Great preaching is more than about the transfer of knowledge, but it is about facilitating an experience with God by God’s word. To accomplish this task some attention needs to be spent on what is called “style.” Preachers should ensure that the nonverbal components of the message are consistent with the verbal. This includes recognizing that how you say something is just as important as what you say. Please do not mishear me. I am not saying that style is more important than content, I am saying that your style is a part of the content and can detract from the message or enhance the message.

One of the ways that you can facilitate a better sermonic experience is in timing. Timing is the skill that the preacher has in slowing down or speeding up the progress of the sermon to make sure that the majority of the people end up at the conclusion of the sermon with the spiritual experience by God through the preacher. One of the problems that I have noted that new preachers make is to “rush.” Instead of recognizing that the people are not on board with the preacher,sometimes they simply go to the next part of the sermon. They start the celebration when people are still laboring to understand the points. They move to the next point without laying the foundation from the previous one. They start shouting before people even understand what they are shouting about.

Overcoming this problem requires that the preacher remember that the sermonic event is not a monologue between the preacher and the people. Neither is it a monologue as God speaks through the preacher to the people. No it is a multifaceted conversation between the Spirit, preacher, and the people. Let each have their say before moving on to the next point. The best way to keep from rushing is to make sure that all three of these entities have their say before moving forward. The people will let you know if they understand. They people will let you know if there needs to be more convincing. The Spirit will let you know of added thoughts and ideas that you need to incorporate. And you as the preacher will know where you want to go. If all have their say, then you will have a better chance of having the sermon to progress as God intended.

13 thoughts on “Don’t Rush, Timing is Everything

  1. It is a 3-way conversation. Something that you don’t see a lot of is giving the individuals an opportunity to ask questions. Of course this method does not quite work for big churches. We do try to gauge whether folks are getting it by reading body language and asking for a yes and amen. At the house of prayer I attend, the Apostle gives us an opportunity to ask questions and express any revelation God may have given us throughout the message. I find this method, though not a traditional method, to truly be a 3-way engagement. Great post as usual by the way.

  2. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    The congregation speaks through call and response and body language…listen to them while you preach. Thank you for another radical model for preachers…but as you note…is not feasible in larger congregations…

  3. Lorraine Jones says:

    Dr. Cox, you could have spent another article or two on this subject for me. I am wondering if you would be willing to expand this topic by including the role that the liturgy/praise and worship segments have in providing the segue into the sermonic period? I raise this because I am probably guilty of either “following the flow” of what transpired before preaching or “fighting against the current” of what did not go well. I have heard colleagues who have pre-determined ahead of time what songs they want ministered before preaching to help set the appropriate atmosphere if the sermonic selection that was rendered did not quite do it. While the sermon for me is the pinnacle part of the service, the congregation should be eating before then to build up their appetite for the meat of the service. If I am tasked with serving the water, bread sticks, salad, and then the entree, I may be too tired or frustrated to stay on task to deliver what the Lord asked me to. Teamwork is key to ensuring that the pieces fall into place at the right time.

    Blessings to you. You have blessed me tremendoulsy in just the first few weeks of this first month in 2011. May the Lord richly sow back into you multi-facedted blessings and harvests.


  4. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Interesting thought. I think there is nothing wrong with “following the flow” as long as the flow is where you want to go in your sermon. I will discuss this in the future…

  5. D. Keith Bonner says:

    This was a helpful article. I opened this article before I began to prepare for Sunday and its content will help me in my labor today for Sunday. God Bless the message and the messenger!

  6. Thank you for helping me as I review and revise my sermon for Sunday
    I know that you sometime respond quickly so my question is should you include something about all of the Lectionary citations for the Sunday in a sermon when you are a guest?

  7. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    It is pretty difficult to fit all the lectionary scriptures into one sermon even when you are not a guest. Does the congregation expect you to hit all the texts? If not, I would just preach the sermon that God has given to me irrespective of text. If the congregation uses the lectionary, then choose one of the four lectionary passages to run with.

  8. rev.ricky williams says:

    i enjoy reading about preaching and all of the styles and preaperation iwould just like to preach more here at home i am a gospel dj on ktsu 90.9 fm gospel sunday 6am to10am iam i just not agood enough or are these preachers here in houston just not the shepards they claim to be. yours in christ jesus rev. ricky wiliiams the radio pastor

  9. Roger B. Abuloc says:

    Very enlightening article. To my mind, it is just like cooking a favorite dish. You prepare the main ingredients, mix and cook according to taste. Then make a nice presentation of the food for your guests to make it inviting to eat. Same is true to sermon preparation. Your main ingredient is in the Scripture. Other minor ingredients are added to make it more understandable. Then the delivery of the sermon should be at your best that includes style and timing.You know and feel if your congregation likes your piece on that day.

  10. Ptr. Rizal Asuncion says:

    Thank you Rev. Cox for your article. It reminds me to be conscious in observing timing in preaching. Yes, the preacher must be connected always with the congregation with their non verbal expressions as shown in their facial and/or bodily langauages, and adjust the timing correspondingly especially for the meaty contents of the message. Be sensitive as well to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

  11. Sylvester Warsaw, Jr. says:

    My, friend and fellow laborer in the Gospel, Elder Cox,

    I thank God for your willingness to help preachers. As, I, read this article the Holy Spirit caused me to reflect and thank God for the mentors God placed in my life, especially, when I was a young preacher. I truly believe that not only do young preachers need to be mentored, but, given the opportunity to not only preach but have responsibilities like teaching Sunday School, mid-week Bible Study and providing leadership in some capacity. Seminary doesn’t prepare us to Pastor people do through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Being a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more then preaching. It’s a call to a life of discipline and study. Study entails more then reading Scripture, but, listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and people taking their concerns to God in prayer. The Rev. Dr. Gardner Taylor told a group of us while I was in seminary that the people will tell you what to preach because if they trust you they’ll tell you their hearts desires and it’s our responsibility to take it to God in prayer and He’ll give us what to preach.

  12. Thank you very much for the advice about preaching the Lectionary texts. God did give me direction and I was blessed to bring forth the Word. One very encouraging word I received was that I helped someone to “see” the text better. Your site is a help. I recommend it to as many ministers as I canO

  13. Pastor Frederick D. Harris says:

    I find this article very interesting, in that yesterday I was speaking with a more mature pastor about; pasturing, preaching and ministering. He spoke of the three “P’s” though I have heard of the phrase, it’s been awhile:

    1. Pitiful…
    2. Popular…
    3. Powerful…
    As it pertains to your article, I’m mindful of how when I was first given opportunities to preach, and in my eagerness how I traveled through the various stages mention above all in God’s grace. The Holy Spirit has taught me that it was never about anything that I can bring to the pulpit; but that it’s all about letting God use me as His vessel / instrument. With much prayer study and preparation, He will allow His vessels to operate in the “Powerful” stage. It’s all about “Timing”, God’s “Timing.”

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