Preaching every week for 20 years is hard. Oh, some preacher will tell you, “It’s not that difficult,” but for the rest of us mere humans. It is hard. Maybe I try too hard. Maybe I put too much pressure on myself. But I feel like I’m supposed to come up with something new and interesting every week. Most of the experts out there agree. Andy Stanley says not to preach one theme more than a month. Andy Stanley would be disappointed in me.
I would pay someone to coach my preaching every week. Honestly it wouldn’t need to be every week. It could probably be once a month. How would a Coach Approach to preaching look?
This may be heresy, but here it goes. I’d start with the preacher rather than with the sermon. Coaching encourages the client to lean into his or her strengths. I can’t think of one preaching book that starts with the preacher and natural strengths. Billy Graham certainly has Woo. In fact, Billy Graham’s top five strengths are all Woo. Woo is not in my top five. I’ve wondered where it might be but not so much that I’m ready to pay $79 to find out. Gallup charges you $10 to find out your top five strengths, but then charges $79 to find out what you’re not good at.
If you look at my top 4 strengths, they are all strategic. I am a thinker. I can influence, and I can think, but my natural tendency is to make a well founded argument. When I am at my best in preaching, I don’t just make the argument, I invite people into my thinking. This is how I influence people. I help them think. I encourage them to think and come to their own well founded conclusion. I always short change the congregation when I land on a conclusion for them. This may not be true for you.
When I am best in my preaching, I am funny, usually sarcastic. The funny comes best off the cuff, and so I need to leave room in my preaching for the funny to come out. I also often need to explain why I’m being sarcastic. It doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes people think I’m just being rude. I don’t need to stop being sarcastic. I need to craft my sarcastic remarks to have better effect. It is my strength.
That’s who I am. That’s what I got. That’s what works best for me. So when someone says to me I need to “Drop the hammer,” I can often see their point, but that is not my strength. My worst sermons are when I lean into my weaknesses.
If you preach, what is YOUR strength? What strength were you working out of when you preached your most memorable sermon? You might want to ask people. You are probably afraid to ask people what your most memorable sermon has been because you are afraid they won’t remember even one. Not even last week. Truthfully I have trouble remembering what I preached last week. But I’m safe. One of my strengths is Future Thinking. I don’t live in the past. Whew.
Are you an influencer? A relater? Is communication your strength or do you actually use something else in your preaching to make your point? I’ve seen poor communicators preach very well.
A good coach would encourage you to know your strengths and lean into them. I’m not Billy Graham or Martin Luther King or Andy Stanley. I could wish I was, but that would be disrespectful to God who made me Brian Miller.
Find a coach and have them coach your preaching for a few weeks. They aren’t so hard to find. We’ve trained almost 100 in our denomination alone.