Work at mastering your delivery. You preach to friends, neighbors, and the family of God on a weekly basis. It can be tempting to slug through the sermon and not give it your best. God does not require perfection from us, but he does require excellence (2 Pet. 1:5 NASB). We might be tempted to think how we relay the truth to others is not too important, but it is. The gospel is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16) and therefore those of us who preach the gospel message should proclaim it powerfully (1 Cor. 2:4-5).
It’s About Conviction More Than Style
Mastering the delivery of our sermons is not about the style with which we choose to deliver our sermons (i.e. with or without notes; manuscript or outline). Mastering the delivery is not about style as much as it is about conviction. There is no Toastmasters class that will give you the conviction necessary to stand up and proclaim the Word of God week after week.
After spending time with God’s Word throughout the week in preparation, we should deliver it as those who believe that God’s Word is true and has the potential to be life-changing (1 Thess. 2:13). There is nothing reverent about being timid in the areas in which God wants us to be bold (1 Tim. 4:11).
As you prepare to preach, strive to deliver the text just as God has given it (Prov. 30:5-6). This can be done without being arrogant or conceited. We can proclaim the gospel without being rude or unkind. We can embody the boldness that God demands without portraying ourselves as people who “have it all together.”
Moreover, we must be careful not to allow our personal shortcomings to keep us from plainly declaring the message of Scripture. It seems that this has always been a struggle for those who preach. Paul requested prayers on his behalf that he would be able to speak the message boldly as he should (Eph. 6:18-20).
Timothy was encouraged to “fan into flame” the gift he was given and to remember that, instead of fear, God has given us the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:6-7). Humility says, “I do not know everything, but what I do know I will proclaim boldly and unapologetically” (cf. Acts 4:13).
Preaching the Word
We cannot forget that we are preaching the perfect Christ and not ourselves (2 Cor. 4:5). The prophets were often told to say what God told them to say (Jer. 1:17; Ezek. 2:7; Jonah 3:2). As long as they were speaking the message of God they had no reason to shrink back in fear or reticence. Likewise, Paul told Timothy to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). This meant that Timothy was to give every effort to ensure that what he was teaching was accurate, then he had to faithfully declare that message to those who listened (2 Tim. 2:15).
In a world where far too many people claim to be experts about everything, we may be afraid to speak with certainty, but do not surrender your conviction. When Paul preached of righteousness, temperance, and judgment, Felix trembled (Acts 24:25). What Paul said was important, but Paul also had to communicate his message with urgency and confidence if Felix was going to believe him and be moved by it.
The Tone of the Text
Mastering the delivery of the sermon means taking on the tone of the text. When preaching from poetic sections of the Bible (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes), we should allow the genre of the text to determine how we deliver it. The parables of judgment recorded in the gospels should be delivered with a tone of challenge. Philemon should be preached with an urgent pleading for reconciliation. All of the Bible is true, but not all of the Bible is communicating truth in the same way. Preachers do not have to become actors, but neither should we forfeit personality in the proclamation of the truth.
Preacher, when you stand up to preach this week, do it as if you have something important to say. More than that, do it as if you have something eternal to say! Mastering the delivery of your sermon is less about eloquence and more about exercising the authority given to you as a spokesman of God’s Word (Titus 2:15). Delivering the sermon faithfully means that we believe the message is from God, we have been convicted ourselves, and we want to share it with others.
Whether it is the promises of God to be believed, the warnings of God to be heeded, or the holiness of God to be beheld, we need to announce it as best we can. Scripture is from God and equips us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and we help equip others when we deliver it properly. Every preacher is working on this, so let’s encourage each other.
Ponder these verses as you prepare to preach this Sunday:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15 ESV).
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2).
Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11a).