HOW MUCH SHOULD THE AUDIENCE BE INFORMED ABOUT YOUR SERMON MATERIAL
What expectation does the membership have about the content of the preacher’s sermon? What is their belief about how the preacher prepares his sermons? What has the preacher said about his sermon’s preparation?
There are a lot of factors in this matter of preaching. I can only speak from my experience. When I was pastor of my first church and even my second church, the congregation’s idea of what preaching should be like was formed by the previous preachers they had. Their expectation of style, content, methods, etc. of preaching was established by their own thinking as well.
People have a concept of what they believe is preaching and what is teaching. They have their idea of how a sermon should be preached. They form their ideas of how a sermon should sound and what a sermon should say. Some think that a sermon should be humorous, intelligent, interesting, and contemporary. Some think a sermon should be loud and simple. Some think the preacher should just talk to them and not at them. There is not a consensus but a multiplicity of expectations from the preacher and his sermon and his style.
One church elder said "Our congregation is used to one manner and sound and method of preaching, and we are looking for an associate of like manner."
What I have learned about people in our churches in general, (from my experience only) they really don’t understand the ministry of preaching the Word of God. Now you would expect new converts not to know, but mature believers should at least have an idea about presenting the Word of God on Sunday Morning. Generally the people had to learn to listen with a new mind set when hearing me preach, because they were not used to hearing my style of teaching.
FOOTNOTE: There are many churches who have been well disciplined in the art of preaching.
I thought I knew the art of preaching. After all, I had heard Jack Hyles preach and Earl K. Oldham preach. Actually, I have heard hundreds of preachers and I knew their mannerisms. I developed a style of preaching as a result of who I studied. That is not always a good idea. I know.
As I learned this craft of preaching/teaching, I would teach the membership what I was trying to do. "Why are you preaching the way you do, Pastor Charles?" Or at least they were thinking that question. Everyone has their idea about preaching and how a preacher prepares his messages. So I have always tried to tell the people how I go about preparing my messages.
Many preachers want the people to think that everything they say is original and all comes from the Holy Spirit at the moment they open their mouth to preach. (Well, some independent Baptists do)
I have spent a lot of time teaching those who hear me preach I am up-front with how I go about studying the Word of God for a message that I preach. Thus I was able to help new converts develop an open mind set toward my style of preaching. I shared with them the methods I use to develop a message. I have always tried to educate people how they can know the Word of God and how they can test what I am saying to be the truth.
How should a sermon sound biblically? Good question? How long should a sermon be? How much content and application should be in a message? How much originality should go in to a message? How much study should you do in researching the text? Do you use Greek or Hebrew words in your message? Should you give credit to every thought and quote you use in your sermon when you are preaching?
These are very important points that I would share with the people in our churches.
I heard John MacArthur say, "The most important thing that I can do for my people is to open the Word of God and proclaim His word with clarity."
Of course at first the people didn’t think preaching was the priority of the preacher/pastor of their church. They had their ideas about that as well. They had to be taught biblically what God had called the preacher/teacher to do in the church. That was usually a shock to the members.
What I have discovered too, every church has their own expectation of what a preacher should preach and how he should preach his sermon. When I have been asked to preach in view of a call to that church to pastor, or to send a tape of one of my sermons, they have an idea of what they desire in a preacher preaching. Most of the time my idea and what they expect are worlds apart.