Why is preaching difficult?

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2 NASB).

Preaching requires great patience. Have you ever been preaching and looked out in the congregation and seen someone sleeping? Or perhaps you notice several heads are looking downward because they are busy posting on Facebook or texting their friends. You may be asking yourself, “Am I boring?” or “Why haven’t I connected with them?” Preaching is a difficult task. One must not only immerse oneself in the text, but the preacher must also know the audience. As we prepare sermons, we seek to relationally connect with our hearers through illustrations, stories, and personal experiences. We want to help the congregation to become participants in the text, not just observers.

Preachers have the daunting task capturing the attention of the audience––and keeping it––so that the message of the text may be heard and understood. Preaching is defiantly an art, an art of composing pictures and ideas with words that invoke the participation and imagination of those who hear them. A sermon is like a musical score that draws its listeners into the drama and beauty of the notes as they are played. Also like a musical score, it is not just the producing of notes or words on paper, but it is the auditory hearing of the sermon that brings it to life. When one listens to the opening notes of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or Rachmonioff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, they are immediately pulled into its melody. Have those first few words been constructed and spoken in such a way as to engage listeners and cause them to desire to hear more? The composer struggles to create a combination of sound and melody that flows throughout the piece; sometimes softly, causing us to strain in order to hear each and every melodious tone, and sometimes powerfully, passionately striking the notes so that their sound continues to reverberate and linger for long moments after they have been played. The preacher, likewise, arranges words and sentences to create a message that brings its listeners along, movement by movement; each with a different rhythm, yet intrinsically connected to produce a unified piece of work. Finally, the musical score must come to an end. What will be the final, poignant sounds that you leave with the audience? Has the conclusion brought listeners to a point of reflection on God’s presence in their lives and in their current circumstances? The art of composing a sermon and delivering it definitely requires patience, humility, and dedication. Patience allows us to compose a message, directed by God, that connects with listeners.

 

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