Myth 4. You should judge your message based on how well you did: So I’m a recovering performance addict. In my early years of preaching, I was obsessed with ‘how well I did.’… The early questions were far too much about me and not nearly enough about the content or the audience. As someone once told me, stop focusing on how well you’re doing as a preacher and start focusing on your audience. So true.
Preaching is one of the most demanding tasks required of communicators, and there are myths about sermons that need to be exposed.
You’re not just giving a ‘talk,’ you’re communicating the Word of God—faithfully (you trust). And you do this in front of groups of people who have more communication options and sources than at any point in human history.
Not an easy task.
In addition, when it comes to preaching, everyone has an opinion.
As a result, preachers get more than their share of feedback. Sometimes it’s helpful. Sometimes not so much.
So to wrap up my five part communication series, I thought I’d finish by busting some sermon myths.
The rest of the blog series covers topics like creating sermon series that connect with unchurched people and learning how to speak without using notes:
Part 5: 6 Sermon Myths We Need to Bust (This post)
I’ve learned a lot about communicating through preaching for over two decades, but I’ve also been tremendously helped the last few years by Preaching Rocket (affiliate link).
I’ve been through their entire coaching programming and it’s been fantastic for me both as a preacher and a conference speaker.
If you want to explore it for yourself, you can try Preaching Rocket for free for 7 days.
So what sermon myths should we bust? Here are 6.
- Sermons need to be short because people have tiny attention spans
Now that human beings apparently have a shorter attention span than goldfish (8 seconds), there’s pressure on preachers to be shorter.
Long sermons are almost always seen as a thing of the past.
I think we’ve framed the issue incorrectly.
We think that shorter equals more engaging.
It doesn’t. You can be short and boring. Or you can be longer and highly engaging.
Is there a perfect length for sermons?
15 minutes of boring is 15 minutes too long. 40 minutes of fascinating is fascinating.
The average feature film hasn’t gotten any shorter in length. In fact, they’ve actually grown longer. The latest Star Wars instalment and the Martian both did just fine at over 2 hours each.
The issue isn’t length. It’s engagement.
Your sermons don’t necessarily have to be shorter. They do need to be engaging.
- Clear preaching is watered-down preaching
Many preachers have worked hard at becoming clearer in their communication.
Personally, I think that’s awesome.
But people mistake ‘clear’ for ‘watered-down’.
Does watered-down preaching exist? Sure it does. But clear preaching is not inherently watered-down preaching. It’s just clear.
But being clear when you preach doesn’t mean you’re gospel-light. Clear preaching is not inherently watered-down preaching. It’s just clear.
More than any of us would care to admit, we’ve sat through a 45 minute message and then, an hour later, found ourselves completely unable to recall a single point that was made. What we experienced was a rambling message filled with obscure references and void of application to real life.
But because we don’t know what to call that, we too often call that style of preaching ‘deep.’ It’s not deep. It’s confusing.
As any preacher will tell you, it takes far more skill and hard to work to be clear than it does to be confusing.
Don’t criticize a preacher because he or she is clear.
In a culture in that is increasingly becoming post-Christian, clarity is our friend, not our enemy.
The last thing I want is for someone to walk away from the Gospel because they didn’t ever hear it. So be clear.