Your Delivery is Critical.   Some preachers take off, fly up to 35,000 feet, speak for forty minutes and then land, maintaining the same delivery.  Same intensity in their voice. Same tone of voice, same, volume.  Same, same (shame) puts people to sleep.  

Instead, sometimes whisper, sometimes shout.  Sometimes speak fast, other times spread     out    your   words   by    separating   every    word     and    enunciating    it    very   distinctly,      lingering   over     each    word     for   emphasis.  

Sometimes speak in a high tone of voice;  sometimes in a middle voice and sometimes in a low, slow voice.    Don’t be afraid of 30 seconds of silence.  Standing in the pulpit, that will seem like a long time.  Resist the temptation is to do something, or say something.  Discipline yourself (look at your watch) and actually stand there looking at your people for 30 whole seconds.

Pause.  Space between thoughts or sentences invites the listener to think about what you’ve just said.  Such space is not dead air, it is giving people time to absorb. 

Say something of value.  If a pastor has 100 people in front of himself for 30 minutes, that is 50 person-hours.  If he preaches for 45 minutes, that is 75 person-hours.  You would not think of wasting 50 hours or 75 hours. An insightful 20 minutes is better than 20 minutes of good commentary followed by 15 minutes of palabber. Twenty and out. 

Much of the time you will be serious, of course. But telling a joke occasionally is a dandy way to re-capture the attention you may have lost during the serious commentary. Humor engages the listeners.  Variety will keep ‘em with you.    

Illustrations are Essential     An illustration is to a sermon what feathers are to an arrow;  what a window is to light getting into a room  (Spurgeon).  Finding good illustrations that actually illustrate your point is tough.  (1) Work at it.                   (2) has a subject / topic / text index which may help. (3) Ask some older preachers for illustrations for your text – you are not the first one to take your people through a given passage.  There is a lot available on the internet that can illuminate understanding.  

Illustrations help the listener understand what you are saying.  “The kingdom of Heaven is like ….”  They enable you to amplify what you mean, helping the listener to comprehend.  

As a child in the slowest reading group, I “read” the pictures, telling the teacher what the print said.  Illustrations help the listener “read” the text.   

Saying Things a Fourth Time    Be careful to not repeat yourself too often.  Review briefly, yes, but then plough new ground. At the end of the message to repeat and repeat will not endear you to your audience.  If they ain’t got it the first, second or third time, they won’t be open to it the fourth time.  Close the service.  

Tell Me the Dream, Then I will Know    Nebuchadnezzar believed the “wise men” held positions beyond what was legitimate (Daniel 2). Religious leaders are supposedly the conduit for communication with the supernatural.  Whoever controls the flow of supernatural information tends to be powerful in a given culture.  They supposedly know what people want and how to get the gods to give it to them.   

But Nebuchadnezzar was suspicious of these guys who had a cushy life with high pay and social standing.  If they understood what others did not, surely they could tell him his dream.  

Doing that would give the king confidence that they would know the correct interpretation.  But three times in Daniel 2:4-11 they argue with the king, saying, “No one can know what you dreamed. Tell us your dream and we will give you the interpretation.”  Bucky got firm – “Tell me the dream or you are fakes and charlatans and you are going to die” (vs. 12).   

What’s the point?   Preachers need to describe before they prescribe. Describe what a given person is experiencing before applying a Bible solution.  For example, what is an insecure person experiencing when forced to meet new people?  The self-talk of an insecure person goes something like this – “I do not want to meet new people.  I am not dressed for it.  What will I say? Will I be expected to say anything beyond, ‘Hello’ or ‘Good morning?’  Will this person like me?  They are probably smarter than I am, better looking;  oh look at my shirt – it is wrinkly.  Do my shoes look okay?  What will I say when he asks me, ‘How are you?’”   And on and on.  

Why is it important for the preacher to describe what a person is thinking and feeling?   Because the hurting, vulnerable person wants to know that the pastor understands him . . . knows what he is going through and that the pastor connects with his need.  Take at least two full minutes of pulpit time to describe such a hurting person – how they think, what they are feeling, how that hurting person interprets their circumstances.  If the speaker can tell them their dream (what they are experiencing),  if the speaker can get inside their head and look out through their eyes to see their emotional landscape,  then the hurting soul will have confidence that the speaker will prescribing the correct spiritual medication