“Then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Luke 10:25)
Holly, a 7-year-old in a church I pastored, once turned to her mother in the middle of my sermon and said, “Mother, why does Doctor Joe think we need this information?”
Every preacher should have such a child listening to every sermon and giving such feedback.
What boring preaching does–universally, no exceptions–is answer questions no one is asking.
It may do more things than this–dead oratory violates a thousand sound principles–but put it down in huge letters, pastor: the sermon which is sedating your congregation is seen as completely irrelevant to them.
Whether it is or not is another matter.
My job as the pastor may mean making my audience see that this subject is one they should be dealing with and asking questions about.
On a typical airline flight, passengers ignore the instructions of the attendant as she talks about the use of the seat cushion as flotation device or how to inflate the life vests. However, if, at 30,000 feet the pilot announces the loss of an engine and the attendant begins to give instructions, she will have the clear and undivided attention of her audience.
One reason I suggest previewing the sermon with one’s spouse and children is that invariably one among them can be counted on to ask, “What is your point?” “What is this about?” Or, as Holly put it, “Why do we need to know this?”
In Scripture, we are left with the impression that Jesus’ best preaching was done on the spur of the moment as a result of questions.