’re already fervently praying over your messages and listening to the Holy Spirit for every sermon you write. Because this is such a priority, you won’t find it on this list. Instead, we encourage you to continue to go to God for clarity and wisdom to help you find the sermon in the text. Pray over these three targets, that He will help you to hit them. However, throughout the rest of this podcast, we’re assuming you’re already praying over every single sermon, because you won’t see effective change without His work.
Focus on reaching people’s minds first with logic, first. How we think is important. After all, Jesus spent 3 ½ years trying to change the way that His disciples thought about everything. He appealed to their minds to think about things differently. And in Romans 12, Paul says that our response to all that God is and has done for us should be to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
So before anything else, we need to change the way that we think. Think about people’s objections and doubts, about whatever you’re preaching over- people have doubts about more than their salvation! Try to figure out what they are.
To better speak to people’s doubts and objections, do some research. What are the skeptics saying? Present differing views from your own. What does the world say? What does the culture say? What arguments do they bring, and what does the Bible say about this topic? Give a logical reason and defense for the Biblical point of view.
The Bible itself follows this approach: the Gospel of Matthew is Matthew appealing to the logic of the Jewish people, proving that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Likewise, the Gospel of John is an appeal to the logical argument that Jesus is the logos. So we need to first appeal to the mind. Anticipate their objections, doubts, and skepticism so that you can appeal to them to change their minds.
Luke 24:32- “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?’”
Jesus appealed to people’s emotions. He spoke to their hearts. There’s danger in making everything an emotional experience, but when we preach we do need to speak to the emotions. What are people’s motives, passions, desires? What do they want? What do they need? When we change their mind about things, it’s going to change their feelings, too- and it should!
Again, we have to be careful not to make worship into a purely emotional experience, but we can’t ignore emotions either. People are emotional beings. We care about things. That is part of what it means to be made in the image of God- we have a God that feels, Who has compassion and empathy. So after you’ve done your research and reached people’s minds, ask the quesiton: how can I appeal to people’s emotions? Because when they change their mind, which is our first target, how they feel will change because their heart will begin to change.
Finally, preach to how your listeners can become the hands and feet of what you just preached. As John 13:17 says, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Knowledge without action is worthless, so make sure you’re calling people to take action at the end of every single sermon.
That call to action needs to be crystal clear. Answer the question, “In light of this, what can I do?” When people’s minds and hearts are truly being changed, it should naturally lead to the question, “So what do I do about this?” When you’ve set it up well, it’s simple to connect it to the rest of the sermon: “Now that your mind has been changed, it causes you to feel differently about this. And because you feel differently about this, here’s what you can do about it.” Speak to the individual, then speak to your church as a whole and say, “Here’s what we’re going to do, as the body of Christ, in light of this.”
Sermon-writing is like a muscle. If you want to become a better sermon writer and a more effective communicator, write a sermon every single week, even if you aren’t preaching that week. Consistency is the key to improvement. One simple way to do this is to open Sermonary every single day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, and work on a sermon. It’ll provide you with a library of sermons to use in the future, but it will also help you become a better writer.
What did you think of these targets? Are you using them already? We’d love to hear from you- leave a comment on Youtube with your thoughts!