Have you ever had trouble paying attention during a sermon?
A group of Seventh-day Adventist pastors at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in Cavite, Philippines, realized recently that a common complaint that they heard is “my pastor is boring.”
So the leadership of the campus church decided to partner with the AIIAS theological seminary and the Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s Ministerial Department to develop an annual preaching lectureship.
The goal is to feature some of the best preaching in the denomination while at the same time creating an opportunity for some practical workshops to learn how to share God’s Word in a more effective way.
John Brunt, recently retired senior pastor of the Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church in Grand Terrace, California, was invited to speak for the inaugural lectureship. He is widely viewed as a master of narrative preaching.
Recent research indicates that the most successful ministers in Asia use the narrative style of preaching or, in essence, pastors who know how to illustrate their sermons with relevant and interesting stories.
“The whole sermon can become a story,” Brunt told attendees.
What’s more, he said, “really good preachers learn to see the world as a sermon.”
Planning ahead is key to preparing a good sermon, he said, noting that preaching God’s Word is the most sacred responsibility whether a pastor leads a large church or several dozen small churches.
“I like to give my people a steady diet of Scripture,” Brunt said.
Even the outline of the sermon should “flow out of the text,” he said.
By planning ahead, the pastor can have more time to reflect, seek stories from their own lives, read, and observe the surrounding world in preparing the sermon message, he said.
All preaching should be characterized by four words: gospel, biblical, alive, and clear, he said.
Brunt challenged attendees to simplify their sermons down to a simple sentence. If you can’t do that, then go back and work on the sermon some more, he said.