In my sermon consulting work, one of the deficiencies that I often find in sermons is that they often have a sermon that is more than one sermon. Preaching more than one sermon causes listener fatigue as they mentally attempt to make one sermon out of what is more than one sermon. Often they simply give up and wait until the “whoop” or the celebration.
Don’t Drain The Members
I remember speaking with a member of a church that had a pastor who regularly preached more than one sermon. The member told me that he couldn’t put his finger on it, but the pastor’s sermons were hard to listen to. The preacher was animated, attempted great congregational participation, and preached very hard, but there was something missing. The thing that was missing is one main point to his sermons. The people just got tired.
Avoid More Than One Sermon
Now more than one sermon can creep into our preaching very subtly. This can happen in a number of ways.
- You can preach more than one sermon by allowing irrelevant side points. This is a very common way to preach more than one sermon. You have read a lot of material to get ready for this sermon. There is a temptation to make use of that very juicy point or that very good story or that very important piece of exegesis. However, if it doesn’t fit the current sermon, then you could easily introduce a “whole nuther sermon” that will distract the hearers from the original sermon and cause them to attempt to attempt to make this irrelevant point relevant to your main sermon.
This is an easy fix, don’t introduce anything in your sermon unless it contributes to the sermon’s point.
- You can preach more than one sermon by emphasizing minor points greater than larger points. This is another common deficiency related to the previous one. Here we found that great point, but we preach that sub-point so heavily that it becomes stronger than the main point. Sub-points must support the main point. But we can easily fall into the trap of emphasizing the sub point greater than the larger point. Then we end up in trouble.
The key here is to keep in mind what your main point is so that you can use your sub-points to emphasize them.
- The points are not related to each other. This is a very common deficiency especially for those who preach a “three points and a poem”-like message. Here the preacher finds three unrelated points and then preaches them and sits down. If the three points are not related to each other in any way, you have preached three sermons. Always remember it is easier for your people to remember and live out one main point rather than three main points. So you have one main point and your three points support that main point.
An easy way to not fall into this trap is to have a “guiding question” that your sermon answers. Here your points answer that question. More information on this can be found in my kindle book “Three Points and a Poem.”
- You can preach more than one sermon by not “taming” your illustrations. Now this is a very common problem. We will tell a story that may be relevant to our sermon, however the way we tell the story can introduce many irrelevant details or points that may distract from the message.
When you tell a story in your sermon, make sure to emphasize the details in the sermon that are relevant to your topic. Emphasize the details in the story that support your sermon’s point.
Everything Supports Your Main Point
In the final analysis, we preach one sermon by having one major point. We then make sure that everything that we add to the message supports that main point. Then your people may agree or disagree, but at least they know what you attempted to communicate in the message.